For the better part of the 2020-21 school year, Boys Town Jerusalem’s campus has been closed by the pandemic, as students at all levels learn from home via “remote” lessons. With one exception: BTJ’s Special Education students are the only pupils continuing to come to school, giving a remarkable boost to the lives of these very special boys.

“By Ministry of Education orders, our Special Education classes – grades 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 – returned to the otherwise empty campus several months ago,” explains eighth grade teacher Rabbi Yossi Ben Zruel.

“These students suffer from emotional disorders to serious learning disabilities. To aggravate the pain, many families’ corona-caused financial crises have had a devastating effect on their sons. More than ever, Boys Town is a crucial oasis of love and support for these young boys.”

Alone on campus, the Special Ed students found themselves without such perks as the transportation and meals that the school generally provides. “In time, they’ve become far more independent,” Ben Zruel notes proudly.

The main instructors, as well as Math, English, Hebrew Language teachers, music and art therapists, now come to the campus solely to teach the “special” students. “We are all focused on the goal of strengthening these boys and giving them security in an era of uncertainty and anxiety.”

Eighth-grader David,* like many of his 13 Special Ed classmates, faces a harsh family situation. “David’s parents offer almost no communication or support to their children, which for him is particularly crippling. Bringing him back to school has brought David back to life. Here he is thriving with his classmates and with the extra one-on-one sessions and therapies we provide. Boys Town Jerusalem is both mother and father to David and so many others.”

The fact that Special Education classes continue, despite the pervading coronavirus chaos, has provided students with new confidence, Rabbi Ben Zruel stresses. “They are gaining independence, inner strength and hope.”

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