Food for Thought

By Tamar Appel, Associate Prinicipal of Ma'ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls on Jan 28, 2019
I love having SINAI students and faculty as part of our Ma’ayanot family.  It is a testament to the culture of SINAI, Ma’ayanot, and the intertwining of the two that so many of us view the SINAI students and teachers as an organic part of our school.  SINAI students regularly participate in our morning tefillot, eat lunch with us, take part in our chagigot and Shabbatonim, and chat with us.  Sometimes they also cry, seem anxious, or laugh joyfully in the hallways - indistinguishably from other Ma’ayanot students. Last Friday, though, I had a lens into just how unique the...
By Chaim Sussman, former SINAI Schools teacher on Jan 8, 2019
A few days ago my wife and I celebrated the bris of our son.  We named him Shmuel Tzvi in memory of someone who had a big impact on my life. Tzvi was the middle name of Naftali Tzvi Hakohen, Nathaniel Cohen z”l. Nathaniel was the first student I worked with after I graduated college, in my first job at SINAI Schools….and at the risk of sounding corny and cliche, I can guarantee you that I learned much more from him than he ever learned from me. Nathaniel was a big Mets fan, and as seems to often be the case in my life, that leads to an instant connection! I distinctly remember a...
By Chana Shestack on Mar 16, 2018
On February 13, RKYHS students heard from Yaakov Guttman, a former IDF soldier now serving as a firefighter in Tel Aviv, when he presented a “TED”-style talk as part of RKYHS’ special SEED speakers program. As a child with significant learning disabilities, Yaakov shut down academically when his father passed away unexpectedly, prompting his mother to send him to SINAI. His teachers at SINAI poured their time and energy into him, and Yaakov rose to overcome personal adversity and his learning disabilities to graduate SINAI with the JKHA class of 1999. Born and raised in Bergenfield,...
By Sam Fishman on Dec 19, 2017
When I was a younger man, and the father of a small child with special needs, I found that there were certain prayers that I said with more “kavanah” – deeper intention and feeling.    One of those prayers was “Birkat Hachodesh,” the prayer said on the Sabbath before the beginning of each new month, in which we ask God that the upcoming month should bring blessings -- and all good things.     I remember standing in the synagogue with my young son beside me.  My SINAI child.  I would put my arm around his shoulder, draping my tallit – my prayer shawl...
By a long-time parent on Jun 14, 2017
What a bittersweet time! It feels like we just started at SINAI, and now M is graduating. Where did the time go? It is truly exciting to see M grow from a 9th grader, afraid to go to a baseball game, to a more confident and engaging young man who is self assured and cannot speak enough good about his high school experience. His growth in this period of time is in no small part to each of you. Thank you seems too insignificant to really express our gratitude. Through our time at SINAI, it is obvious to me over an over how special and caring the staff has been for and to each student. It is...
By Erika Svolos, Music Therapist on May 12, 2017
Music therapy is a highly effective evidenced-based tool in the treatment of children and adolescents with special needs.  SINAI’s own board certified music therapist, Erika Svolos, shares five ways she sees Music Therapy support and help our SINAI students each day. Music Therapy enhances and supports students’ ability to effectively communicate with others.  Music has been a form of communication from the beginning of time.  In music therapy, we use experiences like music making, music creation, and singing to provide our students with new ways to express their thoughts...
By Debby Mann Adler on Apr 25, 2017
Although by nature I am a private person, I share highlights of Jacob's life on social media for various reasons. I want people to realize how easy certain obstacles are for him to overcome, or how difficult seemingly simple tasks can be for him to accomplish. I want him to be able to look back at how fearless and amazing he is, and most importantly, I want people to see how easy it is for them to deeply impact others. We all know Facebook posts are not reflective of reality. While it may look like Jacob’s life is one big party, the truth is that the majority of his time he is bored and...
By Frada Stone, LCSW, Assistant Director, SINAI Maor High School at RKYHS on Mar 15, 2017
At SINAI’s Maor High School at the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, an important part of our students’ growth is in the social/emotional domain. While our Maor students focus most of their day on academics covering a college preparatory high school curriculum, they benefit significantly from our social skills program that addresses their challenges in navigating social interactions appropriately and effectively. Both Mrs. Pesha New and I use our training as social workers to implement Maor’s social skills curriculum in group and individual settings. In addition, we work with our staff as a...
By Ilana Chill on Mar 7, 2017
I have a silver linings kind of life. We, as a family, grapple with some enormous challenges, sometimes on a daily basis. We constantly have to make allowances and adjustments and modifications that other families don't ever have to consider. But, because of all that, I think we're probably closer than most families. I have a son who struggles in so many ways, but who approaches life with joy and wit and humor, and is capable of so much more than he lets on. I have three other children who often get a combined twenty five percent of my attention--but who are rarely resentful of that,...
By Abigail Hepner Gross, Director of Communications on Feb 3, 2017
I was honored to be invited to the Bat Mitzvah of one of our students a few weeks ago, a girl who has the most beautiful face and angelic smile. She has tremendous difficulty making eye contact—I wonder how the photos will come out, because she usually can’t even look at a camera to take a picture. And she has a lot of difficulty putting her words together. She speaks very softly—at just over a whisper, and often struggles to find the words she is looking for. There were at least two tables of her teachers at the Bat Mitzvah. The family had invited not only friends, but all of...

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