The young women of Mesorah are demonstrating the essence of chessed, lovingkindness, with Project Shay (www.projectshay.com), a program the students developed to support Brooke and Barak Krengel, whose daughter Shayna, 2½, was diagnosed in May with Rett Syndrome.
According to Rettsyndrome.org, “Rett Syndrome is a rare non-inherited genetic postnatal neurological disorder that occurs almost exclusively in girls and leads to severe impairments, affecting nearly every aspect of the child’s life: their ability to speak, walk, eat and even breathe easily. The hallmark of Rett Syndrome is near-constant repetitive hand movements while awake.” Overwhelmingly, Rett Syndrome is found in girls.
When they learned of Shayna, the Mesorah students — with chessed always top of mind — “adopted” the engaging little girl. Mesorah junior Tehilla Rosenberg wrote recently, “The Krengels have shown great strength in dealing with their challenging situation. In an interview with students from Mesorah, the Krengels described their reaction to the diagnosis. ‘It was hard to get such heavy news, but if all we did was ask ‘Why us, why Shayna?’ …We are her parents, and we must be her cheerleaders, so that she can continue to advance. Shayna is so strong and rarely complains. She deserves the absolute best, and that’s what we are striving to give her. We have gained a lot from this experience: patience, trust, faith, love, determination, to name a few. Look, we don’t understand why this is happening, or why something so difficult was put on our innocent daughter, but we trust that everything happens for a reason. We are learning that we are a lot tougher and stronger than we thought we were. We know that Shayna is so special and positively impacts everyone she comes in contact with; she is our inspiration. Shayna’s positive upbeat attitude is what keeps us going, and we try to apply this to our lives every day.’’
The Mesorah girls go to the Krengels’ home. They play with Shayna, read to her and give her lots of hugs. This allows the Krengels to do necessary chores around the house and provides some respite.
The Krengels have been touched by the students, and the students have gained insights about themselves and their classmates as well.
Sophomore Moussa Shapiro is inspired by the Krengels’ fortitude, optimism and honesty. “It’s such a special family. They are putting their story out there and they want to inspire other people and show that it’s OK to have these challenges.”
“Project Shay represents what our school is all about,” says senior Rachel Dykman, “being a family, being here for one another.”
Junior Shira Michaels adds, “It has taught me so much about being grateful for what I have and for the people in my school because doing this project really brought so many of the girls together.”
To help raise awareness for Rett Syndrome and to help support the Krengel family, the Mesorah girls have produced a CD, Libeinu. Cut in a studio, the CD, which was released today, May 3, is available at projectshay.com for $15 or you can download the music for $10.
Many girls mentioned the hard work involved, and how rewarding it has been to see each girl use her unique talent to contribute to the project.
Freshman Tova Kam says, “We put a lot of work into this for a higher purpose.”
“This whole journey has been truly incredible… I feel so connected to more girls now because of it. It’s just really been a unifying experience,” added senior Leah Esther Broodo.
To download or purchase the CD and to learn more about Project Shay, visit projectshay.com.