JADE BAR SHALOM, z"l




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Jade Bar-Shalom (Yehudit Bat Shira) was born in New York City in 1960. When Jade was very young, her mother returned after a visit to the New York Eye and Ear Clinic in tears. She had brought Jade there to find out why her very sweet and social little girl wasn't talking properly. She was told that for reasons not completely understood - possibly as a result of running high fevers - Jade's auditory nerves were damaged and she would never hear sounds the same way that others could hear them. They would always be distant, distorted, and full of interference. The family, which was struggling financially, took the news hard. Everyone feared that Jade might never learn to speak, but she overcame the early disadvantage, working on her speech with a determination worthy of someone far older. She not only learned to speak, she became so articulate, and was such a good listener, that people unaware of her hearing loss often would not realize it until they were told.

In 1984, when Jade made the decision to make Israel her home, she had to go through the struggle all over again to cope with Hebrew - this time without the help of a speech therapist - and again, despite the difficulties, the setbacks, the frustration, she succeeded.

While working as an English teacher in Ma'alot, Akko and other Israeli towns, Jade began to develop her own approach to English language learning for children. Drawing on her own experiences, her programs combined the use of action, drama, free reading of literature and group projects to reach her students and make the language live and become a vital part of their education and abilities. Urged by her husband, Ilan Bar-Shalom, himself an educator, and her older sister, Rena Cohen, to complete her higher education with an eye toward one day formalizing and expanding her approach to English language education for young children, Jade - who by now also had three wonderful children of her own, her son Aylam, and twin daughters, Dovraht and Zohar - took up a new challenge and began studying at Haifa University to complete her Master's Degree and earn a doctorate.

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As the hopes of the Oslo peace process began drowning in the blood of the terror campaign that began in 2000, Jade and Ilan worked hard locally in Northern Israel to help hold the various communities - Jewish, Muslim, Arab Christian, and Druze - together and communicating as violence and outside agitators worked to destabilize the area. As the economic picture in Israel grew progressively darker under the repeated blows of attacks around the country, Jade also organized help for local families whenever possible as they began slipping under with jobs growing scarce, small factories closing, and government funds being diverted increasingly to defense and away from-among other vital services-education.

In the fall of 2002, Jade phoned her sister Rena in the U.S. to share her deep concern over an announcement that she had just heard at a meeting of the English Teachers of Israel Association. There would be no further funds available to purchase English language books for Israel's public schools. Convinced that Israel's future would be damaged if her people do not receive a thorough education in the language internationally used for trade, diplomacy, and science, and aware of the tremendous psychological damage that was being done to Israel's children on a daily basis by the continued violence and threat of terror, Jade and Rena determined to begin working together to bring the situation of the students and teachers of Israel's public schools to the attention of concerned people in the English speaking world who, they hoped, would come forward to help if they were given a simple, practical way to do so. The Books for Israel Project ("B4i") was launched, with Rena serving as international coordinator to help publicize the effort, and Jade and Ilan serving as the lead organizers and mentors for the teachers and schools of Israel. Since its inception in 2002, the many synagogues, churches, community centers, B'nai Mitzvah, and concerned families and individuals who have come forward to work with Books for Israel have delivered over 50 tons of books to Israel's schools. More importantly, some lasting friendships have been built across the oceans. Each English language room made possible by Books for Israel brings a message home to the students in Israel's poor and low-income neighborhood schools-their education is important, and there are people out there who want them to succeed and are working to help.

Continuing in the tradition of Jade's earlier community work, the Books for Israel Project was and is designed and intended to work with any and all Israeli public schools - Jewish religious, Jewish secular, Druze, Muslim, Arab Christian, Bahai - the effort welcomes any and all schools to this "bootstrap" effort, in which the teachers volunteer their time to become goodwill ambassadors to the outside world, and the children - and often their parents - volunteer their time to organize and house the books so lovingly sent to help them learn.

In August 2005, Jade became seriously ill, and had to undergo emergency surgery. She was diagnosed with Grade III brain cancer.

Jade's life bears witness to the fact that a person is not defined either by their disabilities or by their illnesses if they will not consent to be so defined, and that a strong spirit, courage, determination and faith can overcome many obstacles. In August 2005, the name of the project was changed to the Jade Bar-Shalom Books for Israel Project as a living testament to her vision, her tremendous concern for others and especially for children, and her wonderful strong spirit.

Jade passed away on the evening of Tish'a Be'av, August 2nd, 2006. May her soul rest in peace.

Jade's loving family:
Her husband - Ilan Bar-Shalom
Her children - Aylam, Dovraht and Zohar Bar-Shalom
Her parents - Eliezer and Shira Behar, of Kibbutz Nachshon, Israel
Her sisters - Rena Cohen and Danielle Behar Hartung
Her brothers-in-law - Ariel Cohen and Vince Hartung
Her niece - Tal-Or Cohen, and nephew - El-Ad Cohen

Condolences were sent to the site of the English Teachers' Network of Israel (ETNI) by English teachers all over Israel, paying tribute to Jade's outstanding contribution to educational values.