80 New Meir Shfeyah Graduates, Despite Closures and COVID-19

Thursday, Jul 23 2020

Dan Slobodski and his mother, Jenny Slobodski.

Since Israel first shut its schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hadassah’s Meir Shfeyah Youth Village has been preparing and sending meals to at-risk families, many of whose students returned home to families without the means to support themselves. In Israel, nearly 73 percent of recently unemployed families now need help feeding their children, according to a recent Jewish Agency poll.

Yet Meir Shfeyah students like Dan Slobodski have shown great strength in the face of an especially challenging year, persevering with their studies through the Youth Village’s distance learning on Zoom.

“This month, Dan and 80 other 12th graders graduated from Meir Shfeyah,” writes Lauren Stern Kedem, Hadassah's liaison to the youth village. “Dan’s mother, Jenny Slobodski, shared this letter with me in honor of her son’s graduation.”

A Proud Mother Shares Her Gratitude.

I'm Dan's mom. My son is graduating from Meir Shfeyah today. Dan had always found it difficult to fit into his previous schools but was wise enough to understand that he had to look for another framework to suit him. He himself chose to apply to Shfeyah after he finished the 8th grade. He never regretted it.

Dan lived and studied in this wonderful place for four years. The village helped him discover new qualities, strengths, talents and skills. Boris' music center served him as a warm home and shelter. He began to sing, learned to play guitar and piano, and discovered music as a way of expressing emotions and sharing with others.

The tranquil, beautiful green surroundings helped him find the inner peace he had been lacking. The wonderful educational team and counselors and group living helped him learn to control himself and his reactions, to be independent and to care for his needs and, no less important, to appreciate his home and family.

The fact that he studied in Shfeyah prevented him from getting into trouble and deteriorating, and allowed him to graduate high school with full credentials. Dan received personal attention from the teachers in the school, which was possible because of the small classes and close relationships between students and teachers. The teachers were attentive and sensitive and helped in every way possible.

Dan's decision to move here was the most important and formative decision so far in his life, and has benefitted both him and the family as a whole.

His acclimation through boarding school was not smooth; there were big and small crises. He coped with the support and praise from the educational staff who have accompanied us all with sensitivity and patience during these past four years. Boris, who has always been available, attentive and knowledgeable, was able to set boundaries, provide support and advise Dan. As parents, we always felt that we had someone to turn to. Boris always gave the feeling that our child was under his watchful eye, that he understood the situation and challenges and knew how to deal with them. Dan became an ambassador for Shfeyah. He recruited two of his friends from Beer Sheva who transferred to Shfeyah and benefitted from its outstanding programs, staff and facilities.

I am excited, sad, and happy at the same time that this wonderful chapter of my son's life is ending. Thanks to the wonderful staff of Shfeyah, he is on his way as a more complete and better person. Thank you very much, continue your work. You provide young men and women with the opportunities to grow and enter their adult lives with strength, confidence, skills and kindness.
Thank you.

Read Youth Aliyah Chair Carol Goodman Kaufman's article in Thrive Global about how COVID-19 is impacting at-risk children in Hadassah’s Youth Villages.

Learn more about Hadassah-supported Youth Villages in Israel.

Listen to this inspiring podcast about Israeli youth: The Branch: It Takes a Village.

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