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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Special Education’

‘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.

The Bum Class

Wednesday, September 24th, 2003

When Rov Pam, a”h, gave me the go ahead to do Pre-Marital counseling, I knew in time I would add more topics to my curriculum. But I never dreamed that I would be talking about teenagers at risk to a couple that just go engaged! But the fact remains that I do. Couples are getting nervous about what is happening to our youth and how it will affect their future. It seems as if a war has broken out, and our youth is under attack. At present, yeshivas are at a loss about what to do and have a “zero tolerance” approach to dealing with the problem. Once the child is asked to leave the yeshiva he/she will find it difficult to gain entrance to another. This will start a cycle of rejection, anger, rebellion and finally teenage depression – an “at risk” cycle that our sages were quite aware of, and avoided at all costs

Many years ago, I received a phone call from a Rosh Yeshiva in Brooklyn who stated that he needed my help with one of his staff members, who had once been a student of his. I was working for an agency called The Federation Employment and Guidance Service that provided career testing and guidance. As we spoke, he explained that this rebbe’s class was just completely out of control. He continued to tell me that the rebbe’s wife was having a hard time dealing with all this stress and wanted a divorce. Perhaps being a rebbe was just not for him. He then told me that he had contacted a contractor that he knew who would be willing to hire this young man as an apprentice installing ceramic tiles. “If you feel that he has the potential to do the job, I will make the call” he said, “but first I have a confession to make. In yeshiva there was always a feeling of defeat, on the part of the rebbe, with the boys who were not ‘into’ learning. These boys were different from the rest. So, rather than expel them, we separated them and gave them their own rebbe to work with. As the years went by, these boys graduated and married. Some went to college, others went into business and became very productive in the community. The point is that I was wrong about them! The very same boys we wanted out became the baal-batim of today! They not only support us, but they also support several other yeshivas!” I did not dare interrupt him as he spoke, but I knew he was talking about the bum class-a system class that saved hundreds of youth from becoming teenagers at risk. The Vilna Gaon cites a talmudic passage on the famous pasuk, “educate each child according to his ability.” It was a time in history when the yeshiva world ruled with their heart and followed the words of the Vilna Gaon. It seemed as if the yeshivas gave over the responsibility of the bum class to the yetzer hara, who just took control and changed the name to teens at risk. A week later, I met with the young man, as we reviewed his test scores. He seemed to have some disabilities, but they were manageable. But with time and patience he could learn the tile business. Today, this very same rebbe has his own tile business and helps support the yeshiva in every way.

Because this rosh yeshiva followed the words of the Vilna Gaon and put the children’s priorities even before his very own, he was zoche to save hundred’s of boys from becoming teens at risk, and in turn keep shalom bayis within their homes.

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 CPCMoishe@aol.com.

Starting All Over

Wednesday, July 16th, 2003

When searching for a partner in marriage we are often attracted to people who are different than we are. Sometimes the very same qualities we find charming and exciting are the ones we find ourselves trying to change after marriage. Rather than understand, accept and appreciate our partners for who they are, we turn the differences into the source of our frustration, irritation and dissatisfaction. Many couples try to change their partners to be more like themselves. These couples sincerely want things to be better between them, but because they don’t understand the problem they can’t figure out how to fix it. They start criticizing, complaining and blaming each other. This blame is the downfall for most couples. Instead of negotiating, they demand change. But without counseling this change is not always for the better.

About one third of the divorced people who re-marry tend to repeat and to carry over the same or more complicated personality and relationship problems into their second marriage. When I council couples who are divorced and now want to get married we start all over, once the couple understands each other’s personality type they can have more compassion and support for who they are and nurture the qualities that the other partner values, not just the ones that they value.

The curriculum I use is the same as in Pre-Marital Counseling. We cover twenty-one topics in seven sessions. But the difference is that each person comes into the marriage with wounded pride, and a lot of pain. Loyalty issues may arise for the children since they often hope secretly that mommy and tati will get back together again. As bad as the home situation was, many of these children still grieve for the previous family structure.

The role of the Pre-Marital Counselor is crucial. The complications of couple conflict are such that distortion of perception by one or both prospective mates can often affect the marriage. As the couple will start all over, Pre-Marital Counseling will hopefully change harmful habits, relieve emotional stress, clarify issues and develop insights which will result in personal and spiritual growth so that the couple can once again achieve shalom bayis, and a build a makom kodesh.

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.

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 CPCMoishe@aol.com.

Choosing Your Mate

Wednesday, June 18th, 2003

Choosing a life partner is possibly the most compli­cated process of a lifetime. In this article, we will try to define, understand and explain how we choose a part­ner. To do so, we need to have some understanding and awareness of the dynamics that bring a man and a woman towards marriage. It starts with the word attraction.

Hashem sends a powerful homing device in search of a mate. Partners choose each other on the basis of their potential to complement each other, depending on how much growth or change is needed. The process of attraction takes place on three separate levels: 1. At­tachment Stage, 2. Conflict Stage, 3. Healing Stage.

