Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

13 Ellul 5763 - September 10, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Mercaz Harmony Honors Batya Feigenbaum
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Mercaz Harmony is the pioneering educational program which reaches out and includes children with special needs alongside their typical peers. The amazing factor about Mercaz Harmony is the fact that when someone enters their facilities, one can almost be oblivious to the fact that the classes are integrated.

Mercaz Harmony's purpose is simple and unambiguous. Children with special needs might walk differently, talk differently, or learn differently from typical children; but there is no reason for their disabilities to set them apart from other youngsters. Within the framework of inclusion, children with disabilities can strive to higher goals, develop a better self-image, and acquire new skills and interests. Children without special needs learn to accept and relate to those who are different.

Batya Feigenbaum is an outstanding example of why inclusion is so important. That is why Mercaz Harmony decided to honor her at their 18th annual dinner at the Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, on Sunday, September 21, 2003. Batya has surpassed all expectations, except her own. She has set an example for young people everywhere.

Batya was born in 1985 at Hadassah Har HaTzofim, with a spinal cord injury that left her a quadriplegic. After time in ICU and using various alternative therapies, Batya regained use of her upper body but remained a paraplegic. The Feigenbaums moved to Canada when Batya was two -- where she was involved in standard and alternative therapies.

Batya was mainstreamed into the regular Bais Yaakov School of Toronto, and graduated high school this past June. She was active in her school's student council, and was editor of the Grade 12 yearbook. She went to Camp Sternberg during summer vacations, where she participated in canoeing, swimming, white water rafting, and all the regular camp activities. This past summer she was a counselor for seventh graders. She gets around with crutches and braces, has an electric scooter, and drives a car with hand controls. Batya has spoken to various audiences about dealing with adversity, and how to cope with life's challenges. She is presently attending Meor Bais Yaakov Teachers Seminary in Jerusalem, and hopes to pursue a career in the field of Jewish education.

Batya is the daughter of Rabbi Yitzchok and Lana Feigenbaum. Rabbi Yitzchok Feigenbaum is the principal of Tiferes Bais Yaakov High School and was born in Cleveland, Ohio. After many years of study in Yeshivas Mir, Jerusalem, he helped found Yeshivat Darchei Noam/ Shapell College of Jewish Studies -- a yeshiva for university aged young men with little formal Jewish education. In 1987, he and his family moved to Toronto so Batya could receive the medical treatment she needed. He has taught at Yeshivat Or Chaim and Ulpanat Orot High Schools, lectured for Aish HaTorah and Or Somayach, was the Scholar in Residence for NCSY and taught at the Melton Centre for Jewish Studies. In September 2000, he became the Principal of Tiferes Bais Yaakov, a high school for girls. Over the past two decades, he has lectured extensively in schools, synagogues and universities in North America, Israel and the former Soviet Union. He is also the author of "Understanding the Talmud" by Feldheim Publishers.

His wife Lana Feigenbaum, also in the field of education, teaches at Bais Yaakov Elementary School, and is involved in many community projects. They have seven children (four of whom are presently in Israel) and seven grandchildren.

Anyone who wishes to give a donation or place an ad in the Mercaz Harmony Dinner Journal to honor Batya can send their donation to Mercaz Harmony c/o 265 Moore Park Avenue, North York Ontario M2M 1N5. Checks are to be made payable to Press Foundation.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.