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Swimathon Helps Campers Make a Difference for Inclusion

Swimathon Helps Campers Make a Difference for Inclusion

By: Amanda Leifer
for The Jewish Link

Swim for SINAI, a fundraiser for SINAI Schools, will take place at two locations: at Camp Shalom on Monday, July 13, and at the Chabad Kiddie Camp in Teaneck on Wednesday, July 15. Created at Camp Shalom four years ago by Dvora and Dov Brandstatter, Swim for SINAI has raised thousands of dollars for SINAI. Malka Flamholz has also helped Dvora organize the program.

“Swim for SINAI is a way to educate the children of our community about sensitivity, inclusion and helping others.” Dvora Brandstatter said. “It is a program that gives children the opportunity to make a difference while having a great time. We do it to motivate the kids, and the response so far has been great.”

Campers get sponsors who pledge a certain amount of money per lap they swim. The money raised goes toward financial assistance for the families of children with special needs who rely on SINAI to provide a special education for their children within inclusive Jewish partner schools. Based on the amount of money the campers raise, they can win different prizes. “We encourage the campers to raise money, and get a prize for doing a mitzvah,” Brandstatter said. Even children who cannot swim may participate; younger children can walk laps across a shallow pool. Additionally, donations can be made by relatives of campers across the world by using SINAI’s website.

“Swim for SINAI is a beautiful illustration of how individual people can really make a difference. Here you have friends of SINAI who came to us with an idea of how to raise money for our schools, and then set everything in motion themselves—all to benefit our students. The swimathon not only exposes the campers to the concept that there are things that they can do easily which other children struggle over, but it teaches them that they can do something to help. By participating in Swim for SINAI, even the youngest children are helping to make a difference,” Rabbi Dr. Yisrael Rothwachs, Dean of SINAI Schools said. He oversees all of SINAI’s schools and programs.

“I believe so strongly in what SINAI does. They provide excellent education for children with a range of disabilities. Camp Shalom is extremely excited to be able to host SINAI in our beautiful pools. We look forward to raising money to help an amazing cause,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Gold.

SINAI Schools provide special education within Jewish partner schools throughout New Jersey for children with learning or developmental disabilities whose needs cannot be met in a regular education setting. They serve children with a wide range of disabilities, such as learning disabilities, social and neurological conditions and developmental disabilities. They provide individualized programming, highly specialized services, in-house therapies and a 1:2 teacher-to-student ratio, and place each child in a class that is both socially and academically appropriate. Because of the extremely high cost to SINAI to provide these individualized services, SINAI relies on the community’s recognition and support. “Without SINAI, these children wouldn’t have access to a Jewish education, and their needs would not be met in an inclusive Jewish environment,” Abigail Hepner, Gross Director of Communications at SINAI said.

Please contact SINAI if you plan to participate in the swimathon on your own, or if you are a camp interested in participating in next year’s Swim for SINAI.

Click Here to read this article as it originally appeared in The Jewish Link.