Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



A Year of Their Own

Braha Bender

For most kids, graduating from high school marks both an end and a beginning. But what opportunities are there for special-needs high school graduates who also want to have a year in Israel — and a fulfilling life after that? Enter Darkaynu, which is opening up new worlds for special-needs teens through its innovative programs.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

special needs boyIt’s hard to describe the feeling when a teen like Peryl* casually drops the phrase, “I’m a shanah alef girl.” We’re sitting in the small, cozy office of Mrs. Elana Goldscheider, menahelet of Midreshet Darkaynu. Located in Talpiot, in the same building as Midreshet Lindenbaum, Midreshet Darkaynu welcomes 15 special-needs girls between the ages of 18 and 24 every year.

In a classroom down the hall the girls are excitedly chatting about “the lady who will write an article about us in a magazine” and Peryl has just walked in to see what all the commotion is about. Now, while Mrs. Goldscheider goes to check on something outside, Peryl plunks herself down on the menahelet’s large swivel chair behind the desk, grins widely, and tells me about her day.

“I love Darkaynu. People here are really, really nice! I love our teachers. It’s a great place to be.”

Peryl’s guileless charisma glows all over her friendly face. This is the first time that I’m having a real conversation with a special-needs girl, and to my surprise I’m discovering that I’m enjoying it.

I ask Peryl about her job. After morning classes, every Midreshet Darkaynu student spends several hours a day at a volunteer job where she can develop life skills and feel contributive. Peryl bubbles over with enthusiasm about what she does.

“I work in a petting zoo cleaning cages! Today two hamsters almost escaped. Also, I fed a mouse to a snake. Do you know how fast a snake moves when it’s hungry?”

I didn’t.

“I’ve loved animals since I was a little kid. I have a cat at home. He’s named Koby.”

It is sometimes difficult for me to understand her slurred speech. Nonetheless, our common language is the simple truths of human life: Peryl has interests. Peryl has goals, accomplishments, relationships. She is glad to tell me about them, and there is nothing cool, calm, and collected about Peryl when she does so. She doesn’t have the same walls the rest of us do. Her emotions are close to the surface, effervescent. Her smiles are genuine. It’s terrifically refreshing to spend time with someone so inspired.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"