The following article appeared in the March ’09 bulletin of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue

[Synagogue members have asked how money distributed by our Trust Fund is used. The story below, from the Sanhedria Children’s Home in Israel, provides one example.]

Shalom is nine years old and learned how to read earlier this year. His accomplishment is nothing short of miraculous.

Up until the age of five, Shalom basically lived in a crib. He was not spoken or read to, nor was he taken for walks or to visit friends or on excursions to the supermarket. His parents are highly dysfunctional with borderline intelligence. When Social Services entered the picture, Shalom was five and a half and had not been to nursery school, let alone kindergarten. He had minimal verbal and social skills and was severely lacking in general knowledge. He could not even tell you what was blue or red or green. But he did know how to walk.

Shalom’s extremely neglectful circumstances enabled the caseworker to get an immediate order from the High Court of Justice for Juveniles to remove him from his parents’ custody. He subsequently was placed in the Sanhedria Children’s Home. Sanhedria is a rehabilitation center in Jerusalem for boys 6 to 15 years old who suffered severe physical and emotional neglect and abuse in early childhood. Under the supervision of the Ministry of Welfare and partially government-funded, the Home provides for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of these kids by ensuring a warm and loving home with advancement opportunities.

When Shalom moved into Sanhedria, his emotional and academic abilities were professionally evaluated. Initially determined to be backwards, he was enrolled in a special needs kindergarten. Although acutely deprived of all things children need to grow and develop normally, he was now being stimulated and adapting well to his new surroundings. He participated in the many therapeutic programs and activities offered at the Home. Sessions of play therapy and private tutoring helped bring him up to speed. Compassionate and patient surrogate parents (see living conditions on Sanhedria’s website) continue to nurture and encourage Shalom, opening his eyes to a beautiful world that he now shares in.

Shalom is a long way off from his peers, but every day brings progress, and the love and care he receives at Sanhedria empower him to be the best he can be.
(U.S. telephone (866) 409-5718).