Unique Inspirations at SINAI@YCQ Art Show

By: Shabsie Saphirstein
Queens Jewish Link

On a Wednesday evening in June, I experienced the world quite differently, as I joined SINAI@YCQ students at their art show and saw life through their very own eyes. Each and every masterpiece showcased their unique individuality and intellect at the exhibit detailing the students’ very own handmade creations. I had previously written on SINAI’s cutting-edge special education work locally; however, this was my first opportunity to see the fruits of their labor.

Displaying the students’ art work are, from left, Rabbi Yisrael Rothwachs, Leo Brandstatter z”l Dean; Leora Hecht, SINAI@YCQ associate director; Gittie Rothschild, SINAI@YCQ director; and Tzipora Silberman, SINAI art therapist.

Unique Inspirations, the school’s annual display of student creations, uses art therapy to allow for each personality to shine and for the students to proudly show off their hard work. “Art therapy is an amazing tool to help children understand, express, and cope with the challenges they encounter while finding new ways to make life more bearable,” expressed Tzipora Silberman, SINAI@YCQ’s art therapist, who worked with each student on their depictions. “The children used a variety of materials and mediums to produce the inspiring artwork, and I gave them necessary encouragement and guidance. Ultimately, each child emerged as the shining star of the program.”

At the art show, from left, are Rabbi Yisrael Rothwachs, Leo Brandstatter z”l Dean, SINAI Schools; Joseph Sprung, Bear Givers founder and chairman; Kristen DiChiaro, Bear Givers chief marketing officer; and Diane Sprung, Bear Givers executive director.

As I scanned the exhibition, I found unique expressions jumping off each canvas. I found the pieces to communicate the feelings of the youngsters, as they visualized various concepts, depicting the beauty and essence of art therapy. Moreover, each pallet empowered the artist to truly be himself or herself. Such is the work of SINAI Schools, where alternative means are sought for the young students to express themselves. One student used stickers to convey his thoughts, while another was offered bubble wrap and blue paint to create clouds, and yet another chose cotton balls to create a similar effect on his pallet. Some drew their homes, while others chose their favorite sports. There were a number of vibrant rainbows, and a beach depiction, lots of flowers, abstracts, and even a Magen David incorporated into a floral design to show some Jewish pride. The gift box bows, mixed with colorful Styrofoam bits and more, was a truly creative feature. All in all, the weeks spent in preparation for the exhibit paid off handsomely with smiles, love, and some great donations.

Here and below, families of SINAI@YCQ art therapy students proudly display their child’s artwork.

This year, the Kew Gardens Hills home of Sruli and Shandi Glaser was graciously offered to host the children, parents, and friends of SINAI Schools for what was a warm, wonderful family-friendly event that included a delicious buffet. I was gratified to see the children having a positive and empowering experience, feeling validation, confidence, and pride. Often, children with special needs are on the opposite end – receiving; this program is designed for them to be benefactors and experience joy being fully immersed in society. The altruism of some can exponentially affect the lives of many. The art show is a stellar example of SINAI creating an environment where children are empowered to bring happiness to others. Each canvas is a trifecta of empowering, educating, and promoting generosity.

The art show is a development of the EmpowerArt initiative created by Bear Givers, a New-York-based organization led by founder and chairman Joseph Sprung and executive director Diane Lempert, which provides providing children in need with opportunities to feel the pride and joy of engaging in acts of kindness and generosity. The specific program gives youth with special needs, or those who are hospitalized, an opportunity to express their creativity and display their artwork in a professional gallery setting, benefiting their host institution. The gallery featured student artwork from the Irving Montak SINAI School@SAR Academy, and SINAI@YCQ campuses, created through SINAI’s Paley-Mironov Art Therapy Program, made possible through the philanthropic efforts of Steven and Laura Paley, and Michael Mironov. Visit www.sinaischools.org/artshow, or email citshakov@sinaischools.org  to order artwork and to support SINAI in their mission to serve the community’s children with special education needs.



A message from the leadership at SINAI Schools:

Everyone at SINAI Schools has been davening for the refuah shleimah of Shabsie Saphirstein, and we are so grateful to Hashem for the recovery he has already made.  We are blown away that, having joined us at our art show on June 7 and meeting our students, Shabsie insisted on writing this story from his hospital bed.  It is truly a testament to his determination and dedication to helping SINAI’s children.

To view this article as it originally appeared in the Queens Jewish Link, click here.