River Edge—SINAI Schools and Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey (RYNJ) have entered into a long-term lease-renewal agreement, cementing the relationship between them, and ensuring that elementary school students with significant or complex special needs will continue to receive a top-quality education in a Bergen County Yeshiva.
SINAI was founded more than 30 years ago at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy (JKHA) where, according to Sam Fishman, SINAI’s Managing Director, “SINAI still thrives and has its largest number of students, thanks to the extraordinary vision, commitment and sensitivity of JKHA’s educational and lay leadership. However, for young children with special needs, the daily commute from Bergen County to Livingston—where JKHA is located—can be very difficult. Yet for about the first 25 years of SINAI’s existence, local parents who wanted a SINAI education for their children had no choice but to have their children endure that commute.”
When SINAI entered into its initial lease with RYNJ in 2009, the arrangement was met with great enthusiasm, “albeit with some concerns that space limitations could make it impossible for RYNJ to renew the lease after its initial five-year term,” said Moshe Weinberger, President of SINAI. “However, to the delight of everyone—educators and administrators, parents and students of both schools alike—the RYNJ community embraced the SINAI students as their own. And even more importantly, the mutual benefits of the relationship, both to RYNJ and SINAI, became apparent immediately.”
“From both sides—RYNJ and SINAI—we quickly moved from any questions about ‘WHETHER’ the relationship will continue, to a mutual commitment to figure out ‘HOW’ to make the relationship continue,” said Rabbi Yehuda Rosenbaum, Chairman of RYNJ’s Board.
Azi Mandel, RYNJ’s President, agreed. “We believe that the RYNJ students gain as much as the SINAI students, or even more, from the relationship. So we are delighted we are able to enter into a long-term renewal of our lease with SINAI. Space permitting, it is our hope that RYNJ will provide a permanent home for SINAI’s children. It’s the right thing to do, for RYNJ, for SINAI, for our community, and for Klal Yisrael.”
Rabbi Daniel Price, RYNJ’s Head of School, describes the integration of the SINAI students at RYNJ: “RYNJ does not merely host SINAI classrooms; we share the fabric of school life with SINAI. At RYNJ, we do everything we can to make sure that the SINAI students and staff consider themselves part of our larger community, and we always welcome the opportunity for SINAI students to join into RYNJ classes or activities. And the relationship goes both ways. Our RYNJ students have learned to embrace differences by having SINAI students by their sides. I believe that we are growing a generation of children for whom it is natural and expected to talk to, play with, and learn together with those with disabilities. This lease agreement ensures that the next generation of children will continue to be imbued with values of acceptance and love for others.”
Rabbi Dr. Yisrael Rothwachs, Dean, SINAI Schools, echoes those sentiments: “We are thrilled that our students will continue to benefit from the degree of integration that is offered at RYNJ. The RYNJ school culture is so seamlessly inclusive that many don’t even notice who is who. Far beyond simply sharing space and attending some RYNJ classes, SINAI students are listed in the school directory, invited to the class birthday parties and Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations; they participate in all school events, have lunch, recess, and gym together, and graduate in the same ceremony. I am confident that the SINAI-RYNJ relationship that has blossomed over the past five years will continue to flourish and serve as a bright jewel in the crown of our community.”
“We are grateful to the leadership of RYNJ for opening their arms to the children with special needs in our community,” said Rabbi Mark Karasick, Chairman of SINAI’s Board. “RYNJ has followed the lead of our other partner schools, with whom we have enjoyed this same welcoming embrace for decades.” Rabbi Karasick was referring to JKHA, as well as Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, which partners with SINAI’s Maor High School, serving college-bound students with learning and social challenges; Torah Academy of Bergen County, which has partnered for two decades with SINAI’s Shalem High School for students with developmental disabilities; and Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School, which, from the time it first opened its doors, welcomed SINAI’s Shalem High School girls.
Regarding the discussions that resulted in the lease renewal between SINAI and RYNJ, Sam Fishman observed that “You wouldn’t normally think of a lease negotiation in this way, but it was really a moving experience—to feel the emotional connection of RYNJ’s leadership to our students and the enthusiasm with which RYNJ wanted to cement a long-term relationship with SINAI. This is what makes RYNJ and each of our partner schools so special: their desire to do what is right for the community, by selflessly serving those children who otherwise would be left with no options for a Jewish education. And for that, all of SINAI’s partner schools deserve the entire community’s gratitude.”
Originally published in the Jewish Link of Bergen County at http://jewishlinkbc.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=424...