Grapevine: Enhanced Learning

Pro. Reuven Feuerstein helped create a method for children with learning disabilities to increase their aptitude for learning

(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Not so long ago, children with learning disabilities could not be properly diagnosed, and therefore could not be helped. Along came Prof. Reuven Feuerstein, a clinical development and cognitive psychologist, whose theory of intelligence says that nothing in the brain is fixed and that everything can be modified.
On the basis of this belief, he developed a method that enables people of any age, regardless of their disability, to enhance their intelligence and their aptitude for learning. To help adults and children to improve their thinking, learning and analytical skills, he developed a unique method that has helped thousands of people, and continues to do so four years after his death. 
The Feuerstein Clinic at 17 Diskin Street, Jerusalem, which is now headed by his son Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, will on Tuesday, October 16 host its annual research conference on mediated learning, which will include reports on projects that the institute runs throughout the country – among them, new research into treatment of autism, as well as the work that the Institute is doing in east Jerusalem with the Jerusalem municipality.
One of the afternoon sessions will be devoted to diagnosing different kinds of learning disabilities among Arab children and the treatments they are receiving to help them circumvent their problems and develop their intelligence and learning skills.
In Israel's religious Jewish community, the story of the Sans-Klausenberger Rebbe, the late Rabbi Yekusiel Yehuda Halberstam is well known. Other than residents of Netanya, most secularists are unaware of his inspiring story. 
A charismatic genius, Halberstam was one of the youngest rebbes in Europe prior to the Second World War. He lived in Klausenberg, Romania, and had thousands of followers. Then came the Nazi invasion. Halberstam was arrested and sent from one concentration camp to another, including Dachau and Auschwitz. Ironically, he could have saved himself and his family. His leadership and scholarship were of such high repute in the Orthodox Jewish world that in 1937 he was offered a seat on the Jerusalem Rabbinical Council. His mother advised him not to accept it and to stay put in Romania. 
Despite all the tribulations to which he was subjected under the Nazis, he survived. His wife, 11 children and most of his followers were murdered. Most people would have been broken in spirit after suffering such a horrific trauma, but Halberstam believed that he had a mission to rebuild Jewish observance and community life. He did this initially in displaced persons camps in Europe, then in the United States and finally in Israel.
He remarried in August 1947. Chaya Nechama Ungar was an orphan and the daughter of the famed Nitre Rebbe Shmuel Dovid Ungar, who, though he had managed to evade the Nazis during the war, died of starvation in February 1945, three months before the war’s end.
The match was made by the bride’s brother-in-law Rabbi Michael Ber Weismandel, who had moved to New Jersey after the war.
Halberstam and his new wife were blessed with a large family – five daughters and two sons. In addition, he re-established his community, beginning in 1958 with the founding of Kiryat Sanz in Netanya, after which he permanently moved to Israel in 1960. He is best known for having established the Laniado Hospital, which is run in strict accordance with Jewish law but does not restrict itself to Jewish patients. 
Hidden Face, a film on Halberstam’s life and achievements, will be shown at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on October 18 and 22. The screening of the film, which is in Hebrew with English subtitles, will be followed by a discussion with journalist Yedidya Meier and the film’s producer Eyal Datz.
If anyone sees a group of women marching from Safra Square this coming Sunday, October 14, make no mistake, the marchers have nothing to do with the upcoming municipal elections or Women at the Wall. They are part of the Hadassah “From Dream to Innovation” mission, on the last day of their week-long stay. 
They will be marching to the old Hadassah College the site of which contained the first hospital built outside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. The mission, in celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary year, visited ancient and contemporary historical sites, and prior to the march will visit the biblical city of Shiloh and meet with Daniella Weiss, the former dynamic mayor of Kedumim who served two terms in office.
Social equality Minister Gila Gamliel, in conjunction with the Yesha Council and the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, launched a new initiative on Monday of this week to document the lives and legacies of pioneers of Israel’s settler movement. The launch ceremony was held at the Begin Center. 
The ministry has allocated NIS 1.5 million for the project and the target is to document the stories of 100 pioneers in the first year of operation. Any pioneers still living will be videotaped so that future generations can hear the story of history unfolding from the mouths of those who made it.