By Rochelle Maruch Miller
It was a tragedy that took four precious lives, all members of a beautiful family. In the summer of 2010, Rikki and Racheli Menora, z’l, two young girls in the prime of their lives, tragically were killed, together with their grandfather Moshe, z’l, and cousin Sara, z’l, in a horrific plane crash.
In order to ensure that their lives and memories would be channeled for a continued good, DROR—in Hebrew, it is an acronym of “Derech Rikki and Racheli”—was founded. Inspired by many of the traits that defined Rikki and Racheli in their all-too-short lives, DROR is an organization that embraces the spirit of activity and empowerment to benefit the lives of adolescent girls.
DROR’s mission is to help provide these girls with the tools and encouragement to strive high and succeed through the power of education and athletic activity.
Based in Bet Shemesh, where Rikki and Racheli, z’l, grew up and studied, DROR is dedicated to creating a working model to inspire a new generation of involved and inspired young women.
With DROR’s operations currently in two schools, the students who are selected to participate are offered a customized program, combining scholastic support and athletic training. The program has been designed so that it will be applied in additional schools as DROR grows.
In an interview with the 5TJT, Mrs. Sima Menora discusses DROR, the beautiful legacy she established to perpetuate the memory of her beloved daughters. Sima is truly an eisheschayil and an exemplar of bitachon.
RMM: What makes DROR unique?
SM: We are an organization with a vision that specifically integrates the ideals of personal ambition together with athletics while adhering to Jewish values. This is a model that makes us stand out and we feel confident it will become well-known in educational circles all over Israel and eventually around the world.
RMM: How has the program evolved since its inception?
SM: It’s wonderful to see how DROR has grown over the years and how it is on the path to continue expanding in the coming years. And with the participation of the Azrieli Foundation, we are able to further develop the educational programming. We’ve learned more about what works for the girls, which programs could use more attention, which sports activities are more appreciated by the girls, etc.
RMM: What does the selection process involve?
SM: We work together with the teachers, guidance counselors, and principals of the schools to determine which students could benefit from the program.
RMM: What can you tell us about DROR’s staff?
SM: We try to have the girls’ math teachers work on the subject matter with them, but in some instances we hire outside teachers. Our English teacher, for example, is trained in special education and does educational counseling. Our hip-hop teachers have been teaching for years, and our kickboxing teacher is actually a European gold medal holder in Thai kickboxing.
RMM: How does DROR impact upon the girls’ lives?
SM: It’s absolutely inspiring to see the change that this program can make within these girls. We have seen students who shrink down in their desks to avoid being called upon change into confident young women who are proud to share their opinions and thoughts with the class. Girls who were once frustrated by low grades now are able to believe in themselves and their abilities to do better.
RMM: Sima, please share some of your success stories with our readers.
SM: There are many girls in our program whose scores have risen from 50s and 60s to 80s and 90s. There was one girl who absolutely refused to partake in the dancing for about two months, and when I came to visit last week, I saw her joining with the other girls and having a fabulous time. One by one, I see the girls opening up and seeing themselves as capable of achieving excellence, be it in school or in life.
RMM:B’ezras Hashem, you’ve truly accomplished so much. To what would you attribute the program’s success?
SM: We truly believe that when mind and body are at optimum health, you can achieve anything. When you feel good about yourself, you are motivated to push yourself to even greater things. Each one of our programs is important in itself, but when you combine them, we find our girls are happier and more confident, and we look forward to watching them accomplish great things.
RMM: What response has DROR elicited from the girls, their parents, educators, and the marathon runners?
SM: Because our programs take place after school hours, our girls and their parents need to be committed to participating. It shows how much these girls want to succeed by the fact that they stay late to work hard and play hard.
RMM: How can readers show their support?
SM: We have a great team running together for the upcoming Jerusalem Marathon on March 13. If you want to support DROR’s programs, you can help by sponsoring one of our runners or by joining our team. Our website, www.drornow.org, has a dedicated page for the marathon runners explaining why they each chose to support DROR for this unique running experience.
RMM: Sima, what message would you like to convey to our readers?
SM: We strive to empower young women to feel confident in themselves, because once they do, we know they will achieve great things. Everything in life should be looked upon as a window of opportunity to challenge yourself to be better, stronger, more confident. Everyone has something to contribute, but sometimes we just need an extra push to get there.