February 22, 2020

Help Launch the 1st Jewish Special Needs Day School in LA

By Sarah R’bibo, Guest Blogger

Our youngest daughter Iva was born five years ago with a form of cerebral palsy which has resulted in extensive cognitive and physical special needs. For the first few years of her life, her schooling consisted of secular, state subsidized preschool interspersed with extensive physical, occupational and speech therapies.

As we prepared to transition to kindergarten, we sought to provide her with the Jewish education afforded to our other children, but were shocked to discover that the Los Angeles Jewish community, one of the largest in the country, does not have a Jewish school for children with special needs. Other major Jewish communities such as New York and Miami offer robust educational options for special needs children, but not Los Angeles.

Why would Iva be deprived of being a Shabbat Ima, learning about Chanukah, Pesach, and all of our other beautiful holidays and traditions? If she was deprived, it wouldn’t be because of her disabilities, but rather because of the lack of a Jewish day school to cater to her needs. How many Jewish special needs children in Los Angeles before her have faced the same challenges and lack of opportunity?

Together with a handful of other dedicated families, we are working to change all this by founding the first Jewish day school in Los Angeles focused on children with special needs. In doing so, we seek to ensure that the special needs children in our community are afforded the same opportunities as all of our other Jewish children. This fall 2017, we have partnered with the Friendship Circle of Los Angeles (FCLA) to launch an inaugural class for our daughter and several other children in the community. FCLA has a beautiful facility complete with a classroom, adapted playground and soon to be opened sensory room.

We are touched by the outpouring of support we have received for this project. However, we still need to raise additional funds to cover use of the facilities and salaries for the teachers and assistants, as well as supplies for the classroom. Please open your hearts to the special needs children of our community and give them access to the Jewish education they deserve so they can become successful, contributing members of our community. Providing a Jewish education for all children despite their disabilities is a truly important cause to which everyone in our community should be committed.

Please click on the following link to contribute: https://jewishspecialneedsschool.donorzen.com/. Alternatively, checks can be made payable to Friendship Circle of Los Angeles and mailed to 1952 S. Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034. Friendship Circle of Los Angeles is a registered 501(c)(3), and all contributions are 100% tax deductible. All donations of any size are appreciated.

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