web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Lander College’

Letter from the Front: The Dean of Lander College for Women Writes to Students from Israel

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012
While spending Shabbat with her family in Jerusalem, Marian Stoltz-Loike, Ph.D, dean of the Lander College for Women-The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School (LCW), and the vice president for Online Education at Touro College, heard the piercing sound of an air raid siren, a warning that a rocket attack from Gaza was imminent. The following is a letter she sent to the students of LCW about her harrowing experience:
 
Dear Students,
I am writing from Yerushalayim. By now, I assume that you all know about the events of Friday evening. As you all know, there is always a tremendous busy-ness early on Friday afternoon which progressively quiets down as the time for candle lighting approaches. The pre-Shabbos calm had descended on Yerushalayim; the Yerushalayim Shabbos siren had gone off. I was at my daughter’s home. We had lit candles for Shabbos; my son-in-law had just left for shul and I was sitting on the floor playing with my grandsons, aged 2 and 4. All was calm—it was Shabbos and then a siren sounded. My initial thought was that there was a malfunction in the Shabbos alarm system…and then I heard my daughter yelling from the other room. “Imma, that’s the air raid siren, bring the boys to the shelter.”
Because she lives in a new apartment, she has a safe room. I picked up my younger grandson and told my older grandson to come with us. We had 90 seconds to get there (as compared to 15 seconds in the south), but we had already wasted precious seconds before we realized what was happening. We went to the safe room and for the sake of the children, behaved normally. My daughter sang Shabbos songs with the children and tried to answer my grandson’s repeated questions of “Imma, what do I do if I am at gan and the alarm goes off?”; “How do I go underground?” How do you explain things to a four-year old so he can stay safe without traumatizing him?
What did I think about in that safe room—how do people in Sderot and Beer Sheva do this for four years now?  What will the rest of Shabbos be like?  How many times will this situation repeat itself over Shabbos?  Who has been hurt?
After we left the safe room, we heard many, many emergency vehicle sirens. We were worried that that signified something deadly.  It was not until after Shabbos that we could discount rumors and get accurate news reports (and then understood that the sirens were only part of the normal emergencies that happen in every city).
People here are traumatized. They recognize how lucky they are B”H that no one was hurt, but worry about what will happen tomorrow and where they will be when the next siren goes off.  People’s children go to pre-schools that don’t have proper shelters. They go to work. They leave their homes—they worry about staying safe and keeping their families safe. In Yerushalayim, people understand that one rocket is not the same as the continual barrage in the south and the repeated refrain here, is what can we do for the south?  How could we not have recognized what they are experiencing on a daily basis?
What should you do? First, of course, say tehillim, learn more and daven. Second, send emails to people you know in Israel—friends from high school, students from your school who were a class or two behind you and of course your family. Let them know you are thinking of them. They need that for chizuk and psychological support. Third, write letters to your elected officials on a local, state and national level. Let them know that you stand with Israel, that you support the Gillebrand-Kirk resolution on Israel (if they were among the 62 co-sponsors, thank them) and that the rocket attacks in the south and beyond need to stop. Fourth, use your list serves, social media contacts, etc. to get messages out about your support for Israel and ask your contacts to take action in tefilah, support and chizuk.
Don’t underestimate the impact of your voice.
Dean Stoltz-Loike

Being Enmeshed: Insights Into Concurrently Holding On And Letting Go

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

I once heard a story about a single man struggling to find a spouse. His main challenge was his insistence that a potential mate permanently welcome his widowed mother into their marital home. A friend suggested that he speak with the great authority, Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l. The man shared with the Rav his delicate predicament. The Rav validated the man’s approach as acceptable. Sometime later, the man met his bashert, the special woman willing to live with his mom. They returned to Rav Shlomo Zalman for his blessing. Surprisingly, the Rav called the man aside and told him that they cannot live with his mother anymore. The young man was shocked. After all, on the previous visit, the Rav had supported his desire to find a woman who would accept their living with his mother. Rav Shlomo Zalman explained that he supported the young man’s exceptional requirement as a test of sorts, to ensure that the young lady he would marry would be a woman of valor, a woman of kindness. But once he had in fact found such a woman, it was imperative, for the sake of the marriage, to exclude the mother from a permanent place in the home.

Most newly married couples don’t permanently invite parents into their private dwelling in a literal sense, but figuratively, they may bring their parents along for the ride. In the national bestseller The Good Marriage, Judith Wallerstein & Sandra Blakeslee report that many marriage counselors tell their clients “there are at least six people in every marriage – the couple and both sets of parents.” A delicate balance must be struck between maintaining positive and meaningful connection with family of origin, while at the same time, not alienating the new spouse and the fledgling marital union. In his renowned work, The Art of Loving, Eric Fromm discusses object relations theory and the process of individuation from parents. He explains that ideally we physically separate from our parents while concurrently bringing them with us in our minds and hearts. In this way, our parents are a support and a significant and influential backdrop throughout our lives. This concept is highlighted in the episode in Parshas Vayeshev when Yosef is saved from eishet Potifar’s advances with the help of the image of his father Yaakov, “dmus dyukno shel aviv.” He is far away from his home, but yet able to marshal Yaakov’s values and spiritual strength when it was most needed.

I recall many years ago counseling a young couple immediately after their marriage. It seemed that the husband was looking forward to a honeymoon with his new bride. His wife wasn’t adverse to the honeymoon, but her family had planned their yearly family vacation and the young lady didn’t want to give up on this special time. I empathized with both the young man’s disappointment in potentially having his new in-laws intrude on his honeymoon time, and the young women’s deep desire to remain attached to her parents and siblings. These tensions and conflicts are rampant in many marriages and don’t always have easy solutions. Sometimes a young couple is placed in the unenviable position of having to erect boundaries, as the more “mature” parents are oblivious to these considerations and are grasping to hold onto a child. It’s a complex dance with competing interests and my purpose in this brief article is to try to articulate some foundational principles to protect the marriage and the formation and development of the couple.

