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Every Girl’s Voice

Gila Arnold

Every girl deserves to thrive, insists Rebecca Aminoff. Determined to realize this dream, she set up Kol Hadassa, a unique high school in Beit Shemesh designed so that every girl can learn, grow, and blossom.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

It’s a five-minute walk from Rebecca Aminoff’s home to the local community center that houses Kol Hadassa, the alternative girls’ high school she founded and directs. During our short walk, Rebecca’s cell phone does not stop ringing with urgent phone calls.

“I’m sorry,” Rebecca apologizes, after interrupting our conversation with the third call in a row. “A family crisis came up yesterday with one of our students.”

This petite powerhouse is the address for such crises, as well as the home away from home for her students, who hail from as far away as North America and as close as the local Ramat Beit Shemesh Anglo-immigrant community.

Listening to Rebecca’s passionate descriptions, delivered in a lilting Australian accent, it’s hard not to get caught up in her enthusiasm. “These are my girls, and I want to make things as great as possible for them,” she says. “My dream was to open a school where every girl could thrive.”

It’s been quite a journey, both physical and spiritual, for Rebecca to see her dream fulfilled.

 

Hidden Potential

Kol Hadassa’s name hints at its mission. Hadassa — Rebecca’s mother’s Hebrew name — also denotes the idea of finding the hidden, inner potential. And as soon as you walk through the door of Kol Hadassa, you see it’s not your typical school. Some girls are talking on the couch, others are working at the computer stations in the corner, and still others are gathered around their teacher asking questions.

Learning is hands-on; a history timeline runs around the perimeter of the room, to which the girls add events as they learn about them. Another wall is filled with what looks like random pictures, until the limudei kodesh teacher, Mrs. Shana Wasosky, explains that these are mnemonic cards to help the girls remember the major events in each parshah.

But the wall that Rebecca is proudest of is painted bright pink and covered with messages and drawings from each of the girls. The story behind this wall is also the story of Rebecca’s educational philosophy.

 

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