Every relationship involves an integration between many levels. Each level is comprised of a complex bal­ance of needs, growth and potential for change. These levels can separate, integrate or enmesh as the couple works on unresolved issues of the past.

Depending on a person’s midos (character traits), Hashem determines how many levels will be used to stimulate growth, change and healing.

Level One: The Attachment Stage. This attachment occurs on a conscious, external level. Couples are attracted to each other on the basis of similarities such as religion, education, physical criteria and social class.

Level Two: The Conflict Stage. This is a deeper level, as the couple come to terms with the differences between them. The qualities that we find charming and exciting during our engagement can become, over time, the chief source of our frustration and dissatisfaction. Rather than understand, accept and appreciate our partner’s differences, we resist by trying to change our partners and make them more like us! Many of us do this by complaining and criticizing our partner’s char­acteristics and natural tendencies.

Level Three: The Healing Stage. The couple ar­rives at an integrative stage. Many of the dynamics of this stage happen at a deep, unconscious level. Couples in some way choose each other on the basis of their potential to induce change and heal unresolved issues of their pasts. At the healing stage, they begin to accept each other as they really are. This acceptance is deeply emotionally healing.

Partners frequently look to the marriage relation­ship to fulfill a void in their life, and to provide a caring and loving environment. If the marriage goes in the right direction, it can indeed provide a powerful healing force of energy in which the two neshamos can grow and heal throughout a lifetime.

If the emotional energy of the couple is positive, they can focus on the present and thus move on to the future. If the emotional energy of the couple is negative, they will stay focused on the past, only to recre­ate and carry over painful memories and emotional wounds into their present relationship.

The physicists were right: energy is never lost, it just changes form. Many of us unconsciously attempt to duplicate the familiar patterns of our childhood. Child­hood patterns, whether positive or negative, are famil­iar, and familiarity brings security and comfort.

Many years ago, I attended a bris in Canarsie, Brooklyn, where the Rav spoke about the conceptual framework for growth. He stated that whenever the To­rah mentions the word “vayehi” (and it was) in the past tense, the results were negative. I spoke to him in. depth regarding this statement, and the Rav said that the To­rah is hinting to us that living in the past can only bring pain and sorrow. The future is where growth and happi­ness lie.

Pre-Marital Counseling can give clients the knowl­edge to understanding their relationships. This frees them to become aware of how their differences and simi­larities complement each other. It provides understand­ing, acceptance and appreciation as positive strategies in achieving shalom bayis.

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 a coun­seling consultant to F.E.G.S. At Risk Center in Brooklyn. Moishe is presently working as a licensed guidance counse for 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 CPCMoishe@aol.com.

Independence Day

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2002

Most married couples face the problem of maintaining both independence in their marriage and a relationship with their parents. Can the partners achieve a degree of detachment and at the same time reassure their parents that they will remain loyal, respectful and affectionate? Can you as partners shift loyalty from your parents to your spouse and leave your childhood with its remembered mixture of pleasure and pains? As hard as the transfer of loyalty may be to achieve at the outer level, it can be even harder to achieve at the psychological level. Your defensive self may lash out at your partner’s attempt to help you set better boundaries with your parents. The wife’s mother maybe very sensitive to the way in which her daughter is treated because the daughter symbolizes herself to some degree. In some cases, she becomes a mother-in-law at the time her own child-rearing career has practically ended. She may perceive that her role of helpfulness may not be needed or appreciated and the failure of her newly acquired son to express gratitude may only enhance her own emotional reaction.

In Pre-Marital Counseling, it becomes obvious that preparation for marriage is a joint process of counseling and instruction; enough counseling to bring understanding and awareness and enough instruction to bring appreciation and acceptance. When a couple realizes that making changes in the parental family in not the purpose, but rather increasing their own understanding and changing their own feelings about perceptions, tension is relieved. With Hashem’s help, the couple will come a long way from total dependence upon parents to a stage of independence; to live a life of self-sufficiency and shalom bayis.

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.

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.

Commitment Phobia

Tuesday, August 21st, 2001

People are not all the same. We have different energy levels, make decisions based on different criteria, and structure our lives in different ways, depending on what makes us most comfortable. But if you’re in a com­mitment-phobic relationship, it’s important that you gain some insight on your partner’s comfort zone and how he/she functions in the world. According to psychologist Carl Jung, people are born with preferences, and how we bal­ance and use these preferences is what makes up a good part of our personality. Most people are balanced between two of these preference types called Judging and Perceiv­ing.

The Judging Types like things to be settled, finish­ed, out of the way, and want the tension off their minds. They are often organizers and planners. Perceiving Types like to keep their options open as long as possible. They have a “let’s wait and see” attitude. To alleviate tension, they may avoid making decisions.

