What better way is there to appreciate what we have in our lives today than to learn about the past, when the advantages and benefits we take so for granted did not even exist?
In lessons about the holiday of Thanksgiving, the children in the CAHAL kindergarten class at HANC have come to understand and value the people and everyday things in their lives so much more, and to thank Hashem who has granted them all the goodness that they know.
Through group lessons filled with pictures, stories and artifacts, the children learned about the Pilgrims from England and the Native Americans of 400 years ago. The children compared and contrasted the Pilgrim and Native American homes, clothing, and ways of life; videos on their SmartBoard brought these stories “alive” as they watched how the people of the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts, a living museum today, recreate daily life in the settlements that they built and modeled after the Pilgrim and Wampanoag villages of long ago.
The message behind the Thanksgiving lessons, in addition to their historical and cultural value, were to demonstrate that one group of people gave much needed help to another group who then showed their gratitude in return. Doing chesed and showing hakarat hatov are both essential middot.
Choosing to thank their therapists, who are an integral part of the CAHAL program and help them in their skills development every day, the children got to work. As in the days of old, each child made his or her own clothing (costumes for both Pilgrims and Native Americans to switch off wearing during the feast), and they made pumpkin muffins from scratch. Each child brought a food contribution to the feast and helped to set a beautiful table for the guests. The children learned the important social skills of how to greet and entertain guests as well as escort them when it is time to leave. Later in the day, the class walked around the HANC building giving out pumpkin muffins and thanks to the nurse, custodians, and others who help in the school every day.
CAHAL, the local yeshiva based and sponsored community program for children with learning challenges, now in its 24th year, provides smaller, more individualized classes in the local yeshivas. CAHAL students attend mainstream activities daily. When ready, children attend mainstream academic classes as well, with support from CAHAL to ensure success.
CAHAL is accepting applications for September 2017. For more information contact CAHAL at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 516-295-3666.