Kiah’s School for the Deaf (KSD) serves a broad population of deaf children and children hard of hearing from across different sectors. KSD was established by Kiah in 1930 and in the aftermath of the establishment of the State of Israel, KSD became the education ministry’s official school for educating children that are deaf and hard of hearing. In 2018, KSD won Israel’s Ministry of Education Award for Excellence.
KSD is the only school for the deaf and hard of hearing in Jerusalem and is among two of such special schools in the whole of Israel that accommodates both Jewish and Arab children between the ages of 6 and 21. As a result, KSD serves as a unique model of tolerance and coexistence offering hope for tomorrow.
“In our image and in our likeness”
Recognizing these children’s importance and uniqueness, together with the children we mold, develop and support the Jewish and Muslim pupils ’image’ and ‘likeness of God ’ in this school as it states in Genesis 1:26, ‘G-D said, let us make man in our image after our likeness.’
KSD educates 90 Jewish and Arab children from across the spectrum who suffer from mild or severe difficulties of hearing to children that are completely deaf or are severely challenged with learning difficulties. Other children suffer from cognitive deficiency and have various syndromes such as Aspergers or even brain damage. Each pupil is treated in accordance to their personal needs, abilities and potential. The range of pupils’ special needs creates a challenge for KSD’s staff who must continuously come up with creative solutions to effectively address every essential requirement of the children.
The complexity of the needs of the pupils establishes dilemmas and challenges for the staff along with the pupils and parents. We aim to find a balance between on one hand the general needs of KSD so that it can advance the regular school program for all pupils along with their interpersonal communicative skills, and on the other hand care for the various specific individual needs of each pupil in the school.
Our objective is to offer pupils social mobility by integrating pupils as much as possible into Israeli society as equal and empowered citizens who are making a positive contribution to their environment. Our pupils can contribute to society like any hearing or cognitively functional individual. We are persistently working so enable each and every pupil to accomplish their potential that is inherent in them. As a result we transform each and every man and woman into fully independent and capable people that can be an integral part of society with the ability to advance both socially and economically.
Our underlying philosophy that influences all our studies and work programs in KSD emerges from our aim to create a support framework offering a positive future for all pupils in the school. Our diverse programs creates a safe and calm environment, offering enrichment in all areas of the children’s lives by exposing them to various life experiences. Furthermore, we provide pupils with the opportunity to go forth outside of our school and enter the wider world to become equipped with all types of experiential, communicative, academic and professional tools in order for them to not only contend, but to succeed in their endeavors.
To this end, KSD empowers pupils with professional vocational courses they can graduate with that includes: bakery, computers, cosmetics, hairdressing, graphic design, photography, hotel management, and agriculture. Pupils also have the opportunity to do professional certified courses outside of KSD. Today at least 70% of the KSD’s graduates are integrated successfully into the workforce. The various projects that pupils are integrated into empower the pupils in a way that their communicative skills with their surroundings improves dramatically. Graduates are able to integrate with their surroundings and they are transformed into the average person who can contribute to society in any manner.
The pupil’s enrichment to integrate into society continues beyond KSD’s program in their free time in an after day joint program together with Ministry of Welfare. Young guides lead pupils in annual trips throughout Israel to visit various factories and see the world of possibilities and the potential for social mobility that exists for them in Israel. Pupils increase their levels of independence by learning to use various apps such as ‘Moovit’ which is a challenge for a person with disabilities, and gain acquaintance with all of Israel by meeting various deaf communities throughout Israel and beyond.
KSD helps pupils develop their personal abilities at a standard of personal creativity and self-expression and open their eyes to the possibilities that are embedded in our world.
An example of this is two years ago, a girl from the Shoefat Refugee camp named Urud – meaning flower in Arabic graduated from KSD. She was integrated into Musrara College for Photography. Urud has a severe language disorder and cannot read or write in the level of the average person. Yet Urud has enormous talents in the areas of art and photography. Musrara College for Photography accepted her for certification studies. Social security together with the College provide her financial support and Urud has just successfully completed her second year at the Musrara College for Photography.
This year, a boy named Yuval who learned in a regular framework and became hard of hearing has joined KSD as his national service prior to his entry to the army. Yuval is empowered and able to make an enormous contribution to KSD teaching Hebrew to Arab pupils. In turn, pupils are empowered as they view Yuval as a role model as a boy similar to them and hard of hearing can be so active and successful and make a positive impact on the lives of others.
In KSD every student learns their cultural background which enhances their sense of identity, and increases their levels of confidence and communicative skills which are essential for them to become independent and effectively enter the workforce. This results in the Jewish pupils to have a Bar Mitzva and learn the weekly Parsha that is taught by Rav Chanoch Yares. Similarly, the Arab pupils learn about Ramadan and Eid. Together the Jewish and Arab pupils learn about the connection between their faiths.
Three years ago one of the Jewish pupils, Jonathan who has latent cognitive development came to the age of Bar Mitzva. His parents who are ultra-orthodox were told by a Rabbi that he did not need to have a Bar Mitzva. KSD’s management and staff saw the social importance for Jonathan to have a Bar Mitzva, and together with Rav Chanoch Yares hosted a wonderful Bar Mitzva in the Synagogue that is close to KSD. KSD enlisted the support of an entertainer and a band to perform at the Bar Mitzva attended by Jonathan’s family. Jonathan along with his parents were overjoyed and overwhelmed.
We have the ability to open the eyes of pupils who are hard of hearing, deaf, or who have syndromes and cognitive disabilities to their hidden inner treasure which is the potential inherent within each of them. To achieve that they must gain the confidence and professional skills to become independent and enter the workforce, and the mindset to become tolerant and accepting of other cultures and religions. This sense of empowerment not only makes a positive contribution to their lives, but transform the world around them.