Dr. Aviva Weisbord announced last week that she will step down from her role as executive director of SHEMESH. Weisbord will become president of Maalot Baltimore, a women’s Torah seminary, at the end of January.
It was “a very hard decision” to leave SHEMESH, a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Weisbord told the JT. She described her work with the communitywide program, an organization that provides the educational support necessary for Jewish children with learning differences to reach their full intellectual, academic, emotional and social potential in a Jewish setting, as “inspiring every day.”
“It has been a thrill to work with the schools and The Associated,” she said, noting she has been with SHEMESH since its inception in July 2009.
Weisbord was among the founders of Maalot in 1998, and she has kept in contact with the school since then, including in recent years as it underwent capital renovations and expansion. Maalot provides a religious educational setting for graduates of Orthodox Jewish girls high schools. The school currently enrolls 200 students, 90 percent of whom go on to graduate school.
“The way I see it, while we can watch children with learning difficulties pick up skills and grow, and it is almost immediate gratification, being able to work with young women who are beginning their life journeys and help them develop as individuals, as Jewish women and as a part of the whole Baltimore community, is its own thrill,” said Weisbord. “I want [these young women] to know they can reach for the stars.”
Under Weisbord’s auspices, SHEMESH has grown from serving three schools to eight schools. In addition, Weisbord said she feels she has helped educate the day-school community — parents and teachers — about learning disabilities and the need to be more inclusive.
The Associated is overseeing the hiring of a new SHEMESH executive director beginning Jan. 1.