Despite the thousands of miles that separate them, the students at Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth County in Marlboro have a heartfeld bond with the residents of ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran Rehabilitation Village, whose mission is to provide every individual, regardless of physical or cognitive disability, with the best available care and the opportunity to reach his or her fullest potential.
In a Thanks and Giving hesed project, SSDS Judaic studies teacher Mati Franco David and her students strengthened that bond by raising funds to purchase boutique items made by ALEH residents, which were then sold, with all proceeds turned over to the village.
“Morah Mati” made the connection through Doron Almog, with whom she worked in the early 1990s when Almog was chief of the IDF’s Paratroopers Brigade and Infantry Corps. Almog established the ALEH village, naming the facility for his son Eran, who had severe autism and was one of its first residents.
David said she sees her job “as a responsibility to teach her students the values of human dignity and mutual responsibility and love of one’s fellow man, the Jewish people, and the State of Israel.”
“The profound message and sense of mission on the part of Morah Mati and others like her reach out to us from all over the world,” said Almog. There was a time, he said, when individuals with disabilities “were confined to a world of darkness. Socially isolated, they were cast off by a world fraught with prejudice and stigma. Today, hope abounds for the special-needs community, with kindness, acceptance, and understanding of the unique beauty inherent in every individual.”
“I hope to meet Mati and her students during their forthcoming trip to Israel so that I might thank them personally for their loving support,” said Almog.
In a video message to the students Morah Mati and her students expressed their compassion in song for the residents of the village.