Chabad of Kendall & Pinecrest is proud to offer The Kulanu Circle – the only program in Miami that provides a Jewish education to children with special needs. Before starting this one-of-a-kind program last year, Jewish families found no opportunities for their children with special needs to attend a Hebrew school. The lives of the children and families who participated in our program during its first year were enriched. The transformations that took place were truly miraculous.
Children with special needs thrived in our Hebrew School classrooms. Like their brothers and sisters who attend the Sholem Epelbaum Chabad Hebrew School, they learned prayers, blessings, songs and Hebrew. They learned about Jewish living, customs, holidays and mitzvoth. They tasted traditional Jewish foods and created art projects.
Many children started the program shy, unsure and lacking confidence. They ended the year proud and confident. The children accomplished things that many of their parents did not believe possible. They are now able to join their parents and brothers and sisters in song and prayer. They no longer have to sit in silence during blessings. Can you imagine the joy that these families are feeling?
Happy parents provided us with uplifting and positive feedback. A YouTube video reveals the heartfelt appreciation from children and families who participated in last year’s program. I invite you to view it by visiting our website, <www.ChabadofKendall.org>. One of our parents, Melanie Litwin said, “This is such an amazing program for children with special needs and their families. Every Jewish child deserves this opportunity.”
Parents and family members took an active role to work with our teachers to ensure that their child was thriving. Our Hebrew School classes were taught by special education professionals who created personalized Hebrew curriculums for each child based on his/her ability and learning style.
Inclusion activities and principles were the driving force of this dynamic program – the belief that none of us is complete unless all of us are included. By building in the opportunity for inclusion with other Hebrew School classes at Chabad of Kendall & Pinecrest, both sets of children benefitted from increased acceptance and tolerance of others.
Beyond the religious education, children’s social, physical and cognitive skills was also nurtured. Each child was accompanied by a teenage volunteer from the Friendship Circle of Miami. This special partner not only provided assistance to our teachers and one-to-one individualized attention to the child, but also offered the gift of friendship. What a priceless gift!
Everyone is looking forward to this year’s program – now called The Kulanu Circle. The Kulanu Circle, for children ages 4-13, will meet Sunday morning’s beginning in September.
Our mission continues: to teach children about the richness of their Jewish heritage and instill pride and self-assurance in their identity as valued members of the Jewish community. The benefits of attending Hebrew School go far beyond learning about the Jewish roots and practices. Religious school lays a strong foundation and teaches morals, values and ethics not taught in other educational settings.
The Kulanu Circle, Sholem Epelbaum Chabad Hebrew School and Friendship Circle of Miami are led by Executive Director Nechama Harlig. We are so grateful to the generous partnerships that make The Kulanu Circle possible, including the Ruderman Family Foundation, Chabad of Kendall & Pinecrest, Sholem Epelbaum Chabad Hebrew School and the Friendship Circle of Miami. Classes are sponsored in loving memory of Clayton Feig and Moshe Sholom Ben Yudel Dovid – Dr. Morry Fox.
I invite you to learn more about The Kulanu Circle. Call Chabad of Kendall & Pinecrest at 305-234-5654, Ext. 11, or stop by on a Sunday morning this fall.