Updated: Mar 8
Netanel Goldstein’s dream was to make Aliyah and work in the field of Special Education. After making Aliyah with wife Sarah and three young children this past September, Goldstein’s dual dream seems close to realization. In January of 2020 he will be opening enrollment into his new program which he is calling “Meromim,” elevating.
Hailing from Chicago, Goldstein resided in Teaneck before his recent Aliyah. After completing a Masters Degree at Hunter College in Adolescent Special Education, he taught in the Rabbi Mark and Linda Karasick Shalem High School at Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC) for 5 years. His experience also includes 5 years as the director of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun’s Hebrew school in Manhattan and 3 years as a division head at Camp HASC.
Goldstein currently resides in Mishkafayim, a community of approximately 100 families within the Beit Shemesh area. In Moshav Luzit, located between Beit Shemesh and Kiryat Gat, a modern building surrounded by open fields awaits its first contingent of Meromim students. Funded by Adam and Chani Rosenberg of Ramat Beit Shemesh (previously Los Angeles), the specifically- designed site will house teenage boys, ages 13 to 17, who display Level 1 Autism, and for whom no appropriate Jewish setting exists in Israel or the US. Of the programs that currently exist in Utah, Massachusetts, Oregon, and others, none can provide the orthodox Jewish lifestyle that these young men are accustomed to from their homes.
As described by Director Goldstein,” Meromim Israel is a small, residential therapeutic center for Jewish teenage boys with high- functioning Autism. The Meromim program will help them learn to succeed by providing a warm, nurturing environment 24/7. The program will combine individualized academic and therapeutic programs, recreation, and a nurturing residential environment to provide specialized therapy for students. Plans for the future include gardening, small animal care, equine-assisted therapy and canine therapy in the expansive rustic surroundings. Shabbat and Chagim will be observed to the highest standards assuring the boys a warm and familiar living environment.”
With the goal of an opening enrollment of 10 boys, Goldstein is determined to launch his program with even fewer students. He has lined up professional therapists, teachers, coaches, residential directors and counselors ready to come aboard in January.
Meromim will offer its students up to 4 years of instruction but will accomodate students for a portion of that time if indicated. Currently no scholarships are available to help defray the $8,000 monthly tuition which is considerably less than the $12,000 monthly cost of the US programs.
Hopefully, as the program proves successful in its mission, students will be eligible for scholarships and subsidies.
“Our ultimate goal is to give our students the tools they need to become valued members of their communities, to provide them with hands-on learning experiences and direct them to the skills specific to them that can help them achieve fully functioning lives within society.”
This article appeared in The Jewish Link of New Jersey on December 12th