Jun 11, 2009
Students should be aware of one fact as they finish their final exams and gear up for their summer vacations: apparently, even after classes are over, even after graduation, the spirit and values of the school stay with you.
That fact was apparent as a group of alumni from the Yeshiva of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School, accompanied by Rabbi Naftali Besser, recently visited ALEH in Jerusalem.
For its part, the Yeshiva of Flatbush has encouraged its students, over the years, to grow into caring, responsible and active members of the Jewish people. It has become somewhat of a tradition for students, faculty and parents to make a yearly pilgrimage to ALEH, to visit the special-needs residents, offering them unconditional love and acceptance. The positive impact of these visits is apparent; the severely disabled children of ALEH cannot express their feelings in words, but the joy on their faces speaks volumes, and the palpable air of excitement lingers well after the visitors have left.
Apparently, the visits have left an indelible impression on the visitors as well. Armed with the memory of their last visit a few years back, a group comprised of 6 couples and 8 university students – all Yeshiva of Flatbush graduates – headed back to ALEH recently, to revisit the children they remembered so well.
The special Yeshiva of Flatbush Chessed Mission to Israel picked up right where they had left off, recalling the names and special abilities of ALEH’s residents, knowing what they enjoyed and just what would make their eyes light up.
The group first received a short re-orientation about the center, its goals, and the children from the ALEH staff. The group agreed that they share ALEH’s credo: to look beyond the disability to see the inherent potential within each and every child.
The alumni then split up into small groups, joining the children in various activities and assisting teachers in the classrooms. ALEH’s children enjoyed every moment of the personal attention, as the Flatbush group played, talked, and laughed with them. The entire group later congregated in the lobby, where they put on a sensational interactive music festival for the children. The visit ended as it began years ago – with a gathering of all ALEH children and visitors, joined together in song, dance, and a celebration of love and warmth.
As the group left, amidst plans to continue their involvement into the future, one young women wept, moved by what she had just experienced.
It is gratifying to know that ALEH’s vision for a better and brighter future for the special-needs population of Israel is shared by schools in the Diaspora. It is even more heartwarming to see that the strong Jewish values of empathy, communal responsibility, and chessed instilled by the Yeshiva of Flatbush are still embodied by its students well after they have graduated from the school.
ALEH offers its heartfelt thanks to the group, not only for giving so generously of their time, but also for the inspiration to continue striving for a better society, by providing the most vulnerable among us with the opportunity to live a life full of challenge, growth, joy and love.
To arrange a visit for your school or congregation, please contact Dov
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