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Written by Judy Horowitz, grandmother of a Matan student

Sam is almost eleven years old, and he is my only Jewish grandson. He’s also an amazing kid working his way through the challenges and discoveries of being on the autism spectrum.

From the time he could understand, his loving parents have taught him what it means to be Jewish.  I can remember the first time I heard him recite the Shema at bedtime. He knows God is watching over him as he sleeps.   He learned all the Shabbat blessings by watching and listening on Friday night.  It brings tears to my eyes to hear him sing the blessings for the candles.  He and his mom, Teresa, called one Friday night about 5 years ago to sing Shabbat Shalom to me.  You should hear the big ending.  So precious!  It is still on my answering machine, and I’ll never erase it.

He is the star of our Hanukah dinners. This year, through watching on video and following along via an amazing arts and crafts project from Matan, Sam was able to conquer and sing all three prayers. Of course, he was so proud, he insisted on doing all three prayers every night of the Hanukah celebration.

I look forward to watching him become a Bar Mitzvah.  I will sit there filled with pride and happiness at his accomplishments.  His grandfather and great grandparents would have thought he was the most special child.  In my eyes he is the best!

I am so grateful to Matan and his incredible teacher, Mora Meredith and all her caring staff.  Sam, who doesn’t always want to leaves his cars and trains, is always ready to go to Sunday School (luckily they have a few trains there as well).  Each week, over the last four years, they have slowly  taught him the Hebrew alphabet, all about our wonderful holidays, Hebrew prayers and songs.  They made it fun as they built a foundation of Jewish knowledge and experiences.

I feel very blessed.  Thank you to Sam’s amazing parents and all the people who, over the years, have worked with Sam and helped him develop to his fullest potential.  He is a lucky little boy.  I love him very much!

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