|Ulpanat Neve Ruchama founder,|
On Yom Yerushalayim next week, Mayor Nir Barkat
will award the Jerusalem Municipality's annual Yakir Yerushalayim Prize to Mrs. Cecilia (Cissie) Chalkowsky
(78). As a veteran educator in Jerusalem, Cissie has brought many educational innovations and initiatives to the city, most prominently, the girls' high school, Ulpanat Neve Ruhama
, which introduced new teaching methods for learning disabilities into Israeli education world.
Cissie was born in Chicago, Illinois and from the age of 15 was active in the religious Zionist Bnei Akiva youth movement. She immigrated to Israel in 1958 and studied sociology and education at the Hebrew University, and worked as the original dorm counselor at the first Ulpanat Bnei Akiva in Kfar Pines.
After graduating she established the religious studies track at the Beer Sheva Comprehensive High School, and later became the first dormitory director at Ulpanat "Horev" in Jerusalem. In 1983 she founded Ulpanat Neve Ruhama in Jerusalem, which became the address for teen girls who suffered from severe learning disabilities. Cissie ran the school until her retirement in 2011, and over the years the school earned the nickname "Ulpanat Cissie."
In 2008, in preparation for her retirement, Cissie asked the YBA educational network to take over the educational and financial management of the school, to assure that her life's work would continue to thrive. Today, UBA Neve Ruchama serves 266 girls in grades 7-12 from Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Since retiring Cissie has engaged in voluntary educational activities in the various sectors.