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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Moishe Herskowitz’

‘Majority Rules’ – The Bum Class

Wednesday, October 1st, 2003

In my last article, I discussed the topic of “teens at risk.” We have always had “teens at risk” within our yeshiva system, but they were segregated and referred to as the “bum class.” This class was separated from the mainstream students, and given its own separate rebbe to provide support services. The success of this system was due to the fact that yeshivas followed the Torah con­cept that “majority rules”. The yeshivas achieved their goals when working with “teens at risk” by keeping a certain balance. On one side of the scale, they had a small group of “at risk” students; on the other side, they had the majority of mainstream students who would outweigh the “at risk” population by 80 to 90 percent.

The benefits of this system were twofold: (1) the major­ity could serve as a positive role model for the minority and, in time, absorb the at rise group, and (2) — this would help prevent the minority group from ending up on the streets, meeting the wrong people, and forming a group of their own — a group which is known today as “teens at risk.”

Well, if the system worked, why did we change it? The rabbanim teach us that environmental factors effect our judgement and how we function. Since the inception of special education in the school system, there became a growing awareness of needs and expectations in the educational system as a whole. Yeshivas were no exception, and they wanted to provide high quality edu­cation consistent with the students’ needs. While the Board of Education put their “special” students in a more restrictive environment, yeshivas put theirs in a less restrictive environment.

The beliefs were that students are more alike than different, and that integrating classes would result in im­proved students. Yeshivas moved quickly to provide qual­ity education to their “bum” classes. In an effort to no longer stigmatize and segregate students from the main­stream, they moved the “bum class” to a less restrictive environment with the best intentions.

In theory, strengthening general education to sup­port all students with high expectations sounded good. But many of these students had special needs, and the integration process moved much too quickly. The stu­dents needed time, tolerance, patience and support ser­vices. Since they felt like failures, many teens rebelled.

About a year ago, a computer based vocational train­ing program was introduced into the Jewish community. It was sponsored in part by the I.D.T. Corporation and a leading rav in the community. Those who headed the project were determined to make a difference for Jewish youth who were not succeeding in the mainstream yeshi­vas. They did this by setting up a balance of 80 percent mainstream, 20 percent “at risk,” similar to what was done in the yeshivas in the past. Together with a team of professionals, a curriculum was developed that would provide students with the skills and training to become network engineers.

This vocational training program was staffed by both rabbonim and computer specialists. This way, they could provide the necessary support services that would enhance positive goals, spiritual self-esteem, and meaningful employment. As a result, the “at risk” teens would be absorbed into the system and become productive citi­zens in the community.

In short, the I.D.T. vocational program was a great success. This vocational yeshiva worked so well that it could have served as a role model for other schools to follow. Soon, they were flooded with phone calls from par­ents all over New York begging to accept their children into this program.

As more and more “at risk” teens were accepted, they began to tip the scale from 20 to 52 percent, lowering the mainstream ratio to 49 percent. Since the balance was upset, there were not enough positive role models to look up to. The majority were no longer the mainstream teens, but the “teens at risk,” and soon the program fell apart.

Rabbi Eleazar Ben Shimon says, “the world is judged according to the majority, and the individual is judged according to the majority. If the person performs one commandment, he should rejoice because he has tipped the scales of the world towards merit” (Gemara Kidushin).

The Torah states that in order to know the future, we must learn from the past. With Hashem’s help, perhaps we can return to the past to help the future of our youth.

Forgiven But Not Forgotten

Wednesday, May 14th, 2003

There is something about an approaching wedding that can cause a state of emotional upheaval. This should be of no surprise. In most cases, marriage reflects two sets of personalities; the chassan’s and the kallah’s. The parents too are involved. They produce a relationship that is more than the sum total of themselves. This relationship includes their family, and yet a separation is about to take place for both parent and child.

In working with many couples, I find that one parent or sometimes both sets of parents cannot adjust to the “loss” of their child. They may accept the union at the conscious level, but not at the unconscious level. As a result, communication misunderstandings between the future in-laws begin to develop. Statements like “who pays for what?” and “you promised this!” become heated discussions for both the couple and the parents. Parents frequently ventilate their dissatisfactions to their children in hopes for some support, which makes the separation so much more difficult.

But in time, parents do achieve a degree of detachment and adjustment and all is forgiven. But for the chassan and kallah, all is not forgotten.

As Rabbi Shmuel Dishon, shlita, states “the engaged couple is sensitive to the environment and people around them.”

What the chassan and kallah had hoped for was an affectionate alliance between families. But what they got was years of resentment towards their in-laws.

Pre-marital counseling helps prevent misunderstandings. The couple understands themselves and their partner’s family so that issues of the past do not become issues for the future.

When I met with Rav Pam, zt”l, regarding pre-marital counseling at CPC, he stated that this program should be an extension of every chassan and kallah class.

Moishe Herskowitz MS., CSW, is a marriage counselor and maintains his private practice in Brooklyn as founder of CPC. He is an educator, lecturer, consultant and adjunct professor at Touro College. He is the counseling coordinator for Career Services at Touro College and the At Risk Center in Brooklyn. Moishe is presently working as a licensed guidance counselor for the NYC Board of Ed. in Special Education.

For more information or to obtain a free brochure, please contact Moishe Herskowitz at 435-7388 or at Ladino23@aol.com.

A Lesson In Self-Control

Wednesday, September 12th, 2001

The objective of Pre-Marital Counseling is for couples to learn new skills on how to improve commu­nication, and resolve conflicts creatively. It would seem logical that the parents of these couples have learned from being together and through a lot of tough times that good communication is the single most important aspect of a satisfying relationship.

