Big dinners aid special school

By Jonathan Kalmus, June 17, 2011
Judge Dan Butler addressing Tuesday’s Aim Habonim dinner

Judge Dan Butler addressing Tuesday’s Aim Habonim dinner

The parents of three severely disabled children who founded a Jewish special needs school in Salford were overwhelmed by community support for their first fundraising dinners which 1,200 people attended this week.

A committee of strictly Orthodox parents and governors of the Aim Habonim school organised separate ladies' and gents' evenings on Monday and Tuesday, which raised £40,000.

One man pledged £1,100 for the honour of conducting grace after meals.

Aim Habonim was founded in 2007 after the parents were unable to find expert therapy for their three children through the NHS. It now has 25 pupils and subsidises early intervention therapies for children as young as six months, before parents can receive government support for special needs education.

Guest speaker at both dinners was Dan Butler, a retired US criminal judge from Pittsburgh whose son Mikey died of cystic fibrosis in 2004 and who also has two autistic children.

A board member of HASC, America's largest Jewish special needs organisation, Judge Butler told 500 diners on Tuesday: "All my son wanted was a normal day in his life. Most of us had a normal day yesterday and it's our duty to look for other people we can share our normal day with. This is the reason why we are here tonight for Aim Habonim."

The appeal was made by Salford GP Shmuel Levenson.

Aim Habonim co-founder Dovid Leaman said support was "phenomenal for our first dinners. It is incredible and we didn't expect a turnout like this from all over Manchester."

Last updated: 11:14am, June 17 2011