The middle school at Tenafly Chabad Academy had the privilege of hosting a distinguished guest, Shira Reifman, representing Keren Or, the renowned Jerusalem Center for Blind Children with Multiple Disabilities. Keren Or is a non-profit organization deeply committed to the education and well-being of children in Israel who confront the unique challenges of visual impairment combined with cognitive, developmental, or physical difficulties. Their noble mission is to provide these children with comprehensive care and therapeutic support, enabling them to realize their full potential and lead lives rich in meaning and productivity.
Keren Or is truly an extraordinary institution, a beacon on a global scale. It stands as the exclusive therapy center of its kind in the world, operating under Jewish auspices and wholeheartedly dedicated to the visually impaired population. Their approach is characterized by an abundance of love, patience and professionalism, with a devoted team, resilient students and supportive families. The organization’s central focus revolves around nurturing an unwavering sense of optimism regarding the potential each student can attain when given the right opportunities and support.
Reifman shared her profound insights with middle school students, speaking passionately about her students and their distinctive learning methods. She also offered a glimpse into the remarkable therapeutic approaches employed at Keren Or. In a thought-provoking exercise, Reifman actively engaged the children, presenting them with an image and gradually altering its orientation until they could recognize it as a picture of a cow. This exercise closely mirrored the cognitive development strategies utilized at Keren Or, nurturing young minds in a similar fashion.
Additionally, Reifman demonstrated how books in the Keren Or library are adapted for visually impaired students, with tactile packages containing various objects in place of traditional pictures. For instance, with the book “The Growing Tree,” she invited three students to close their eyes and, without prior knowledge of the book, encouraged them to feel the props within the library bag. The bag contained a piece of wood, a plastic apple, and three dolls, each representing a boy, a man, and an elderly man. This innovative approach allows visually impaired children to experience the story in a unique and engaging manner, transcending visual limitations.
Reifman shared a heartwarming video featuring children from Keren Or, capturing their radiant smiles and testimonials from their parents. The video vividly illustrated the profound impact that Keren Or has had on these children’s lives, underscoring the significance of gratitude. The program left the students deeply moved, prompting moments of reflection and gratitude as they expressed their thanks to Hashem for their own blessings.