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Jews You Should Know

Aug 27, 2018


As an innocent Jewish youth in Vancouver, Canada, and later as a rabbinical student and aspiring scribe in Israel, Kalman Samuels could never have imagined the life-changing events that awaited him. When he and wife Malkie welcomed their second child, Yossi, to the world forty-one years ago, they looked forward to a bright and normal future; but after a tainted batch of vaccine rendered Yossi totally blind and deaf, they entered an unprecedented chapter as a family.

As an eight year old boy in a school for deaf children, Yossi encountered a dedicated teacher who helped him - for the first time - learn to "read" symbols in his palm, opening him to the world of communication. Soon afterwards he learned to communicate synthetically, and at that moment Kalman's wife Malkie committed to dedicate their lives to alleviating the isolation and anguish that other special needs families experienced.

The couple first launched a modest after-school program, which grew into an impressive Jerusalem center with a variety of programs for special children and their families. After years laboring in this field, they catapulted their venture - Shalva, which literally means "serenity" - to an entirely new sphere, constructing a 220,000 square-foot, $63 million world-class structure dedicated to servicing every conceivable need of the special needs population, as well as to bringing the notions of inclusion - and reverse inclusion - to levels unforseen prior.

Today Shalva is a global leader, a destination for children and families from all over the country, and a resounding testament to the fortitude of one special young man, and his remarkably driven parents.



Jews You Should Know introduces the broader community to interesting and inspiring Jewish men and women making a difference in our world. Some are already famous, some not yet so. But each is a Jew You Should Know.

The host, Rabbi Ari Koretzky, is Executive Director of MEOR Maryland (, a premier Jewish outreach and educational organization. MEOR operates nationally on twenty campuses and in Manhattan; visit the national website at

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