All Ohef Sholom Temple children can breathe the air (know the word) (eat of the tree) of Torah

February 24, 2022

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V’shinantam l’vanecha, “you shall teach your children, all your children”

This philosophy has guided Ohef Sholom Temple in providing a meaningful and appropriate Jewish education for all in its Religious School—creating a welcoming and inclusive environment in which all students, regardless of their needs, learn and succeed.

Generous grants from the Simon Family Foundation and the Dozoretz Family Fund will help ensure that all the school’s children receive the best Jewish education possible.

The world exists only because of the innocent breath of school children. Talmud Shabbat

Dozoretz Family Fund

Approximately five years ago, OST received start-up funding from United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and subsequently from Tidewater Jewish Foundation to implement the collective vision of having every Jewish student, regardless of ability, receive access to quality Jewish education and the opportunity to participate meaningfully in Jewish life.

“We were incredibly excited to help provide high quality special education services, expertise, and support to enable students with diverse learning needs to succeed in Jewish educational settings and have that child and family feel like full participants of our community,” says Alvin Wall, OST congregant and UJFT and TJF past president. “It is what an empowering and inclusive Jewish community is supposed to do and what ours does.”

Educate a youngster according to their own way and needs. Then, even, when they grow old, they will not depart from it. Proverbs 22

To that end, over the last five years, OST has developed a Jewish Special & Individualized Education Program that integrates accredited and credentialed faculty and created individualized educational plans that have rivaled and served as a continuum for those developed in the child’s secular environment. It has already served 25 students with many in the program for multiple years. The overwhelming majority of these students (95%) spend most of the day integrated into the regular school routine.

A person who teaches a child is as if the person has created that child. Talmud Sanhedrin

An incredible multi-year gift from the Dozoretz Family Fund will enable the school to sustain and build upon its achieved accomplishments. It lays the foundation for the school to increase its program outreach and capacity to educate 50% more students. It will provide more opportunities for specialized professional training and the purchase of adaptive educational equipment and material. It will generate the hiring of more staff for greater personalized, individual student attention.

Moreover, the grant will fund the establishment of a new OST program that will foster outreach to families of young pre-school age children who may require unique accommodations to attend events. The early childhood intervention program called “Wiggles and Giggles” will be a mission, vision, and values extension of the OST Jewish Individualized Education Program.

Teachers and schoolchildren are society’s most beautiful jewels. Song of Songs

Shari Dozoretz Friedman and Renee Dozoretz Strelitz say their motivation for giving is a way of honoring their late father, Ron Dozoretz’s legacy: “Our father’s life’s work was dedicated to the mental health and special needs community. We are honored to support this important program at OST in memory of our father. We hope that it will be impactful in continuing to create a more inclusive Jewish environment in Tidewater.”

Simon Family Foundation

Kim Simon Fink explains the “why” of her family’s ongoing support of OST’s Religious School:

“As former OST Religious School students, as parents sending our own off every Sunday, myself, a “Parsha Maven” who burst into classrooms K-10 presenting 5-minute weekly parsha sermons, and finally, as a Confirmand speech “fine-tuner”—my favorite annual gig to not only offer some tips about public speaking that our 10th grade students can take on their journeys forward, but most importantly, to get to know them and appreciate the learning, insights, skills, and camaraderie they graduate with at the end of their OST schooling.

Because Religious School isn’t an extension of the learning approaches they get during the week.

Because Religious School, from committee to staff and teachers endeavors to change things up.

Because Religious School breaks through traditional walls taking students out and about in their communities via myriad field trips that teach, introduce, and enforce community activism—our Jewish precept of Tikkun Olam.

Because for four generations and counting, we of the Simon Family Foundation know the blueprint of our Sunday Schooling at Ohef Sholom.

Because of this and so much more, we are grateful and appreciative of what Ohef Sholom offers to our own, as well as to our community beyond.

“With our Simon Family Foundation grant, it is our pleasure to be a part of this continuing process—the partnership in educating our students.

“We of the Simon Family Foundation know what happens after the last parent has dropped off and sped away,” says Fink. “I’ve experienced, firsthand, the energy levels, the variety of creative educational approaches that engage, the specialized attention to a variety of needs—both physical and emotional, the friendships…and the fun.”

Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg says, “Teaching Judaism to our children is among the most important mitzvot in Torah. The generous gifts of the Simon Family Foundation and the Dozoretz Family Fund ensure that every single child in our school will receive an innovative, quality, and meaningful Jewish education regardless of their different abilities and/or learning challenges. We cannot thank enough Kim Simon Fink, Britt Simon and Ben Simon, as well as Shari Dozoretz Friedman and Renee Dozoretz Strelitz for sharing their love of Judaism with future generations of our people. They have made the teaching of L’Dor Vador a reality. For this, among many others, ‘We of Ohef Sholom are eternally grateful.’”

Jewish families who do not think their children can get a Jewish education because of learning needs, should consider the Jewish Special & Individualized Jewish Education Program at Ohef Sholom. Call Ohef Sholom at 757‑625‑4295 and ask for Kitty Wolf, OST director of education.

-Harry Graber and Ohef Sholom Temple staff
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