When there is no sunshine, the plant grows awry. It may have sprouted from a healthy seed but the dusky gloom impedes its development. Chanochi was such a plant. He was born perfectly healthy but the sunshine of a loving mommy was missing in his life. It was during his infancy that a sibling passed away and together with the sibling was buried his mommy’s laughter, her joy in her newborn, her desire to nurture. Chanochi was fed. He was diapered. His clothes were kept clean but nothing more. And so Chanochi grew. His body matured. His motor skills developed. But nothing more. He was quite developmentally delayed and did not communicate with others. Ever. He moved from home to school on a daily basis but had no relationships. A childish giggle never escaped his lips. He did not participate in pre-school activities and simply sat there, waiting for the day to end so that another one can begin…so that it also can end… Continue reading A Plant Named Chanochi
“I must have repeated it four hundred times and I still couldn’t get through to her,” said the young, new preschool teacher. I smiled and said that maybe it has to be four hundred heartbeats from a loving heart…From her face I could tell that the lesson was learned. She now had the key.”
The Tosfos Yom Tov (a sage) assigns the term “golem” (slang for ‘fool’) to someone who possesses intellectual abilities not yet sufficiently developed and polished. The word, he says, comes from the word golmi, raw, unfinished. We are not speaking here of an ignoramus. “Golem” in the language of the Sages implies “immaturity.” It is our job to develop the underdeveloped. And how much effort must we put in?
Hagaon Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Shu”t Igros Moshe YD vol. 3, siman 71): “One must never give up when you see that a student is not learning as he should as long as he is not having a bad effect on anyone else, you must encourage him; maybe he will begin listening and improve his ways. Teachers must realize that their work is melechet hakodesh, a holy task, not like a secular job. He must work faithfully, not according to his salary. It is incumbent upon him once he accepted his position to work to the true extent of his capability.
And our teachers are trained to do just that. To create an emotional connection and to give and give and give again. But even angelic teachers have limitations. And so what do we do?
In addition, what do we do with a child who comes regularly to Gan (pre-school) at a late or unusually early hour a child who comes to Gan slovenly, dressed inappropriately for the weather, with unkempt hair, with sandals on a cold, rainy day, chronically lice-ridden, regular bedwetting, unclean, neglected impression, no responses to the weekly contact page, no feedback whatsoever on what is taught in Gan, a mother who never makes an appearance in Gan, not even to parties, no birthday celebration. Her food is also inappropriate – sometimes very sparse, sometimes in exaggerated amounts. She is learning next to nothing and hardly aware that she is sitting in a classroom.
What do we do? We turn to our partner, Ezer Mizion. With its many, many programs, an answer will almost always be found within its walls. Sometimes it is a Life Coach to work with the mother until she is able to handle the household on her own. Or it may be an understanding volunteer to act as a big sister. Perhaps babysitting or cleaning help for the mother who is overwhelmed or tutoring for the child whose cognitive level is underdeveloped. It may be advice regarding government services and assistance in the red tape that goes with it. The Ezer Mizion telephone number is in the contact page of mosdos (institutions) and individuals throughout Eretz Yisroel.
Thank you, Ezer Mizion, for enabling us to fulfill what the Torah tells us when it says: “If your brother becomes impoverished with you…”
Continue reading Not a Golem – Just in Need of Help by Educational Supervisor Esther Klein
As everyone knows, early childhood is a time of great developmental significance. The spectrum of areas that can be evaluated and treated at this age is quite broad. In fact, some of them can be treated only at this age. At the initiative of Ezer Mizion, in collaboration with the Bnei Brak Municipality and the National Good Beginning Program, the Peninat Sarit and Peninat Batsheva daycare center network has begun running the Active Nurturing Playground in their preschools. At this point, the project has been launched as a pilot program in the Bnei Brak and Afula centers. Continue reading Diagnosis at the Playground