YBS Mission Statement
Yeshiva Bnei Simcha V’Achvah
Yeshiva Bnei Simcha is the first program ever for adult Jewish men ages 17 to 28 with moderate learning and Developmental Disabilities as well as specializing with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Asperger's and PDD), who would like to fit into a mainstream yeshiva.
We utilize the healing & transformational power of Torah learned with joy & enthusiasm and empowers the “special needs" individual to:
RECOVER from a life of frustration and criticism by connecting the Jewish Soul to its heritage – in an unconditionally accepting and competition-free environment.
REDIRECT each individual to go beyond limitations, which formerly determined his life.
REFRESH the life force within each student, so that he can see himself as a "miracle in progress."
At Yeshiva Bnei Simcha, the first English-speaking, adult special needs yeshiva in the world, we believe in our students and…they believe in themselves! They believe that they can:
· Enthusiastically debate the finer points of Jewish Law and philosophy with their rabbis and classmates.
· Celebrate Sabbath and Jewish holidays with real meaning and joy, in lively, “heimish” Jewish homes.
· Gain the life skills that will enable them to be independent.
Fulfill their dreams and be part of a miracle.
In-group learning, Bnei Simcha students learn to understand and also challenge other students’ worldviews. In one-on-one learning, they see themselves through the eyes and ears of their private teacher. Through absolute love and acceptance, the Torah creates the space within for the miraculous to occur.
Bnei Simcha is geared to students with moderate learning and Developmental Disabilities as well as specializing with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Asperger's and PDD) who would like to fit into a mainstream yeshiva and those who seek a more holistic approach to Torah learning and living. The partnership between these types of students, assisting each other, helps each one to bring their tikun, spiritual healing, into the world.
Aside from Jewish Education, Bnei Simcha teaches “life skills” -- public speaking, interpersonal skills, conducting services, lead a special needs club house, computer training, working in a job, learning in a mainstream Yeshivah, college courses, money management and preparation for family life and independent living. We encourage our students to volunteer in the community, doing acts of chesed, as giving to others teaches us selflessness.
We provide a variety of therapeutic services to help build healthy emotions; reflexology, massage, energy healing, chiropractic, group therapy, digital (video) storytelling, dance and art therapy.
We believe that in order to develop spiritually, one must have a healthy body. Our program includes daily exercise, jogging, swimming, bike-riding and nature hikes. We provide nutritional and tasty food in all our meals.
Wake-up -- 7:00 AM
Morning Routine – Bathroom - Hygiene
Brush teeth – Shower
Morning Prayer –Shacharit 7:45 AM
Straighten Room – Make bed, sweep, laundry, etc.
Class Schedule – 9:20 AM
Learning about Chesed
Learning about Amen
Lunch – 12:45 PM– (including preparation and cleanup)
Rap Session — 1:05 to 1:35 PM
Break — 1:35 PM to 2:00 PM
Afternoon Classes & Activities 2:00 – 6:00 PM
Chasidic Thought & Story telling
Dinner – 6:00 PM (including preparation and cleanup)
Marriv – 7:00 to 7:30 PM
Night Program - 7:30 to 10:30 PM
Exercise Night - Weight training/Sports
Movie Night Out
Tuesday Night Live
Arts and Crafts
Field trips – Dining Out
Chesed Programs in Community (helping those in need)
8:00 AM – Wakeup – Hygiene Routines
8:00 to 8:30 AM – Morning Prayer
8:30 AM – Breakfast
9:30 – 12:00 PM – Chesed Program
Laundry & Clothing Care
Preparing Dorm for Shabbat: Lights, Clocks, Stovetop, Crock-pot,
Hot water for drinking, bathroom prep
Preparing spiritually to receive the Shabbat: Meditation skills
With Yeshiva or local families, depending on established schedule
Informal learning during Kiddush
Discussions, Walks, Shabbat Learning, ‘Oneg Shabbat’
Melave Malka – Food, dancing, refreshments, Jewish entertainment, concerts
At home, in community, or in Jerusalem
Appropriate Movies & DVD’s
Yom Tov Programs according to season and the needs of the studEnts
Curriculum and Class Descriptions
The study of Mishna reveals the origins of the Oral Law, as passed down by our Sages. Each law is read, translated and analyzed according to the student's comprehension and analytical skills. He is asked to repeat what he has just learned, ‘teaching’ his teacher in return. If a student has difficulty focusing or comprehending, we use alternative teaching methods, such as pictures, concrete examples, and dramatization of the laws in question.
