Home   עברית
I would like to receive updates from Nitzan association
facebook nitzan page link
> About Nitzan > The Founding of Nitzan

The Founding of Nitzan

by Mira Fein, a founding member of Nitzan

In 1966, a group came together at the initiative of Dr. Drein, a child neurologist and psychiatrist, with the purpose of setting up an educational setting that would be appropriate for children who until then had been referred to special education settings that weren't appropriate for them. These children had average IQ and had an external appearance that looked the same as their peers; nevertheless, they suffered from specific disabilities that affected their learning, speech, playing, and behavior. This distinguished them from other children of their age and made necessary setting up a special program or school that would be appropriate for their abilities and special difficulties and would allow them to develop their skills, each one according to his problems and ability to advance.

Even before the establishment of the Metzada School in north Tel Aviv in 1967, a special education school for students with learning disabilities, three classes were set up with the initiative of these parents and at their head Moshe Drori z"l. These classes were directed by Mrs. Bracha Folk, in a residential building on Nes-Tziona street in Tel-Aviv. Afterwards, the Metzada School was established in an old Arab building in the Jamosin neighborhood in north Tel-Aviv.

Moshe Drori z"l is the one that recommended turning to the Tel-Aviv municipality with a request to include the school as part of the local education department, while the hopeless parents thought to set up a private school on their own.

Rabbi Frankel, the head rabbi of Tel-Aviv at that time, helped the parents in making connections in the municipality. The "Malben" association was the first that reached out and gave Nitzan a hand. Malben gave Nitzan a room, a secretary, and a social worker on a part-time basis. It's important to note that Nitzan's social worker was summoned on a regular basis to take part in committee meetings (which today are placement committees, va'adat hasama), which decided who would be referred to the special education school for learning disabilities.

As a result of the Metzada School, another school, "Neve Shanan", was set up in Yafo and only afterwards in 1974 special classes within regular schools were established.

The Fundraising Campaign for Children with Special Needs that was conducted during the first years of Israeli Television gave a big push and the money that was collected allowed Nitzan to broaden its activities and open additional branches.

Until then, the Tel-Aviv branch was the first branch that was set up and provided services to children from all over the country and even took responsibility to arrange transportation for children to the schools. Similarly they focused on a variety of enrichment activities in the afternoon hours where the flagship program was "Project Wingate", which included transporting children to the physical education college at the Wingate Center and doing movement work with the direction of the college students of the special education program.

The training and evaluation center was established later with the wonderful enterprise of Rivka Kadron z"l. This was the largest and most modern professional center in the field of evaluation and treatment of children with learning disabilities and it raised the awareness of the topic amongst educators and the general public. The first branches that were established after the Tel-Aviv branch were in Jerusalem and Haifa and afterwards in Rechovot, Hadera, HaSharon, Ramat Gan, and more and more.

Nitzan's Evaluation and Treatment Center in Cooperation with the Ministry of Education (1982-2003)

The National Center for Learning Disabilities was established with the initiative of Rivka Kadron z"l at the beginning of the 1980s. Rivka, who worked as a counselor and supervisor in the field of learning disabilities, thought that preventative treatment that comes as a result of identifying the disability and its properties is the first condition for advancing the child who is having difficulties.

In order to improve and advance the work in this field she worked together in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, the Branch of Special Education headed by Professor Zacks z"l, and Nitzan. Together they set up the center. After the passing of Professor Zacks, the connection with the ministry continued and they received the help of Ezra Micael who supported and aided for many years.

Rivka studied the field that was in its beginning in Israel and in the world and developed evaluations in the area of reading and math. For help she recruited learning disabilities counselors who evaluated the students in school and afterwards, voluntarily, at Peretz Street in Tel-Aviv, in a small place, evaluated students, teachers received training, and went out of their way to giving treatment. Rivka saw the training and supervising in the field and not in the office. She traveled all over the country and dealt at length in broadening the awareness of the topic of students with learning disabilities.

In 1983, Sara Vilnai joined the center and directed it over 20 years. During the years, the center turned into a dynamic place. Hundreds of students from all over the country were examined every year and their teachers received training. Many continuing education courses were opened for teachers in the regular and in special education, where the leading course was the training of teachers to do didactic evaluations in Hebrew, Math, and later on in English. One of the goals that the center set for itself was to enter into places where the Ministry of Education didn't reach. Therefore, throughout the years the center has offered alternative medicine treatments, art therapy, movement therapy, and even occupational therapy.

The center acquired in cooperation with the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) expensive equipment: audiovisual equipment, instruments for occupational therapy, sensory accessories, and more, and loaned these to schools. In addition, the training center acted to increase awareness amongst the nation's institutions, and the center's staff were among the key deciders of important decisions on the topic of the rights of students with learning disabilities, for example: writing official policy on the topic for the school system, adjusted exams, handicap's law, learning disability act, and more.

One of the big projects in the work of the center was developing new evaluation tools in reading, after the old tools that Rivka developed weren't up-to-date, "The Diagnostic Battery of Reading Patterns in the Hebrew Language" developed by Dorit Lachman and Tzila Shalem with academic consultation from Professor Benetin.

Cooperation with the Ministry of Education ended in 2003 and today the center is run by Nitzan.