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By Joanne Palmer on Jan 31, 2014
Contest for students highlights the unity designed into school’s diversityThe Kushner students “were always nice to him, but it was very difficult to engage him,” Rabbi Rubin said. There were no specific problems, more a kind of failure to thrive.The student enrolled in the drama club, the rabbi continued. And then, yes, it happened, just like in the movies. “When he was comfortable performing and reading a scripted part, his performance was just exceptional. It was a moment of complete communal crying. The students at the school stood up and gave him a standing ovation.”It is important to...
By Elizabeth Kratz on Jan 24, 2014
Teaneck—There is a boy who calls his grandmother on his bus ride home each day from school, of course to tell her that he loves her, but also to tell her, with unabashed glee, what he had for lunch that day. Until this fall, this child with special needs was in public school, before switching to Sinai Schools. “There can be so many barriers to normalcy for a Jewish child with special needs in a public school. Just to be able to have a kosher lunch in the lunchroom with all the other kids in the school, it made him so happy,” said Sam Fishman, managing director of Sinai Schools. The...
By Esther Klavan on Dec 2, 2013
As both a parent and educator, I find myself using the phrase, “What’s your plan?” countless times throughout the week. Whether in response to my own child remarking that he left his math textbook at school and cannot do his homework, or a student coming to let me know that he has two Shabbatonim on the same weekend, my response is typically, “What’s your plan?”These simple words are empowering. They inherently validate the individual’s concern or dilemma by virtue of merely being heard, and simultaneously shift the responsibility back on him to become a problem solver. Quite often the...
By Judith Karp, Associate Dean on Nov 3, 2013
I got in the car after school and with a sense of dread, turned on the news station. It was just a few days after the Nevada Middle School shooting and I needed my daily dose of traffic reports to make it home.I soon heard that there was another violent incident in a Middle School in Massachusetts and my heart sank. A Middle School student stabbed a 24 year old beloved teacher and dragged her body into the woods behind the school.Lately the tragic stories of senseless acts of violence seem to occur on a daily basis.What is going on? Is it the ubiquitous exposure to violence that has caused...
By Rabbi Dr. Yisrael Rothwachs i on Oct 21, 2013
From the first day you put your preschooler on the bus until the day he or she graduates from high school, communication with school is central to understanding your child’s progress. For most parents, communication with teachers is reserved primarily for formal conferences. Parents of children with special needs, however, often seek more regular communication with teachers. The stakes are simply higher when a child experiences academic or social challenges. Sometimes, parents’ emotion or passion can be misperceived as misplaced aggression or lack of confidence, when in fact their intention...
By Rabbi Dr. Yisrael Rothwachs on Oct 17, 2013
Over the last few decades, the world of Jewish education and social services has exploded. We are fortunate to live in an era when resources are available to individuals with disabilities, and expertise is being developed and refined to address a myriad of challenges facing those individuals – challenges that in the past often were ignored. Although the stigma associated with having a disability continues to cast a thick cloud over many in our community, today both children and adults are able to access services which were unavailable in previous generations, services that promote not only...
By Rabbi Dr. Yisrael Rothwachs on Dec 19, 2012
All of the recent speculation blaming Asperger’s for the shooter’s homicidal behavior in last week’s Newton, CT tragedy is outrageous. I understand that this horrific tragedy has ignited a host of social and political dialogues with the intention of assuring that the innocent have not given their lives in vain but have somehow allowed us as a nation to improve. At least one dialogue, however, has unfortunately brought some people to revert to misguided ignorance, leading to the legitimization of bias and stigma. Priscilla Gillman, in her NYT article, “Don’t Blame Autism for Newtown”,...

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