The Kulanu Circle – An Inclusion Based Jewish Education Program For Children With Special Needs Provides Engaging & Meaningful Jewish Education

Chabad of Kendall & Pinecrest is proud to offer The Kulanu Circle through a grant from the Ruderman Family Foundation. Kulanu is the only Religious School program in Miami geared specifically to providing a Jewish education to children with special needs. Before starting this one-of-a-kind program in our community, Jewish families found no opportunities for their children with special needs to attend a Hebrew school/Religious School. Over the years, the lives of the children and families who participated in this program have been enriched. The transformations that have taken place are truly miraculous.

Children with special needs thrive in Kulanu Hebrew School classrooms. Like their brothers and sisters who attend the Sholem Epelbaum Chabad Hebrew School, they learn prayers, blessings, songs and Hebrew. They learn about Jewish living, customs, holidays and mitzvahs. They taste traditional Jewish foods and create art projects.

Many children start the program shy, unsure and lacking confidence. They end the year proud and confident. The children accomplish things that many of their parents did not believe possible. They are now able to join their parents and brothers and sisters in song and prayer. They no longer have to sit in silence during blessings. Can you imagine the joy that these families are feeling?

In addition, many children on the spectrum as well as children with other types of disabilities have experienced a beautiful Bar/Bat Mitzvah customized for their ability and their level. Parents have been able to marvel and bask in the joy of watching their child reach this milestone and celebrate in a meaningful way.

Happy parents have been providing us with uplifting and positive feedback. Devorah Leah Mann, a young mother who drives her son from Miami Beach every Sunday for the last three years so he can attend  Kulanu, shares, “Giving Mendel the opportunity to interact with other children in a Jewish environment with songs and an interactive way of learning with gifted professionals is something we have cherished for the last three years.”

Parents and family members are given the opportunity to take an active role in family holiday celebrations at Hebrew School and meet other parents. Our Hebrew School classes are taught by special education professionals who created personalized Hebrew curriculums for each child based on his/her ability and learning style. An aba therapist in the classroom helps ensure that the teacher can focus on engaging the children while the aba therapist focuses on managing the behavior of the students in in the classroom. In addition, a music teacher helps the children connect to Jewish holidays and traditions through music and popular Jewish songs.

Inclusion activities and principles are the driving force of this dynamic program – the belief that none of us is complete unless all of us are included. By building in the opportunity for inclusion with other Hebrew School classes at Chabad of Kendall & Pinecrest, both sets of children benefit from increased acceptance and tolerance of others.

Beyond the religious education, children’s social, physical and cognitive skills are also nurtured. Each child is accompanied by a teenage volunteer from the Friendship Circle of Miami. This special partner not only provided assistance to our teachers and one-to-one individualized attention to the child, but also offered the gift of friendship. What a priceless gift.

Mendel and Talia

Registration for 2018-19 Kulanu Circle is open. The Kulanu Circle, for children ages 5-13, meets conveniently on Sunday mornings.

Kulanu’s mission is to teach children about the richness of their Jewish heritage and instill pride and self-assurance in their identity as valued members of the Jewish community. The benefits of attending Hebrew School go far beyond learning about the Jewish roots and practices. Religious school lays a strong foundation and teaches morals, values and ethics not taught in other educational settings.

The Kulanu Circle, Sholem Epelbaum Chabad Hebrew School and Friendship Circle of Miami are led by Executive Director Nechama Harlig. We are so grateful to the generous partnerships that make The Kulanu Circle possible, including the Ruderman Family Foundation, Chabad of Kendall & Pinecrest, Sholem Epelbaum Chabad Hebrew School and the Friendship Circle of Miami.

I invite you to learn more about The Kulanu Circle. Call Chabad of Kendall & Pinecrest at 305-234-5654, Ext. 11


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