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Supported by Federation, Kesher provides Jewish and Secular education for special needs children

Students at the Brauser Maimonides Academy, including Kesher children, have computers in their classrooms.
Kesher offers a wonderful Judaic and secular education, in a Jewish day school setting, for children with special needs. The program began in 1995 when South Florida day school administrators, teachers and parents recognized the growing need for a Jewish special education program.

Today – supported by both the Jewish Federation of Broward County and our Federation’s Jewish Community Foundation – Kesher provides a first-rate Judaic and secular education for children who are diagnosed learning disabled, and may have dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, developmental delays, or other factors that affect the way they learn. In order to accomplish their goals, the highly qualified staff at Kesher – headquartered at the Samuel Scheck Hillel Community Day School and Ben Lipson Hillel Community High School in North Miami, and now also at the Brauser Maimonides Academy in Fort Lauderdale – meets the individual needs of the children, and nurtures their self-esteem, based on genuine accomplishment and success.

“Right now, the second year of coordination and collaboration between Brauser Maimonides and Kesher is definitely in full swing,” said the Brauser Maimonides Academy’s Head of School, Rabbi Avram Skurowitz.

Skurowitz noted that Jeri Becker, principal of the Lower School Division in Kesher, visits Brauser Maimonides Academy weekly where she provides consultation for the resource room; acts as an impartial observer for parents requesting a second opinion concerning further screening for learning disabilities; and offers teachers suggestions for in-class strategies to assist students with learning issues.

“The coordination between Brauser Maimonides Academy and Kesher has been a wonderful professional relationship that has resulted in improved recommendations for testing, increased strategies for our teachers and students, and more support for our parents,” Skurowitz said. “And we’re especially grateful to the Jewish Federation of Broward County for their continuing help in allowing us to benefit from this wonderful relationship.”     

The Kesher program, which serves kindergarten through grade 12, emphasizes a low student-teacher ratio, and teaching methods and materials focused on each child’s learning style. With computers in every classroom, there is a specialized general curriculum in language arts, math, social sciences, science and computers, as well as a specialized Judaic curriculum in Hebrew language, Torah studies, prayer and observances. In addition, psychological services, speech and occupational and physical therapy are readily available.

As for the schools hosting Kesher, they provide mainstreaming opportunities for the children in the program, encourage the use of media centers, and fully include those students in the celebration of Jewish and secular holidays.

“We look forward to a long and fruitful interaction with the Kesher program,” Skurowitz said. “It is a valuable program, it serves a real need, and it is truly helping our community’s children.”

Anyone who wants more information on programs for the developmentally disabled in the Jewish community in Broward County can contact Adam Bronstone at abronstone@jewishbroward.org, or go to JewishBroward.org/vision.