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November 30, 2006 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-11-30

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Retirement party: Susie Citrin, Anita

Naftaly and Jim Safran, original chair

of the Special Education Committee


t all starts with an idea.
In 1984, fresh from Oakland
University with a graduate degree in
learning disabilities, Anita Katz Millman,
a local girl and member of Congregation
Shaarey Zedek, was approached by Rabbi
Irwin Groner to start a program to help
children with learning disabilities get the
most out of Hebrew school.
For the next 10 years, she worked a suc-
cessful program that helped a handful of
kids make it through b'nai mitzvah and
Her success was noticed by the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and led
to the "Opening the Doors" program that

They started small the first year, she
said — a couple hundred learning-dis-
abled children at nine congregational and
day schools.
Naftaly recruited special education
teachers herself.
In 1997, the program grew to 17 sch 0 . 0ls
and 581 students. Now 22 schools and 18
special ed teachers are involved in helping
762 students.
Program Begins
"'Opening the Doors' is opening the
When the Federation and its then-Agency
of opportunity to have children
for Jewish Education started a task force in
an appropriate Jewish education,"
1993 to determine needs for the commu-
said. "If kids are receiving special-
nity, they found a void existed in Jewish
in the secular school, we
schools in special education.
supportin the congre-
In 1995, the Alliance approached Naftaly
are our goal,
with an offer: create a pilot program for
the whole community based on her pro-
gram at Shaarey Zedek.

helps more than 750 learning-disabled
children a year receive a quality Jewish
education in Detroit.
After more than 20 years, Anita Katz
Naftaly retires as associate director of spe-
cial education for Federation's Alliance for
Jewish Education (AJE) on Dec. 1, but her
impact will be felt for generations to come.

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