Take the case of Yoni and Dina, ages 22 and 19. The couple was referred to me by a leading rav in the community. Both Chassan and Kallah came from excep­tionally fine families and yeshiva backgrounds. Yoni was accepted to dental school and Dina was still in school. The wedding was only weeks away and the couple was getting a little nervous. As with all couples, I did a short intake and assessment in our first meeting.

Yoni’s personality is easy going — he likes quiet, uninterrupted time alone for reflecting, reading and studying new subjects.

Dina’s personality is outgoing — she likes people, she’s warm and friendly, and she likes organizing projects and events.

After the fifth session, I wished the happy couple Mazel Tov and off they went into the “sunset”!

It wasn’t until three months later, as I was rush­ing to get a haircut, that I met Dina standing outside the barbershop waiting for Yoni to finish his haircut. The timing was perfect. With every couple I do a three-month follow up. As we talked about married life, Dina explained that “Yoni is very busy in school and I knew how hard he was studying, but since he started school we never talked! It was just Yoni and that book! We didn’t go out anymore be­cause that would be a waste of study time.” But, as time passed, Dina said “I started feeling lonely. Yoni noticed that I was get­ting moody but said noth­ing, and with time, I started getting angry at him. The loneliness scared me, all I wanted to do was to release this rage of anger. But if I did, Yoni could no longer study. As I was just about to breakdown and cry, Baruch Hashem, I noticed that refrigerator magnet you gave us in our last session. It stated that ‘It’s not what you say, but how you say it’ and with that, I remembered what we talked about. At that moment, with all my strength, I stopped myself. I needed to talk to Yoni, not yell or cry. I did the most difficult thing I had ever done in my life, I waited until the next day. At that point, I was calm and relaxed enough to talk to Yoni. We took turns talking and listening to each other, as you taught us. We discussed our preferences and what I was feeling, and for the first time I felt that he was listening, which made me feel so much better!”

In the spring of ’76, Rabbi Moish Chait, shlita, stated in one of his lecture series at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim that “Hashem held back a part of Himself in order to create the world. When a spouse holds back anger as a form of self control, that couple merits the Shechina to rest upon them.”

Moishe Herskowitz MS., CSW, is a marriage coun­selor and maintains his private practice in Brooklyn as founder of CPC. He is an educator, lecturer, consultant and adjunct professor at Touro College. He is the coun­seling coordinator for Career Services at Touro College and the At Risk Center in Brooklyn. Moishe is presently working as a licensed guidance counselor for the NYC Board of Ed. in Special Education.

For more information or to obtain a free brochure, please contact Moishe Herskowitz at 718-435-7388 or at Ladino23@aol.com.

CPC — Center for Pre-Marital Counseling, is en­dorsed by Rabbi Pikus of COJO of Flatbush, and leading rabbonim and Torah authorities in the NY community.

Maturity

Wednesday, July 25th, 2001

Marriage demands the best in maturity, but this does not mean that couples are necessarily mature to begin with. A factor of greatest importance in the success or failure of any marriage is the emotional maturity of the partners. Marriage is a cooperative venture involving two people who must make certain sacrifices for the partnership and for each other. The maturing person begins to recognize the necessity for giving. Each person gives of him or her­self— in emotional support, acceptance and appreciation — as part of a mutual exchange that adds up to a satisfy­ing relationship. The maturing person begins to under­stand that much of life consists of exchanges and stages of achievement that are necessary for emotional growth.

Yet some adults marry, never having achieved this level of maturity. Why? Eric Erikson, a well-known psycho­analyst, explains that each stage in life presents the individual with a major task to be achieved, which includes problems, needs and limitations. He states that “an achievement mastered at the appropriate stage may prepare the growing child to take on the task of the next stage.” Failure to attain specific achievement when it is crucial to do so, will stun, if not stop, the emotional growth to an immature stage in life. The result is the lack of ability to solve new problems, new challenges and changing circum­stances. This can cause difficulties in marriage and at work. Erikson also states that “The ability to accommodate one­self to changing circumstances is a mark of maturity.”

Recently, a therapist from out of town called me for some supervision on a particular case he was working on. It seems that the couple he was working with has been married for 15 years. The wife is insisting on a divorce, stating that she just doesn’t love him anymore. The hus­band claims that he loves his wife and children and al­ways will. In 15 years of marriage, he has provided her with the emotional and physical support so that she could grow and become more secure and independent. This was not easy, as he would come home from work and then start cooking and cleaning the house. But with all this, she wants her freedom!

I explained to the therapist that in the early part of marriage, couples often tend to parentify each other, each pushing the relationship toward the form of parent-child relationship. The husband did try to improve their rela­tionship by taking anger management classes, but they were still left with issues regarding her lack of emotional maturity.

Emotionally, the wife is now in her teenage years, trying to find herself. In many cases, these marriages do work! In time, the immature adult does grow up through marriage. If a proper emotional environment is created, a caring spouse can undo the psychological damage done by inattentive parents. Adults who are immature cannot put the needs of a spouse and children before their own. They feel the need to escape back to the freedom that they had before marriage.

I advised the therapist not to give up on the couple. With all the anger and confusion, the couple needs to become aware of what has been and is happening to them. For many adults, the responsibilities and privileges of marriage are the greatest incentive to growth and shalom bayis. •

Moishe Herskowitz M.S., LCSW, developed the T.E.A.M. (Torah Education & Awareness for a better Mar­riage) approach based on 20 successful years of counseling couples — helping them to communicate effectively and fully appreciate each other. As a licensed and highly certified social worker and renowned family therapist, he developed this breakthrough seminar to guide new couples through easy-to-accomplish steps towards a happy, healthy mar­riage. Moishe Herskowitz holds a certificate from the Brook­lyn Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in couples and marriage therapy. He is an active member of the New York Counseling Association for Marriage and Family Counseling.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/maturity/2001/07/25/

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