On Sunday, February 14th, the much anticipated Camp SCHI dinner took place in Lake Terrace Hall. With much siyata dishmaya, SCHI has grown along with the community.
Perhaps one of the most extraordinary programs SCHI has established to date is Camp SCHI, a sleep-away camp experience in the mountains. The camp provides parents with a sorely needed respite from the round the clock care they give their special children all year. Parents have tearfully expressed the tremendous difference in their houses over the summer when they can focus their energies and attention upon their other children for a few weeks until they welcome their special children back home again. In Camp SCHI, campers are treated to a magical summer experience just like “regular” children, with boating, trips, sports, concerts and more. One of the goals of the dinner this year was to raise much needed funds for Camp SCHI, so that the children and families of SCHI can continue to benefit from the extraordinary summer experience.
As the dinner reception began, parents, staff members, community askanim, supporters and friends of SCHI kept arriving in droves. Strains of beautiful music greeted attendees as Shloimy Gertner’s melodious voice welcomed them in. Throughout the evening, they would be treated to more spectacular performances by the famous singer, who has his own daughter with special needs, Malka, and thus carries a special place in his heart for SCHI.
The dinner program began with opening remarks by R’ Menashe Frankel, who introduced Rabbi Osher Eisemann, the indefatigable founder and director of SCHI. Rabbi Eisemann spoke about the tremendous growth of SCHI and thanked the staff at SCHI for going above and beyond for their students.
Letters from Senator Cory Booker and Ambassador Ronald Lauder that were written in honor of Ambassador Philip D. Murphy, Man of the Year, were read aloud to the crowd by Mr. Ariel Levy. Ambassador Murphy was then introduced to the crowd by Captain Mark Segal, Executive Director at SCHI, and presented with the Man of the Year Award. Ambassador Murphy addressed the crowd and spoke of his warm feeling towards SCHI. He expressed his admiration and respect for staff and parents of special needs children.
Guests were enthralled as live footage of Camp SCHI, accompanied by stirring lyrics sung by Simcha Leiner, appeared on the video screens. Images of SCHI students engaging in spectacular camp activities, smiling, laughing and singing together with their counselors, left an indelible imprint on the minds and hearts of all attendees. The smiles of the children’s faces were testimony to the love and warmth they are enveloped within SCHI.
The Parents of the Year award was presented to Mr. and Mrs. Yossi Fischer. The Camp SCHI Award was presented to Mr. and Mrs. Duvid Tzvi Lissauer, in memory of Mrs. Lissauer’s mother, a”h. The Guests of Honor were Mr. and Mrs. Yanky Stern. The honorees spoke about how they witnessed SCHI’s growth throughout the years. Rabbi Yehoshua Birnhack, administrator in SCHI, was presented with the Staff Appreciation Award in recognition of his dedication to the students.
As the evening concluded in spontaneous singing and dancing, guests felt a renewed sense of pride in the Lakewood community and the jewel which they are zoche to have in its midst—the special school called SCHI.