Founded in 1979-1980, the Dr. Abraham Shore She'arim Hebrew Day School is the only Jewish school in Canada for children with learning disabilities and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Rabbi Irwin Witty, executive director of the BJE, and Rabbi Joseph Kelman of Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue, played the leading roles in organizing and planning for the school in 1979-1980. The founding of the school was inspired by more than a decade of study by the BJE, the UJWF/TJC, and Jewish Vocational Service (which provided guidance and counseling services in Jewish schools) of the need for greater support and specialized services for Jewish children with learning disabilities. The school was incorporated in 1980 as the She'arim Hebrew Day School, and is governed by a board of directors. Classes began in September 1980, following a year of preparatory work by a planning committee and professional advisory committee.
The school's enrolment in its first year was eight students; this number grew to more than 65 by the year 2000. It was renamed in honour of Dr. Shore in the mid-1990s. She'arim originally accepted students from grades five to seven, and this was quickly expanded to include students in all grades up to grade eight. The school emphasizes the small size of its classes -- usually six to eight students -- which allows teachers to focus on the distinctive needs of each student. The school seeks to provide students with the skills and problem-solving strategies they need to realize their academic potential and transfer into the mainstream schools.
Although Rabbi Witty was very involved with the founding of the school and its operations in its early years, and also maintained files on She'arim administration and financing with his BJE records, She'arim did not become an affiliated school of the BJE until the mid-1980s. She'arim's application for affiliation, in 1984-1985, led to the first of several studies of the school by the BJE. After She'arim was accepted for affiliation and financial support, this initial study was followed by a study of the school's management and operations, in the late 1980s, by the consulting company, ARA Consultants. A BJE committee was then appointed to consider and implement the recommendations of the consultant's report. The main changes to the school involved implementing a structured approach to course planning and evaluation for the school. A further review was carried out in the mid-1990s, to address the school's pressing financial crisis of the time.
Prior to 2001, She'arim was located at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue at 100 Elder Street, Toronto. Following a donation from Sam Hennick, in memory of his late wife, Sara, and with additional financial support from Jewish Toronto Tomorrow, the school moved in September 2001 to a larger space at the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre, named the Dr. Abraham Shore She'arim Hebrew Day School, Sam and Sara Hennick Education Centre.
Scope and Content
The series documents the work of Rabbi Witty and Rabbi Kelman in founding the school, the preliminary work of the planning and professional advisory committees prior to the opening of the school, the work of the She'arim board of governors, and of the various BJE committees which studied the school and its operations. The series consists of committee minutes and reports, correspondence and memoranda concerning the school and its fundraising activities. The files in the series are organized chronologically.