April HighLIGHTS
From the Desk of Shira Reifman, CEO of Keren Or
Dear Friends,

I hope you had a beautiful Passover surrounded by friends and family. After two years of pandemic protocols, small seders, and extreme caution, Passover in Israel was full of gatherings and special events this year! We were delighted to see tourists return, and were thrilled to welcome guests to Keren Or during this period.

Unfortunately, after two years of "dodging the Corona bullet," I, personally, tested positive for Covid a few days before Passover. While it gave me a good excuse to have my husband and children clean the kitchen, it also meant that I spent Seder night in quarantine, far from my family. I did my best to participate, but I couldn't see the main event or hear all of the conversation. I felt enormously isolated and alone, disconnected from my loved ones and the community. It gave me pause to reflect on our students' experience of isolation, and it gave me renewed appreciation for the work we do to connect our students to their families, the Jewish community, and the world around them.

In this issue of Keren Or HighLIGHTS, you'll read about some of the ways we made Passover accessible to our students. You'll also read about a very special guest who marked her Bat Mitzvah with a unique celebration at Keren Or.

Thank you for all that you do to help our children feel connected, important and loved. 

With best wishes for continued good health and freedom from all that shackles us,
Shira 
Tactile Hagaddot!
How can children who are blind follow along with the seder? By using a tactile hagaddah that they can feel! Over the course of many weeks, our amazing art teacher, Elisheva, made tactile hagaddahs with every single student in the afternoon program. Each step of the seder had its own page, with 3-dimensional symbols that the children could feel as they "read" along. The children had a wonderful time gluing, painting, creating, and learning.

We're thrilled that our students had something they could bring home and feel proud of for the holiday. Most importantly, we were overjoyed that our students could really be included in their families' celebrations and join in on the seder! Parents told us how engaged their children were, and how delightful it was for their siblings to help our students follow along with the interactive hagaddah!

For a video tour of our tactile hagaddah click here!
Bat Mitzvah Celebration at Keren Or!
Lizzie Stern, an incredible bat mitzvah girl from Woodmere, NY, decided to celebrate her bat mitzvah in an extra special way! While spending the Passover holiday in Israel, the Stern family – Rose, Steven, Lizzie, Jacob and Olivia, visited Keren Or and sponsored a party for the Bar and Bat Mitzvah aged Keren Or students in the after-school program.

After a brief introduction to Keren Or, Lizzie and her family enjoyed a petting zoo experience with our pre-teens. They felt the hard shell of a turtle, listened to the rapid beat of a rabbit's heart, pet hamsters and guinea pigs, held a parakeet, and even watched a race between the tortoise and the hare! Everyone learned a lot about the animals, but more importantly, a lot about each other!
Following the zoo extravaganza, we were treated to a concert by the teen band "Rock Simcha" who got us up and dancing on our feet or in our wheelchairs! The feelings of joy, excitement and celebration were palpable and we had a wonderful time dancing with our new friends! The party concluded with delicious desserts and ice cream for everyone.

Mazal tov to Lizzie on her Bat Mitzvah and to the entire Stern family on this incredible milestone and beautiful celebration! We know that the values that this bat mitzvah girl has internalized will stay with her long into the future. We can't wait to party with you again! 
The Four Children -- Louisa Learns to Speak
“And as for the one who does not know how to ask a question, you should open for him….”

Louisa is a gentle 13-year-old who loves to swing and ride her scooter. She is always happiest in the Keren Or Gymboree! Louisa has ocular blindness and demonstrates autistic tendencies. After a number of unsuccessful school placements, Louisa arrived at Keren Or 3.5 years ago.

350 7th Ave. Suite 1004
New York, NY 10001
United States
3 Abba Hillel St.
Ramot 91234
Jerusalem, Israel
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