The Commitment-Phobic individual is balanced at 90% perceiving and 10% judging. It’s like having a scale that is tipped over too much to one side. If this should happen, they can often feel trapped by pressure, obliga­tion and commitment. They are frequently likable, adaptable and charming people, always on the lookout for some new adventure or experience. They want their freedom and dislike being controlled. One of the key factors for commitment-phobics is closure. They keep collecting new information rather than drawing conclusions. Only when they have looked at all of the possibili­ties are they likely to settle down and get married.

Baruch Hashem, this past Labor Day was my wed­ding anniversary. When I was single, I thought I would never get married. If it wasn’t for my mother, a”h, I would still be single, even today. At age 31 and almost engaged, I was still looking for excuses to back out. But my mother, who had tremendous insight as to what I was feeling, sat next to me and explained that you have to move on to the next stage in life — a level of growth that can only be obtained through marriage and not to be avoided. You are about to marry a wonderful girl and in all probability, she will be your ezer kenegdo. Hashem has sent her to you so that you can balance the scale back to where it belongs. If your are good to her, you will reach a level of growth that you never thought possible.”

I didn’t understand what my mother was talk­ing about, but I did listen! And she was right. Seven­teen years and three children later, I still wake up in the middle of the night and look at my wife and chil­dren while they’re sleeping. I still can’t believe I’m married! What I did to deserve to have such a good wife and children is beyond me, but I thank Hashem every night for making it happen.

In pre-marital and marital counseling, the aware­ness of type preferences creates the greatest challenge for couples in establishing satisfying relationships and shalom bayis.

Moishe Herskowitz’ M.S., C.S.W., 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 435­7388 or at CPCMoishe@aol.com.

Avoiding Domestic Abuse

Wednesday, June 27th, 2001

The term “domestic abuse” refers to a cycle of de­structive thoughts, feelings and actions that often in­volve power and control over another person through fear and intimidation. The batterers believe they are entitled to control their partners through emotional, eco­nomic and sexual abuse. They often use children to manipulate their spouses. The three cycles of domestic abuse are as follows:

1. The Tension Stage in which the wife denies her anger and believes she can control the situation by withdrawing so not to get her husband angry — because anything can set him off (it’s like walking on egg­shells).

2. The Explosion Stage. He doesn’t understand his anger. He knows his rage is out of control and yet does not want to hurt her.

3. The Honeymoon Stage. The husband is remorseful and fears she will leave him. He says he is sorry and that he loves her. He convinces her that he’s sincere and for that moment he really is — until the cycle starts again!

I was at a wedding many years ago when I noticed that the chassan’s rav, who was also the mesader kedushin, was holding on to his coat the entire time that he was under the chuppah. Except for the groom and myself, no one seemed to notice. After the chuppah was over, the crowd rushed the newlywed couple into a pri­vate room while singing and dancing. I knew the rav, so I stayed behind to ask him a few questions. In a joking, roundabout way, I said, the way you were holding on to your coat, it seemed as if you were ready to leave!”

But the rav wasn’t laughing. He seemed a little upset. He began to explain that he knew the boy for many years. He was a bright boy with many good midos (quali­ties), but when he didn’t get what he wanted, he got angry and could go into an uncontrollable rage, some­thing that he witnessed himself first hand. “I don’t know the kallah very well, but she seems nice. But in a few days, her life will change, unfortunately, not for the better.”

The rav then went on to say, “I had to do some­thing. As the chuppah began, the crowd turned to the kallah walking down the aisle and I turned to chassan and said, “If you don’t promise me right here and now that you will never raise your voice or your hand against this girl, I am taking my coat and walking out!” The chassan was in shock and began to plead with me not to leave. T11 do anything’ he said. But only when he promised, did I decide to stay.”

I’ll always remember that rav’s famous words that night. Now, that’s pre-marital counseling!

A year later, I met the very same rav again. He shared with me a follow up session that he had with that young man. The young man came to visit him in order to thank him. He said to him, You have no idea how many times I wanted to ‘teach my wife a lesson’ and really hurt her! But I stopped myself and remembered what you did and what I promised. Because I stopped myself, I was able to work on my anger and, Baruch Hashem, we have a much better marriage.”

In a private session I had with the rav, he advised me to always see the chassan and kallah together for pre-marital counseling, something I have been doing ever since.

Rabbi Shimshon Pincus, z”l, stated in his lectures on building your own bais hamikdash, When a person recognizes his yechidah (his own deep self) and know­ingly stops himself from his own anger and remains si­lent so as not to hurt the other person, he will merit to see that wonderful light that no creation or angel can ever imagine.”

In Pre-Marital Counseling, prevention is what it’s all about. Old cognitive patterns are replaced with more effective ones. Communication, anger and problem solv­ing are but a few of the 18 topics that are discussed at great length. •

Rabbi Pikus of C0J0 of Flatbush, and leading rabbonim and Torah authorities in the IVY community endorse CPC ­Center for Pre-Marital Counseling.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/avoiding-domestic-abuse/2001/06/27/

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