Effective September 1, Keren Or welcomed Shira Reifman as director, who will replace Tamara Silberberg when she retires at the end of the year, after 13 years of devoted service.
Shira comes to Keren Or from Kishorit, a kibbutz in the Galilee for adults with special needs, where she has been the director of development since 2012.
Prior to making aliyah in 2007, Shira worked for the Orthodox Union for 10 years in both their youth and special needs divisions. She served as the coordinator of national projects for the OU’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities and the coordinator for Junior Yachad, a youth group that brings adolescents with special needs together with their same-age peers, for weekend retreats, summer camps and a range of social and educational programs.
Shira holds a bachelor’s degree, a master’s in social work (MSW), and a master’s in business administration (MBA), all from Columbia University in New York City, and was selected by the Wexner Foundation as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Shira is married to Rabbi Daniel Reifman, a teacher at the Pardes Institute and the Bar Ilan Kollel, and they are the proud parents of five daughters.
Eliot Lauer, chairman of the board, in announcing the appointment, said, “We are thrilled to have Shira bring her passion and vast experience from working with the special needs community in Israel to the children and families of Keren Or. Under her leadership, we look forward to opening a new chapter of service and technical advancements, while maintaining our high standards of excellence for the care of our children. Shira’s work shall include a continued strong partnership both with the Jerusalem municipality and with the Israeli Ministries of Education and Welfare.”
Tamara Silberberg, who will remain at Keren Or for the balance of 2019 to ensure a smooth transition, thanked Keren Or for the opportunity to serve its children, sharing, “It has been a true privilege to lead Keren Or over the past 13 fulfilling and challenging years. My experiences will remain some of the most meaningful and moving in my 45-year career. As I retire, I am delighted to welcome Shira, who is very highly qualified, both personally and professionally, to provide inspired leadership over the exciting years ahead. We are fortunate to have Shira, who comes to Keren Or with a record of successful fundraising and a long history of advocacy for the rights of people with disabilities. She brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, compassion and a deep commitment to the care of the children of Keren Or. Under Shira’s leadership, I’m confident that values that inspired Keren Or since its founding will continue into a bright and successful future.”
Keren Or Jerusalem Center for Blind Children With Multiple Disabilities is the only therapy center of its kind in the world, under Jewish auspices, devoted exclusively to the visually impaired population. Our center is dedicated to the education and care of children in Israel who are visually impaired and also cognitively, developmentally and/or physically disabled. Our mission is to provide our students with comprehensive care, stimulating educational exercises and rehabilitative therapies designed to help them reach their full potential and lead lives that are meaningful and productive. Keren Or is a New York 501(c)(3) and 4-star Charity Navigator-rated nonprofit.
By Elizabeth David Dembrowsky