July 17, 2024
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Meromim Special Ed HS Program in Israel Will Open Enrollment in January

Netanel Goldstein’s dream was to make aliyah and work in the field of special education. After making aliyah with wife Sarah and three young children this past September, Goldstein’s dual dream seems close to realization. In January of 2020 he will be opening enrollment for his new program, which he is calling Meromim, elevating.

Hailing from Chicago, Goldstein resided in Teaneck before his recent aliyah. After completing a master’s degree at Hunter College in adolescent special education, he taught in the Rabbi Mark and Linda Karasick Shalem High School at Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC) for five years. His experience also includes five years as the director of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun’s Hebrew school in Manhattan and three years as a division head at Camp HASC.

Goldstein currently resides in Mishkafayim, a community of approximately 100 families within the Beit Shemesh area. In Moshav Luzit, located between Beit Shemesh and Kiryat Gat, a modern building surrounded by open fields awaits its first contingent of Meromim students. Funded by Adam and Chani Rosenberg of Ramat Beit Shemesh, the specifically designed site will house teenage boys, ages 13 to 17, who display level 1 autism and for whom no appropriate Jewish setting exists in Israel or the U.S. Of the programs that currently exist, in Utah, Massachusetts, Oregon and elsewhere, none can provide the Orthodox Jewish lifestyle to which these young men are accustomed.

As described by Goldstein, “Meromim Israel is a small, residential, therapeutic center for Jewish teenage boys with high-functioning autism. The Meromim program will help them learn to succeed by providing a warm, nurturing environment 24/7. The program will combine individualized academic and therapeutic programs, recreation and a nurturing residential environment to provide specialized therapy for students. Plans for the future include gardening, small animal care, equine-assisted therapy and canine therapy in the expansive rustic surroundings. Shabbat and chagim will be observed to the highest standards, assuring the boys a warm and familiar living environment.”

With the goal of an opening enrollment of 10 boys, Goldstein is determined to launch his program with even fewer students. He has lined up professional therapists, teachers, coaches, residential directors and counselors ready to come aboard in January.

Meromim will offer its students up to four years of instruction but will accomodate students for a portion of that time if indicated. Currently no scholarships are available to help defray the $8,000 monthly tuition, which is considerably less than the $12,000 monthly cost of the U.S. programs.

Hopefully, as the program proves successful in its mission, students will be eligible for scholarships and subsidies.

“Our ultimate goal is to give our students the tools they need to become valued members of their communities, to provide them with hands-on learning experiences and direct them to the skills specific to them that can help them achieve fully functioning lives within society.”

To learn more about Meromim visit www.meromimisrael.com� or contact [email protected].

By Pearl Markovitz

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