This year, our oldest son, Kasriel, has been in Israel for his gap year. In our community (we live in Riverdale), this would be unremarkable as most of our friends’ children have spent their gap year in Israel. For Kasriel, however, this year in Israel was never supposed to happen – or so we thought. Kasriel has attended a secular special education school in Manhattan since he was 9 years old when his dyslexia and ASD compelled us to take him out of Jewish day school and place him in the wonderful school he attended through 12th grade. Even as we began to see that, thank God, college was going to be part of his future, we assumed that Jewish educational experiences would continue to be closed to him. And then two determined parents and an exceptional Nativ staff created Yozma.
In the course of this year Kasriel has spent a semester sitting in yeshiva learning Torah including a full morning of Talmud, he has traveled alone to the Hula Valley to see the migratory birds, he has gone to Poland, he has worked cheerfully and diligently to help prepare food for hundreds and he has made wonderful friends. As parents who have been involved in higher Jewish education for years, the semester in yeshiva has been particularly meaningful.
As Kasriel begins to look towards beginning college at Lesley University, we know that he will thrive – making new friends, taking care of himself and dedicating himself to his studies. How do I communicate the gratitude I feel? I really cannot; this year on Nativ will carry Kasriel throughout his life.