A Circle of Smiles

Event Raises Money for School in Israel, Books & Bikes fundraiser benefits Beit Issie Shapiro

By Sharon Cotal, Brentwood Patch

With his baseball cap on backward and a big smile on his face, 5-year-old Julian  rode his tricycle around the track Sunday at Stephen S. Wise Temple Early Childhood Center.

“We’re raising money for Mika,” Julian said.

Mika is a little girl who attends Beit Issie Shapiro, a school in Israel for children with disabilities. Her photo is in Julian’s classroom because his school helps support Mika’s school.

“We support their school through our Cycles For Smiles fundraisers,” said Sheryl Cohen, executive director of the Early Childhood Center. “The kids bring in money from their piggy banks and their parents give them money, and they get to ride their bicycles and tricycles around the track.”

The fundraisers are usually held during school hours, but the Early Childhood Center held a special Books & Bikes community event Sunday to celebrate the release of the book, “A Circle of Smiles,” by one of the school’s teachers, Sylvia Rouss.

“I have written other books, so my director asked me if I could write a book about Beit Issie Shapiro, which is a school that we support,” Rouss said.

The book tells the fictional story of Rachel, a student involved in the Cycles For Smiles program.

“She visits her cousin in Israel who happens to attend Beit Issie Shapiro, so the book talks about her experiences at Beit Issie and she leads us through the different parts of the school,” she said.

Rouss presented autographed copies of the book at the Books & Bikes event.

“I wanted to make people familiar with the school, but also to help the children who raise money for the school understand what the school is like,” Rouss said.

“A Circle of Smiles” sells for $36 and is available at www.AFOBIS.org.