February HighLIGHTS

From Shira Reifman, CEO of Keren Or
"We See With Our Hearts"
Dear Friends,

February is usually one of my favorite months here in Israel. As the winter rains color the landscape green and almond trees burst with dreamy white blossoms; I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this Land and my deep love for the People of it. This month, as we celebrated T"U B'shvat, the "new year of the trees," with our Keren Or students, we were reminded that after the cold, dark winter, spring returns and hope springs eternal.

This February, however, has been one of the most difficult I can remember. 14 Israelis -- including two sets of brothers -- have been murdered in terrorist attacks over the past month, and our nation has been torn apart by internal conflict. While I try to focus on all of the joyous, wonderful things happening within the walls of Keren Or, I cannot help but feel heartbroken by the loss of life and breakdown of civil discourse.

Over the past few days, the cry "we are all brothers" has begun to be heard. We share the pain of the victims' families and declare that we must view one another with empathy and compassion, even when we disagree. I believe that our Keren Or students teach us this lesson more pointedly than anyone else. I often say that "at Keren Or, we see with our hearts" and this is precisely the challenge and imperative of this moment.

In the coming weeks, I urge you to add light to our struggling world. Give a mishloach manot Purim package to someone you don't know. Call a friend who needs a "pick-me-up." Invite someone who's alone for a Sabbath or holiday meal. Look with empathy, judge with compassion, and see with your heart. After this cold, dark winter, may we see spring return.

Our hope, our Tikvah, springs eternal.
Parents Day in Our
"Communication Kindergarten"
This year, Keren Or opened a new language and communication preschool class for 3-6 year olds who have visual impairments, multiple disabilities, AND are diagnosed with Autism. Jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, and Keren Or, each student receives up to 14 hours of weekly therapies and services, including hydrotherapy, music therapy, communication therapy, occupational therapy and special DIR/Floortime play therapy designed for children with autism.
The staff receives continuous professional training, and attends weekly meetings to review each child's progress. Parents attend weekly one-on-one guidance sessions with the Keren Or social worker to help them cope and learn how best to interact with their child.

This month, we were delighted to have an open day for parents and to share our daily routine and special activities with them! The day began with an interactive lecture for the parents by the DIR specialist, followed by a host of activities where parents could implement what they learned.
Parents and children did an obstacle course together, learned about oranges through a variety of sensory activities, and enjoyed a music group. The parents concluded the day with a closing circle led by the Keren Or social worker and the classroom teacher where they shared beautiful reflections about the day with their children. We are so proud to be providing this unique service in Israel, and to be strengthening family bonds!
A Very Special Bat Mitzvah:
Great-Granddaughter of Keren Or Founder
This month, we welcomed Amana Igra, great-granddaughter of Keren Or founder, Yaakov Igra, for a special volunteer activity in honor of her bat mitzvah.

Amana and her father, Boaz, were met by veteran staff members who told Boaz and Amana the history of Keren Or and shared personal memories of the founders. They recalled the sense of family that Yaakov Igra instilled at Keren Or, a feeling that persists until today.
Amana made wax candles with the students, participated in a sing-a-long with musical instruments, and helped take the students to the multi-sensory Snoezelen room.

Keren Or offers a variety of mitzvah programs for your bar or bat mitzvah. We work with you to tailor a meaningful experience based on the interests of the bar or bat mitzvah child. Contact us to schedule a visit or a volunteer opportunity in Israel or the US. We can't wait to celebrate with you!
International Partnership:
Keren Or and the Perkins Institute
Keren Or is honored to partner with the world-renowned Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts. Over the years, Keren Or and Perkins have co-sponsored conferences and trained special education teachers throughout Israel about Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI).

This past month, Natalie DeWitt from Perkins came to Keren Or in Jerusalem where she led a workshop: Teaching Strategies for Students with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities at the Sensorimotor Stage of Development. The day included instructional seminars, videos, and a pratical discussion on implementation of techniques and strategies.

We look forward to our continued partnership and ongoing professional development as we train Israel's leaders in the field.
Join Team Keren Or for the NYC Marathon!!!

Sunday, November 5th, 2023
Guarantee your spot in the NYC marathon by running for the children of Keren Or!
For more details and to register:

330 West 38th Street
Suite 1007
New York, NY 10018
3 Abba Hillel St.
Ramot 91234
Jerusalem, Israel