American Jewish Society For Distinguished Children
Tel: 718 778 0111| Email: Heart to Heart
Eighteen years ago Elliot and Sheffy Jamel had a boy whom they named David. David was born with Down syndrome. Rabbi Eliezer Goldstock met the family at the time that David was born and through all of the years and all of the confusion the parents were willing to take all of the necessary risks and keep and accept their child (not that it was ever in doubt that they would) and raise him in the best possible environment and offer him the best possible opportunities to reach his full potential.
When it came time for him to attend school the only options at that time in the orthodox Jewish community was a program made up exclusively of only boys who had "Down syndrome," or a bi lingual Yiddish and English speaking program also exclusively for special needs children or simply a public school special ed program.
There was a third option that had never been fully or properly implemented to completion and it was only a theory as far as the Yeshiva world was concerned. They discussed this third option with Rabbi Goldstock who along with his wife Chana were big proponents of the concept of "inclusion." It was a distant and daunting option that was overwhelming, frightening, and seemingly impossible at the time. None the less the Jemals embraced the concept as their only option and they enthusiastically began a collaboration with Rabbi Goldstock to
develop a full inclusion educational plan that would successfully be completed over the past fifteen years.
As challenging as that task was, to the credit of the Jemals, Rabbi Goldstock was given complete carte blanche to develop the program both as a short and long term educational system with the full participation, approval, and blessing of the principal, hanhollah, faculty, students, and therapists, etc.
It was not always an easy path but it was, at every phase, always successful. It was a success because the family and the school wanted it to be and made it a point to fully understand it and so it was.
Whenever a question arose over all of these years it was always addressed as a problem to be solved and never as a threat to the program itself. The Yeshiva, to its credit, was a most positive participant-influence and their input and participation along with the parents were an absolute credit to the entire concept of inclusion, collaboration, and even when any new challenge came up the team never wavered not once and there were many opportunities for the parents to back out.
Last night, for the very first time anywhere, after a 15 year journey through pre school, elementary school, and high school, David, who was born 18 years ago with Down syndrome, graduated from Ateret Torah Yeshiva in Brooklyn, New York. There were a number of boys in the class who not only scored in the nineties on their regents but they graduated an entire class who from the stand point of midos tovos and ahavas Yisroel all scored a perfect 100. They are without a question an amazing group of young men. They are almost all going on to learn in Beit Midrash, as is David, and they are committed to maintaining a solid friendship and life long relationship with David. David is already ahead of the game for at the age of 18 he still has a full social life and is a fully accepted member of the peer community.
We are delighted to share this great success and now everyone is anticipating David’s next milestone and seeing him fulfill the Torah to his full and complete potential.
HEART TO HEART: Was formed in 1990, by a group of parents who realized the need to put a halt to the practice of abandoning infants at birth simply because they were not born perfect in their eyes. The demands became so great that it became an overwhelming task that eventually required people from all of the major cities in the world to participate at one time or another. The Board is honored to have a Nobel Laureate in Professor Ellie Wiesel as well as many dedicated and knowledgeable parents, friends, and professionals.
Credited with stemming the tide of relinquishing Jewish babies outside the Tribe of Israel, HEART TO HEART is on call 24/7. Many parents who have kept their children and initially wanted to give up have written to us years later expressing their deepest thanks and gratitude for saving them from making the most tragic decision of their lives, at a moment of confusion, and for encouraging them to keep their families together.
The organization has thus far worked with over 8,000 families world wide and has provided parity in favor of acceptance and services that advocate for infants to remain where they belong, at home with their parents and siblings. When that is simply not possible due to the many genuine variables then Heart to Heart provides everything necessary to help make the transition to acceptance into an all new, warm and caring family.
HEART TO HEART: The American Jewish Society for Distinguished Children is an IRS not for profit 501 c 3 and is a registered not for profit charity in the State of New York, State of Nevada, and the IRS.
Lev Yerushalayim metzuyanim, for Distinguished Adults with Downs Syndrome. Jerusalem branch of Heart to Heart American. The vision- To open a Center in Yerushalayim to assist English speaking adults with Downs Syndrome to successfully integrate, ie. live, learn, and work, in Israeli society to the best of their potential and thus enable their families to make aliya and follow their dreams.
Click here to view a video produced by Heart to Heart.
Our population has, thank G-d, grown as it has increased and there is a serious and immediate need for long term care in a safe and caring environment. This requires along with the proper preparation, education, and nurture a physical brick and mortar facility that will best serve this unique "English speaking" population from all over the world to a place they can live in acceptance, a place they can call home, in the Land of Israel.
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