May has been a difficult month for the Jewish People. Although so many wonderful things have happened at Keren Or – planting, baking, creating, and learning – it's difficult to close our eyes and hearts to the events around us. Collectively, our Nation was struck by the tragedy in Meiron, when 45 special individuals were crushed to death in the largest civilian catastrophe in the history of our State. One of those killed was Donny Morris, of blessed memory, the son of my childhood friend Aryeh, which made the loss feel even more personal. Following Meiron, we were hit by terrorist attacks that resulted in the death of 19-year old Yehuda Guetta, and now we are being bombarded by hundreds of rockets daily, and are witnessing violent riots in our usually peaceful, Jewish-Arab cities.
My family and I live in Yad Binyamin, approximately 20 minutes from the coastal city of Ashdod. Hamas missiles send us running for cover on an almost daily basis. Sadly, my daughters (aged 12-21) are all too familiar with this routine. They have perfected the "60-second dash," the race to our safe-room when the siren wails. They know how to lie face-down on the ground and protect their heads if they are ever caught outside during a siren, how to calm themselves with deep breaths, and how to use black humor to lighten the mood. On Saturday, we watched the iron dome deploy 30 times over our heads and as I was writing this letter, oncoming missiles sent us running for shelter once again.
The first siren of this latest round of attacks from Gaza sounded last Monday in Jerusalem, just before dismissal time at Keren Or. I don't think I can describe what it means to evacuate blind students in wheelchairs to a bomb shelter in less than 90 seconds. I am so proud of the Keren Or staff for their calm, professional response. Not only did they keep the children safe, but they managed to preserve a cheerful, upbeat environment that gave the children a sense of physical and emotional security.
Despite it all, life at Keren Or continues. We do our best to put aside our own anxiety and to give the children the love, therapies, and enrichment that they need to thrive. This month, our students learned about the holidays of lag b'omer, Jerusalem Day, and Shavuot. They went on field trips, began planting a new herb garden, baked chocolate soufflés for Shabbat and cheesecake for Shavuot, enjoyed specially-adapted "extreme sports" with the organization "Etgarim," and were treated to a Jerusalem Day concert. I hope you'll enjoy reading about some of these activities in this month's edition of Keren Or HighLIGHTS.
Please give your children and grand-children an extra hug tonight. Thank you for keeping our Keren Or children in your heart and mind as we hope for a brighter future for all children everywhere.
With thanks for your support and prayers for peace,