Halacha: is the practical application of the oral and written laws of the Torah. The student is guided to learn the laws he is ready to fulfill now, according to his capacity and desire. Without pressure, he is introduced to the reasons and understandings behind the practices of our sages, and why we wish to fulfill them ourselves.
The weekly portion or Parsha class, is designed to focus the student on a message found in the Torah, and its relevance for us today. Jewish role models are clarified as positive examples of how a person should conduct himself in this world
Gemara: learning engages the student in the excitement of the ‘war of the oral Torah,’ the recitation and development of the Sages’ arguments, back and forth, as found in the Talmud. Each class is geared to the student's grasp of basic concepts.
Character Building: the essence of Jewish ethics, focuses on developing maturity through flexibility, adaptability to real life situations, empowering the student with choices, so that he can choose the way he wishes to act in life, and not just react to things as they occur. Classes focus on a particular character trait or mitzvah- applying it to ones life in all aspects.
Hebrew Language: Reading, Writing, Vocabulary and Grammar are designed to build the student's self esteem through mastering the ancient Hebrew language, letter-by-letter, word-by-word. Our emphasis is on getting the student to use modern as well as Biblical Hebrew throughout his day, opening his eyes to the infinite world of nuances hidden in the Hebrew aleph-bet. Number systems, letter roots, multiple meanings, even mystical allusions, are all available to each student, according to his level.
Chassidic Story-Telling: brings Jewish history to life. The student is always encouraged to read, or is read to, depending on his desire. The stories of our ancestors serve as living proof of the possibility of building an intimate relationship with our loving Creator. Our Mashgiach Ruchani, Reb Chaim of Yerushalayim, is a renowned Chassidic storyteller, who will keep students spellbound with his unique tales during Shabbatonim and at other special times.
Brain Train: software, bio-feedback, as well as other cutting edge educational systems will be used where applicable, to engage the student in alternative learning strategies, always keeping the learning experience fresh and alive.
Health & Exercise: programs are provided to encourage to the student towards independence in caring for his health and fitness. Jogging, cycling, swimming, walking, hiking, weight training, karate and other sports, are an integral part of every Bnei Simcha students daily schedule.
Extra-Curricular Activities: include instruction in: gardening, cooking, personal financial skills, computers, art and music.
Bnei Simcha offers select special needs students, living in Israel, the opportunity to join our "non-residential program." We tailor a schedule for each student, for the morning, afternoon, or both, always providing a nutritious lunch. As well as the academic courses taught by our trained Rabbis and teachers, we offer psychological services and health and body training.
Student Training Program
We offer mainstream students, seeking to gain experience in Special Education, the opportunity to teach and interact with Bnei Simcha special needs students. These "interns" will be learning Torah in the sanctity of a yeshiva environment, while mastering the skills necessary to enter the challenging and rewarding field of Adult Special Education. In addition to their own learning schedule, these students will receive personal training from Rav Meir Zev Weiner, Director of Therapeutic Services.
Chesed (Loving Kindness) Program
Giving to others teaches us selflessness. Many special needs students have never had the chance to give to others. At Bnei Simcha, all of our students participate in our Chesed Program: volunteer for local Social Service organizations, helping out individual families, visiting the sick at home or in the hospital.
Family Education Program
Parents coming to visit their sons can participate in our unique Family Education Program. You can enjoy ten inspiring days with your son in his new environment: attending classes given by leading Rabbis on a variety of subjects, taking tours around Israel, and spending a weekend Shabbaton to round out an uplifting trip to Israel. A special needs seminar, teaching families tools and skills to enhance their relationships with their children, will be part of every trip.
(C) Yeshiva Bnei Simcha 2010
Ephraim Rosensweig, Benny Wachspress, and Ephraim Sherr
Founding Parent Devorah (Lisa) Crane; Avi’s mother
"Yeshiva Bnei Simcha for men with Aspergers Spectrum Disorders
and Learning Disabilities."