Eighteenth Annual Chush Breakfast Today to be Hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Werdiger


flatbush1After eighteen years, the annual breakfast on behalf of Chush at the home of Shlomo and Esther Werdiger has become something of a Flatbush tradition. It’s known throughout the neighborhood as the event of the summer. But this year is truly special, because eighteen years represents a milestone. It symbolizes the long and productive friendship between the Werdiger family and Chush which has lasted for almost two decades and has helped bring joy and hatzlacha to the children of this very special mosad.  

The Eighteenth Annual Breakfast to benefit Chush  will be held this morning at the home of the  Werdigers, located at 1076 East 23 Street, between Avenues J and K in Flatbush. The guest speaker will be Rabbi Moshe Bergman, morah d’asra of Kahal Bnai Avrohom Yaakov in Flatbush.

Located in Williamsburg, Chush is a school for children who have difficulty learning in a traditional school environment. At a time when special education programs were not yet fashionable, Chush opened its doors to children who had nowhere else to turn. Otherwise known as the Center for Special Education, Chush has been at the forefront of the movement to provide quality Jewish education to special needs children for almost thirty years. Chush accepts students with a variety of issues, including those with learning disabilities and social and behavioral problems. Educating students in its boys and girls divisions from the ages of 6 to 18, Chush teachers, rabbeim, therapists and psychologists form a multi-disciplinary team that provides individualized instruction in limudei kodesh and limudei chol. The hallmark of the Chush approach to learning is the warmth, care and dedication of its outstanding staff.

The students learning at Chush range from those who need minimal assistance until they are mainstreamed to those who benefit throughout their childhood from Chush’s outstanding individualized assistance. According to Mrs. Shoshana Hasenfeld, social worker at Chush, “Our goal is to offer a quality education with complete therapeutic services to these special children. Our job is to focus on the particular strengths of every child in order to overcome their individual weaknesses.”

After thirty years, you would think our community would be well aware of the wonderful work of Chush.  Instead, Rabbi Naftulie Weiss, the school’s executive director, says that people still don’t understand what Chush really is. 

“For starters,” he says, “we were the pioneers. We were the first ones to bring the concept of special education to our community.” 

At a time when most of the community was in denial, and even educators felt that certain children simply couldn’t learn, the founders of Chush understood that this simply isn’t true. As long as you provide a child with the proper learning environment, every child could thrive.

Rabbi Weiss also points out that most of the students at Chush are regular children, bright and personable, and eager to learn. Some are overcoming slight learning delays while others are dealing with more intense difficulties. The expert staff members at Chush work wonders with children at both ends of the spectrum.

Mrs. Hasenfeld shares the story of Avi, a youngster who was struggling with not only learning difficulties but also a very stressful family situation. Before coming to Chush, Avi bounced around from one yeshiva to another. As time went on, he was failing not only academically, but socially as well. Avi had become a hostile and difficult teenager. 


Somehow, Avi made his way to Chush, and it’s a good thing he did. Upon evaluating him, the teachers and therapists recognized that underneath that cold and angry exterior, there lived a good kid who was dealing with some really difficult issues. “We gave him lots of therapy,” Mrs. Hasenfeld remembers. “But more important, we taught him to believe in himself.”

That was about eight years ago. Where is Avi today? “Believe it or not,” says Mrs. Hasenfeld, “he is learning in a top-notch mainstream kollel and he just invited us to the bris of his second child. Looking at him today, you would never know that this was the same desperately unhappy Avi who we met just a few years ago.”

Then there’s the story of Racheyli. Racheyli’s family is loving and caring, and wholly supportive. Yet, despite all this, she has some major learning issues. The staff at Chush is working with her, building up her strengths and fortifying her weaknesses. She has made tremendous progress in her schoolwork and now that she’s eighteen, Racheyli is ready to ‘graduate’ from Chush. But the staff wouldn’t let her go until they found her a secure and respectable job as a teacher’s assistant in a local Bais Yaakov. Now Racheyli, like so many other graduates her age, is entering the ‘real world’ feeling confident and self assured.

Rabbi Weiss points out that Chush has been successful with those who are experiencing mild learning issues. In fact, the school recently opened a new branch in the Flatbush area, catering to young girls 6-8 years of age, who need a little extra help before they enter the mainstream school system. “We call it our ‘Bridge Program,'” says Mrs. Hasenfeld. “It’s located in a mainstream yeshiva where we also offer parent counseling services.  It’s a beautiful program and it’s already grown to two classes.” 

But while the teachers and therapists at Chush are busy doing what they do best, Rabbi Weiss is actively working on raising funds for the school, which he says receives no government funding. “Our only income,” he says, “is Acheinu Bnei Yisroel.”

“We never had it so tough,” Rabbi Weiss observes. 

Which is why, now more than ever, the community is urged to join the Werdigers on Sunday morning in their home to help support this special mosad.  

“Mr. And Mrs. Werdiger have opened their hearts and their home to these children,” says Rabbi Weiss, “because they understand that these kids deserve a chance to have a real Jewish education.” And they made a commitment to ensure that these kids are given the chance they deserve.

{Elisha Ferber-Matzav.com Newscenter}