Dear Friends and Family,
Thank you for being part of my life and my family’s life. I am excited to see everyone together. If you cannot come, I will miss you. Still, I would like to tell my extended network of family and friends about my Bar Mitzvah project - raising awareness and support for Beit Issie Shapiro.
In my Bar Mitzvah parsha, Vaeara (Exodus 6:2-9:35), we will read together about the large-scale effects of seemingly unrelated events. I am living testimony to the unexpected turn of life’s events.
My great-grandfather was born in 1914 in Zhitomir in the Ukraine. He had cerebral palsy and although he died when I was two years old, he still means a lot to me. I have a picture of us making eye contact, even though I was only one at the time. Shlomoh ben Zaval haCohen and BatSheva Pishnov grew up, held a job, married, survived the siege on Leningrad and raised two Jewish children under Communism. Eventually they all moved to the United States. I am only here today because of my great-great grandparents’ struggle for therapeutic services.
Keep in mind that the siege on Leningrad was the most lethal genocidal siege in history. Over 1.5 million Soviets died. My great-grandfather, being 27 in 1941, would have assuredly been drafted. The death rate among men his age was 36% in World War II or the Great Patriotic War. If my great-grandfather had not had lived to adulthood in the the 1930’s with mild cerebral palsy would I be here?
Beit Issie Shapiro is an organization in Israel performing dedicated to children and adults with developmental disabilities to grow and to become functioning members of society. This organization is a national one, so kids all parts of Israeli society come to become part of the Beit Issie Shapiro community.
Beit Issie Shapiro is a one-of-a-kind institution in Israel. At its core, Beit Issie offers Early Intervention and therapeutic services. They offer a therapeutic daycare for children who cannot enter the mainstream. An important part of their mission is social advocacy for the disabled. As they say,
“Our mission is to make sure that the rights of people with special needs are respected and that they are able to access the educational, health and social services they need.”
Over the summer, I visited Beit Issie Shapiro. It is a truly wonderful place. I saw a new therapy center that helps children to reduce excess stimulation. They offer hydrotherapy in their pool. Beit Issie has a specially tailored dental service for kids with disabilities.. The dedicated staff and teachers (2 staff to 1 student) were everywhere and always watching. It is an ingenious, selfless organization.
I chose to raise awareness of Beit Issie Shapiro as my Bar Mitzvah project for very personal reasons.
My goal is to raise $1800 for Beit Issie. A family member has pledged to match your contribution. Keep in mind that Beit Issie receives very little government funding towards their programs!
Another letter will follow with links to my Bar Mitzvah project. Please see my blog ari-rotenberg.blogspot.com for more information.
Let’s work together to reach my goal!
You never know where your assistance will end.
Thank you for your attention.
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