Community Magazine September 2021

58 COMMUNITY MAGAZINE Woman Woman to One on One ELLEN GELLER KAMARAS I was always very determined and was a strong student. Hashem blessed me in so many ways. Living in three different countries and Jewish communities by the time I was 13 years of age helped me adapt quickly, both personally and in my career. with Tania Zeitoune Please meet Tania Zeitoune, née Abadi, a vibrant dual language educator in the Brooklyn public school system. What perfect timing that I connected with Tania as we prepare our children and ourselves for the new school year. One of the first things that Tania toldmewas that she is an atypical Syrian girl. Every person is indeed unique, but Tania, born in Israel, lived in three countries, Guatemala, Venezuela, and Panama by the time she turned thirteen. She then moved to Brooklyn with her mother, Gina Abadi, her twin sister, and younger sister. Unfortunately, her father, Ezra Abadi, a”h , passed away before they left Panama. Tania’s father was in the import/export business, which was the reason for the family’s several moves. Both of Tania’s parents were born in Lebanon to families of Syrian descent, and they both emigrated to Venezuela separately. The couple met in Venezuela and married in Israel. Tania’s mother enrolled her at Magen David Yeshivah and the family prayed at the Sephardic Lebanese Congregation, where Tania and her family are nowmembers. Tania consistently excelled in school. She was fluent in both Spanish and English. “My mother was very caring. She was committed to education and instilled its significance in us. She gave me the confidence to shine academically. Before we started a new grade, she prepared us for the upcoming year by reviewing the new curriculum and doing worksheets with us. This allowed me to have a head start on the academics and focus on getting comfortable socially.” It is no surprise that Gina coached her children during the summers. She studied in France to become a French teacher and returned to Lebanon. College and Career Tania graduated MDY High School as salutatorian and was accepted into the Willian E. Macauley Honors Program at Brooklyn College. She achieved a perfect score on the math SAT and declared a major in accounting. Tania later realized that accounting did not come naturally and she switched to business and marketing. Tania scored paid internships, studied abroad in Italy, and thrivedwhileperformingmarketing in the financial world. Then Came Marriage At the outset of her career, Tania was hired to do marketing for a senior home and was putting in long hours. It was hashgacha pratit that Tania met her naseeb, Raymond Zeitoune, at a mutual family friend’s barbeque. After the BBQ, Raymond asked a mutual friend to set them up. Raymond, four years older than Tania, had graduated from Fordham Law School and was excited when he was introduced to her. Raymond wanted not only a wife and mother but a partner too, and he was attracted to Tania’s out-of-the-box childhood and energy. Tania was blessed to meet a soulmate who appreciated her passionate nature and would support her professional growth. Raymond has his own legal practice and the couple have three children, an eleven-year-old daughter, and two sons, eight and six years old. They chose Yeshiva Derech Eretz for their children for its blend of authentic Jewish values and its commitment to excellence in Torah education and academic studies. Career Choices Taniawas set on going for amaster’s degree in business, and then pivoted to education. “I was pregnant with my first child and knew I was social, super patient, and liked to teach. In high school, I volunteered for an organization dedicated to working with children with special needs. I registered in Touro College for Special Education. I gave birth tomy daughter during grad school and attended classes on Sunday and in the evenings.” Hermaster’sprogramincludedgeneraland special education and a bilingual specialty. Tania shared that it was from shamayim that she drove home a Touro classmate who encouraged her to apply for an internship certificate only a week before the deadline. The certificate would allow Tania to finish her degree while working and getting paid. Tania applied for a paraprofessional/shadow position but was offered a job as a bilingual SEIT. A SEIT is a Special Education Itinerant Teacher who travels to different schools and homes and helps children to integrate into mainstream classrooms, despite their challengeswith social/emotional, behavioral, speech, language, or developmental issues. Tania was a SEIT for eight years for the OMNI Childhood Center, an approved provider of SEITs. She worked in various - Tania