April 12, 2024
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A Community Night Out For Yeshivat Shalshelet

Mishlei teaches us, “חֲנֹ֣ךְ לַ֭נַּעַר עַל־פִּ֣י דַרְכּ֑וֹ גַּ֥ם כִּי־יַ֝זְקִ֗ין לֹֽא־יָס֥וּר מִמֶּֽנָּה,” “teach a child according to his way; even when he grows old, he will not veer from it.”

This is the heart of Yeshivat Shalshelet, the first yeshiva day school for students with language-based learning differences. This important value will be on proud display at Shalshelet’s community-wide event on Sunday, March 31.

“We are passionate about giving each child what he or she needs most,” said Shulamit Roth, Shalshelet’s head of school. “School should be engaging, challenging and fun, and also honor each student’s
areas of strength and need. At Shalshelet, this means that a child’s learning profile drives how and what they are taught each day.”

This learning profile is not uncommon, and presents unique challenges to those in yeshiva day school classrooms. As Mrs. Roth explained, “Twenty percent of the population struggles with dyslexia. Davening and learning are central to religious education and continuing our Orthodox tradition, but our text-heavy practices can be challenging for strong readers and writers, let alone those who struggle with language. All children deserve to learn in an environment that utilizes research-based approaches to target their needs, while fostering a deep love for Torah, our religious culture and Eretz Yisrael.”

Rabbi Yaacov Neuburger, rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University and rabbi of Congregation Beth Abraham, continues to emphasize the important role that Shalshelet serves across our communities and provides invaluable guidance as Shalshelet’s posek. Rabbi Neuburger noted that “we have a communal responsibility to support Shalshelet in providing the specialized education needed by these students in an environment that is guided by Torah and mesorah, so that our children are prepared to continue their yeshiva education into high school and their adult lives.”

As an inaugural Shalshelet parent, Rochella Treitel understands the need firsthand. “Shalshelet is the first school to teach students with language-based learning disabilities without compromising yeshiva day school learning. It is the responsibility of every individual in the community at large to support Shalshelet so that no family has to make the difficult choice between literacy and a comprehensive, Torah-based curriculum.

“Children with language-based learning disabilities can succeed and contribute to our society, community and shuls,” she continued. “By ensuring that they receive the necessary skill set, we are not only guaranteeing their ability to flourish but also investing in our community’s future.”

Shalshelet opened its doors to 18 children in September 2022. In under two years, both the school and its students have grown tremendously. Now at 32 students, Shalshelet serves grades two through six, with plans to expand to seventh and eighth grades in the next two school years.

This past fall, the school moved to the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, with flexible space for Shalshelet’s large and small group learning structures, essential to its specialized dual curriculum. The partnership also includes access to the JCC’s gyms, indoor and outdoor courts, fields and auditoriums to enhance Shalshelet’s athletics, arts and music co-curricular programs.

Shalshelet students are thriving, reaching new heights academically and spiritually, with increased self-confidence and social-emotional development. As Mrs. Treitel noted, “When Uri entered second grade he couldn’t string three letters together to sound out a basic word. He is now fluently reading chapter books without any tears. The self-confidence he has now is not something that can be taught, but rather is gained. It’s the unwavering efforts of the staff who have been awarded this credit.”

Shana Kalman, another inaugural parent, agrees: “During his time at Shalshelet, Jack has shown remarkable growth both academically and personally. Shalshelet has been the transformative piece in shaping him into a confident and well-rounded individual, ready to take on whatever the future holds.”

When students like Uri, Jack and their peers are given the tools to succeed, everyone benefits. “Shalshelet is truly a communal school, serving a communal need,” said Menachem Schechter, vice president of Shalshelet’s board. “Our children come from all over Bergen County, Passaic, Riverdale, Manhattan, Queens, the Five Towns, Monsey and beyond.”

Shalshelet is made possible by the incredible support of community members who appreciate the immense need. “Unfortunately, it is impossible for a yeshiva like Shalshelet to operate from tuition alone,” he explained. “We can only ensure that children with learning differences can get a yeshiva day school education through broad communal support.”

Shalshelet’s leadership is proud to invite the broader community to “A Night Out in Support of Yeshivat Shalshelet” on Sunday, March 31. Guests will enjoy an evening with friends from the New York/New Jersey area, with a program featuring mentalist Shlomo Levinger and delicious food. It’s also an opportunity to learn more about Yeshivat Shalshelet and the crucial need it serves in your community.

As Mrs. Roth noted, “As a community, we have shuls, schools and tzedakah organizations that give each individual an opportunity to connect and thrive. Why should these students be excluded? While their struggles may be invisible, these incredible kids deserve a chance to flourish in our community. If we expect them to continue our legacy, it is our responsibility to help them to succeed.”

To learn more about Shalshelet and the March 31 event, please visit shalsheletnj.org/event.

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