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December 21, 1990 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-12-21

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are sensitive to the financial
problems educators face. In-
stead, he and other
educators must seek alter-
native funding from the
community and private do-
nations, Rabbi Goldberg
Still, some educators think
the financial strain might
have been avoided if plann-
ing were better.
"There wasn't enough long-
term planning or support to
do all the work that needs to
be done," Dr. Smiley said.
He would have liked to see
in Detroit a transitional
school for Soviet children
similar to one in Chicago.
Because Chicago has a large
number of Soviet immi-
grants, every child must at-
tend a transitional school for
a year until he has a work-
ing knowledge of English
and Hebrew.
A transitional school
would save individual day
schools and afternoon
schools the cost of hiring
tutors, he said. But Federa-
tion officials believe there
aren't enough Soviet chil-
dren to warrant such a pro-

Now educators are worried
if they don't get the com-
munity support, not only
will the Soviet programs be
eliminated, but other pro-
grams might suffer.
Rabbi Freedman and
Rabbi Shimansky are
cautious about refusing
students. Yet, Rabbi Freed-
man admits yeshiva dollars
can only go so far.
"The yeshiva could not
possibly begin to pay this
without general community
support. We have to de-
pend on miracles to sur-
vive and somehow those
miracles do happen," Rabbi
Freedman said. "There will
be a breaking point unless
we find an angel."
Dr. Smiley calls Rabbis
Freedman and Shimansky
"the unsung heroes of the
acculturation movement."
But he is not willing to
sacrifice Hillel's other pro-
grams for the sake of
educating Soviet children,
he said.
Despite the financial
strain, not one educator is
willing to throw in the towel.
"I think every Jewish
child who wants a Jewish

education ought to be able to
get one," Dr. Eichner said.
So Jewish administrators
and teachers pulled up their
sleeves and got to work on
the business of educating
Soviet children.
"We had to start at the
beginning," said Akiva's
principal, Rabbi Shimansky.
"Most of them don't even
know the fundamental prin-
ciple of Judaism. Their belief
in God is missing."
At Akiva Hebrew Day
School, Soviet students
spend up to three hours a
day in tutoring sessions
learning to read and write in
both Hebrew and English,
Rabbi Shimansky said.
"We provide so much to
get them up to speed," he
said, adding the ultimate
goal is to mainstream Soviet
children into classrooms
with American students.
"We want to give them the
opportunity to make friends
with their peers," Rabbi
Shimansky said. "Otherwise
they would be isolated and
will never become part of the
He estimates that after
one year Soviet students can

be mainstreamed in those
classes conducted in Eng-
lish. But for those classes
where fluent Hebrew is a ne-
cessity, the process takes
longer. He expects that a
fourth grade student will
need two years of tutoring in
Hebrew before he catches up
to his American counter-
"In high school there is no
way that can be accomplish-
ed so there is no main-
streaming on the high school
level except in secular
studies," Rabbi. Shimansky
said. Instead, Soviet high
school students learn about
Judaism in English.
Pnina Levi, who teaches
English to Soviet students at
Beth Jacob, said corn-
munication with her Soviet
students was difficult at first
because she knew no Rus-
sian and they knew little
English. For the first few
months, she relied heavily
on a Soviet girl, who came to
the school more than 10 years
ago, to translate.
But with the help of educa-
tional games on the com-
puter and field trips to
grocery stores, their English

Julie Karesik works on
her Hebrew skills.



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