Kindred Spirits

The Robert Saligman Middle School in Elkins Part, part of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Jewish Day School system, and the Robert Saligman Early Childhood Development Center in Sedot Negev, Israel, share more than just a name and a benefactor.

Both have received major funding from the Robert Saligman Charitable Foundation. The late Robert Saligman was a local community leader and philanthropist.

"For the last two years, our eighth-graders have visited the Saligman Early Childhood Development Center, and have been entertained by their young hosts and enjoyed their interactions with the Israeli kids in breakout sessions," said Jay Leberman, head of school for the Perelman Jewish Day School. "What our students have also been able to see and come to understand through their visits is the example of the Saligman's generosity and its impact on the Jewish world in Elkins Park and in Israel."

Leberman also pointed out that Alice Saligman, who heads the foundation board, and her son Ira and daughter Carolyn stay connected to the school, speaking at graduations and helping to hand out diplomas.

The Robert Saligman Early Childhood Development Center in the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's Partnership 2000 communities provides services to children with special needs. In addition to the Saligman's cornerstone grant, Federation's Center for Israel and Overseas provides funding to the early-childhood development center.

The Robert Saligman Middle School is for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, and offers a combined education of Jewish and academic studies in a dual-language curriculum. The school also receives funding from the Jewish Life and Learning Center of Federation.

And while there are differences in the students' ages, languages and skills, according to Arlene Danon, Saligman Middle School's director of Jewish studies, the middle-school students have "no discomfort or shyness about being with kids who have disabilities. They have an awareness and respect for others from learning about Jewish life and law."

"It was a meaningful experience for everyone," she said. "There was so much warmth in the Israeli's hospitality, and this year's eighth-graders are looking forward to their visit in May."

For more information about the Saligman Middle School, call 215-635-3303. To learn about the Saligman Early Childhood Development Center, call 215-832-5553.



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