Jewish couples stand under a chuppah or canopy during the marriage ceremony. This canopy has no walls just a roof. The chuppah symbolizes the home and the husband bringing the wife into his material and spiritual domain. The task of erecting walls for this edifice is left to the couple. They must, over the course of their lives together, fill-in those walls and thereby fortify their relationship. Wallerstein and Blakesley alluded to above, bring an anecdote about a mother sitting down with her future daughter-in-law and attempting to intimidate her. She tells the poor girl that her upcoming marriage is doomed to failure. The young girl is mortified and immediately calls her future husband. The husband says, “don’t worry about it. I’m going to call my mother right now and tell her she’s not invited to our wedding.” This is a beautiful illustration of communicating to a spouse that they are the absolute priority. They report that this uncomfortable episode ultimately helped launch the marriage.

The Rabbi As First Responder

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Ohel is well known in the New York area for the foster care programming it has been providing for over 40 years, along with its mental health services to individuals and families, and its services to the developmentally disabled through its Bais Ezra programs. Ohel also provides substantial training to professionals, and workshops and seminars to the community at large.

 

Over the last few years, Ohel has been concentrating some of its efforts on a group of perfectly healthy adults – rabbis. “The rav of a community is often the first person who congregants approach,” said Ohel’s chief operating officer Manny Wertman, referring to a person with an emotional or psychological issue. “They are in a unique position to be successful in a sophisticated way.” Wertman explains the need for the Rabbinic Training programs currently being run for students of Yeshiva University (YU) and Lander College, as well as for the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI). Derek Saker, Ohel’s director of communications and marketing, goes further. “We want pulpit rabbis to have a good understanding [of mental illness], to at least know when there is a problem.”

 

 

 

Manny Wertman, COO of Ohel, delivering a lecture to pulpit rabbis as part of a 12- month health-training workshop series in pastoral counseling. The series was organized with the National Council of Young Israel and Touro College. (Photos courtesy of Ohel.)

 

 

The training seminars focus on teaching basic information about mental health topics. Post-partum depression, sexual abuse, and addiction are just some of the subjects covered. Rabbis are trained to identify these issues and how to react to their constituents when approached for help. While many rabbis are intelligent and talented when it comes to congregants seeking counsel, Ohel wants to be sure that they recognize the limitations of their counseling abilities. Wertman stresses that rabbis can be great resources for congregants but need to know “how far their own counseling should go, and when to call in a professional.” With tools learned through the training institute and other informational sessions, the hope is that rabbis will not mistakenly ignore a greater issue than what they think they’re observing.

 

Rabbi Binyamin Hammer, director of rabbinic services at the NCYI, has been organizing rabbinic training programs for close to 15 years. Each of the first 13 years of the training programs consisted of 16 classes. “A small percentage of the classes were given by the staff at Ohel. There was a need to run deeper programs on mental health training,” said Rabbi Hammer. He met with noted author, lecturer, and therapist Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski, who gave his full support to the idea and told him that if they started the program, he would be a presenter.

 

In September 2008, Rabbi Hammer sent a letter inviting participation in this new program. “In today’s Torah leadership, the esteemed role of mara d’atra is increasingly challenged by the psychological and social issues of bale’batim. The pressures and demands of the mara d’atra require that the rav develop knowledge of counseling and an understanding of how to make proper referrals. The program will enhance the ability of a mara d’atra to understand the needs of his kehillah, and to enable him to make appropriate and helpful suggestions – whether halachic or personal.”

 

(L-R) Five YU semicha students attending mental health training session at Ohel; Rabbi Menachem Penner, director of Professional Rabbinic Education at YU; Manny Wertman, COO of Ohel; and Dr. Hindie Klein, director of Tikvah at Ohel.

 

The letter included a tentative schedule of topics to be covered, including two extended laylot iyun that were also open to rebbetzins. “We were hoping that 12-15 rabbis would participate,” said Rabbi Hammer, “but we consistently had 40 rabbanim at every session, and they usually kept the presenters for an extra hour after the seminar, asking them questions.”

 

Rabbi Dov Schreier, a Yeshiva University musmach and rabbi of the Young Israel of North Bellmore in New York, attended the yearlong training. “The speakers were top of the line in their fields,” he said. Although Rabbi Schreier has been a rabbi for almost 10 years, he explained that, “The topics being covered were items that I wished I had been able to handle differently in the past.”

 

Rabbi Hammer felt that although Yeshiva University-ordained rabbis received some mental health training in recent years, including some by Ohel, most other rabbinic students did not have any training. The NCYI program’s participants included rabbis from all walks of the yeshiva world, with only five from YU. Based on both this program’s success and the YU sessions, Ohel has recently launched a similar program for rabbinic students attending the Beis Medrash L’Talmud of Lander College, provided by The Mel and Phyllis Zachter Institute for Professional Training at Ohel.

 

Wertman also stresses that a goal of these programs is to help “remove the stigma of mental illness and other conditions,” as well as the stigma of receiving help from a mental health professional. “By training rabbis who can educate their communities, we can reach more people to the end of reaching this goal,” he said.

 

For more information about rabbinic training programs, or programs for parents and lay people, please visit www.ohelfamily.org.

 

Amy Dubitsky is a freelance writer in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/the-rabbi-as-first-responder/2010/02/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: