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November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘youth’

Misunderstanding Anger (Part II)

Friday, July 27th, 2012

In Part I, we discussed how misunderstandings trigger anger and how different people can see the same trigger differently. I wondered if we could identity a common denominator in most disagreements and if so, was it possible we could eliminate teen aggression, couple aggression and arguments between friends, family and peers? Is there a way to bring about fewer altercations, better family unity and understanding between people with less arguments and fighting?

What is your definition of an opinion? Before reading ahead, think for a moment. An opinion is a personal perspective, feeling, belief or desire. A person can try to support that opinion, however, they may base it on unsubstantiated information, in contrast to fact-based beliefs. A fact is something that has really occurred or is actually the case. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability; that is, whether it can be shown to correspond to experience. In other words, a fact is something that can be proven true while an opinion is someone’s feelings about a particular topic.

Opinions are usually very personal. It is based on what I think. That is, my opinion is based on my understanding or misunderstanding, assessment or analysis of a situation. Inasmuch as an argument uses evidence, facts, statistics, testimonials, etc. to persuade the listener, an opinion is a personal response using logic and personal experience and background.

Why is it that people interpret what they hear from others as a personal attack rather than the other person’s opinion? I think its because we have a tendency to be set in our beliefs. We want to believe what we believe, so we take things personally. One easy way to see this in action is to watch when people discuss either religion or politics. People have a difficult time when others disagree with their religious or political opinions because they feel they are “right” and, therefore, the other person must be “wrong.” If I’m right you must be wrong. If you don’t agree with me, then you are challenging my “rightness.” This is just a microcosm of the bigger picture.

The question is: Why can’t we accept another person’s opinions without feeling as if they are challenging us? On a subconscious level, most people really want others to be like themselves, think the way they think and believe what they believe. Of course, most of us will deny this, but through studies and observations it has become clear that this is very often the case. Each of us has an unconscious need to be right. Therefore, too many of us can’t handle daily challenges because we interpret them as personal attacks.

Once a person interprets a situation as a personal slight, he automatically tries to “defend” himself and that leads to a disagreement, argument and fight. This is the beginning of conflicts, family feuds and disagreements of various degrees.

The natural response to a challenge or angry response is what I call the “anger circle.” That is, anger is so contagious that if one senses that another person is angry with them, the natural reaction is for them to get angry with that person. Look around and observe this for yourself. Watch how anger leads to more anger. For example: A teenager is late coming home for curfew; his mother is waiting at the door. She is upset and angry because he is late again. When the teen comes in the door, how does he react to that anger – he gets angry. Why? She didn’t do anything to him. The answer is simple: anger is contagious. In fact, when the son gets angry all that happens is that the situation escalates.

Lately I have been challenging some of my anger management clients with the following statement: “There is no such thing as emotions.” Of course, when I say this they think their therapist has finally lost it. Their comments are usually along the lines of, “What do you mean there is no such thing as emotions!! My anger, my depression, my love, my anxiety! Ed, are you crazy. Of course there are emotions!” At that point I ask them to let me finish my sentence, “there is no such thing as emotions – without thoughts.” This is a critical statement, one that must be fully understood. All emotions are derived from the brain, from our interpretation of events, comments or situations. For example, if someone tells you that you are the most special person in the world, that they love you dearly, their life would not be the same without you, how would that make you feel? Most of us would feel cared for, appreciated, happy and so forth. However, if those same words of flattery were in a language you did not understand, you would not have those same wonderful feelings. In fact, you would probably have no feeling whatsoever. That is because the brain must translate, analyze and process what was said into thought and then the feelings come from that. This is a basic example of “there is no such thing as emotions – without thought.” Our thoughts lead to our feeling, which, by the way, lead to our actions and behaviours.

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Five: A Husband For Ruchel

Monday, July 16th, 2012

The next morning, Hevedke was waiting out on the road when Tevye and his Zionist entourage took up their journey. The two men stared at one another in silence.

“He has more guts than I thought,” Tevye brooded, giving the reins of the wagon a whip.

Hava was hoping that her father would give Hevedke a chance to prove his sincerity, but there was no sign of conciliation in her father’s angry expression. Hava herself was confused. Her heart was torn between a man she still loved, and the realization that the bond between them could never be sanctified as long as he belonged to the tormentors of her people. It wasn’t enough that Hevedke was ashamed of the evil decrees of the Czar. Unless he tore up all ties to his religion and his past, he would always remain one of them. Even if he were to fast a hundred days to prove his love for Hava, that would not be enough. Hava knew that he loved her. He had to prove he loved God by taking on the yoke of her people. Though Hava felt compassion and pity for Hevedke, she didn’t plead with her father to accept him into the fold. If she had listened to her parents in the first place, the whole painful situation would never have occurred. Now she wanted to make amends for the breach she had rent in the family. She wanted to be faithful to her father. She wanted to show her mother in Heaven that she was sorry for the pain she had caused. So sitting beside her father as their wagon drove down the road, Hava fought off her desire to gaze at the man she had lived with only a short time before. She stared forward at the future as if Hevedke did not exist, as if they had never crossed paths, trusting that one way or the other, God would restore peace to her torn, aching heart.

That evening they reached the Jewish shtetl of Branosk. The ultra-religious community was smaller than the Jewish community of Anatevka, but the sights, sounds, and smells were the same. The same wooden porches, tiled roofs, and shutters. The same sagging, weathered barns which stood erect by a miracle. The same aroma of horses, chickens, and soups. The same beards and black skullcaps on the men, and kerchiefs and shawls on the women. Even the fiery red sunset had been stolen from Anatevka and pasted over the Branosk forest.

The villagers rushed out of their houses when they heard that pioneers on the way to the Promised Land had arrived in the shtetl. Children and teenagers crowded around Tevye’s wagon. They all wore the caps and long curling peyes sidelocks which distinguished the Branosk community. Apparently, they had seen other Zionists, but the sight of Tevye, a bearded, God fearing Jew among them, was a novelty to be sure. Ben Zion jumped up on a porch and tried to deliver a spirited harangue, inviting the townspeople to throw off the yoke of the Russians and join them in rebuilding the ancient Jewish homeland, but he only drew heckles and a rotten tomato. Tevye and his daughters attracted a far larger crowd.

Where was he going, they wanted to know? To Eretz Yisrael, he answered, the Land of Israel. With the heretics, they asked? Tevye said that by accident they were traveling together, for safety along the way. But, Tevye assured them, his family was headed for a settlement more religious than the city of Vilna – in God’s Chosen Land. What could be better than that? For hadn’t they heard? The great Baron Rothschild, may he live several lifetimes, was building “frum,” God fearing communities throughout the Holy Land. Everyone who came got a villa and acres of orchards bursting with olives, pomegranates, fig trees, and dates.

People bombarded Tevye with questions. He answered with authority, as if he truly knew, as if he were the Baron’s agent, auctioning off parcels of land. When a question came his way for which he did not have an answer, he responded with a verse or two of Torah. One thing was clear – the expulsion which had hit Anatevka was sure to reach Branosk. Surely they had heard that the Czar’s Cossacks had been thundering throughout Russia, slaughtering thousands of Jews. Now was the time to flee for their lives. Now was the time to stop praying for God to take them to Zion, and let their feet do the talking instead.

Climbing to the Top: A Story of Strength

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

A few years ago, Shalom was wandering the streets of Israel after he was thrown out of his high school for refusing to come to class.  Now – only four years later – Shalom is completing a commander’s course is an elite unit of the Israel Defense Forces and already has dreams to study engineering after he finishes officer’s school. What can Shalom’s complete turn-around - from high school dropout to motivated and disciplined IDF commander – be attributed to?

The answer can be found about a thirty minute drive from Jerusalem, in a special center called “Menifa.”

Menifa- Leverage for Life is a nonprofit organization that was founded in Israel in 2004. The mission of the organization is to prevent at-risk youth from dropping out of high school and to reintegrate detached youth into normative frameworks. Menifa establishes learning centers in existing high schools for teens who are in acute danger of dropping out of school and for those who have already detached from the educational system.  These centers are alternative full-time learning programs for the struggling teens.  Since its establishment, Menifa has operated 130 such programs around Israel.

One of Menifa’s centers lies on a farm approximately thirty minutes away from Jerusalem.  This center accepts boys between the ages of fourteen and eighteen.  Most of them come from broken homes or from families who are in financial straits.  The boys in this program have been involved in either alcohol or drug abuse or other destructive behaviors.  Shalom is one of the boys who came to this center after having no other place to turn to.

Shalom struggled in a regular high school framework.  He was kicked out of school in the 11th grade and he did not know where he would spend the next year, until he received a call from a man named Ariel who introduced himself from the organization Menifa.  Ariel invited Shalom to meet him and learn more about Menifa.

“It turned out to be my best year of school,” Shalom explains. “The staff gave us the freedom to choose what we wanted to learn and how and when. We wanted to come out of choice and out of a desire to take responsibility.”

In addition to the regular academic courses that they are offered, the boys have daily activities that provide them with social and emotional reinforcement and help build their life skills. The boys also clean the center every day and prepare lunch as a group in the kitchen. These group activities help instill in the boys a sense of teamwork and responsibility for oneself and others.

The youth are drawn to the center because of its unique approach that places an emphasis on the staff-student connection and on interpersonal relationships. Every morning, the center’s life coach, Yaniv greets each boy with a giant bear hug, bringing an instant smile to their faces. He calls the boys each morning to wake them up and to make sure they come to the center. He also makes house calls where he visits the boys and meets with their parents to help strengthen the parent-child relationship.

The relationships that the students form with the staff play an important role in their rehabilitation and return to normative functioning. “One of the most powerful experiences for me was the many intimate conversations I had with Ariel [the center’s coordinator] and my life coach from Menifa,” Shalom explains.  “I spoke to them about issues that were bothering me in my life.  I always felt comfortable speaking with them at eye level, without fear that they would react negatively.”

“Before the end of the school year, I had much hesitation whether I should enlist in the IDF immediately or first enroll in a pre-military preparatory academy,” Shalom continues.  “After many deep conversations with Ariel, I decided to enroll in a preparatory academy with two other friends from Menifa.  I believe this was the most important decision I ever made in my life and I have no doubt that Menifa led me to this choice,” he says.

Israel to Support New Immigrant College Students

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Israel’s government has budgeted more than $10 million to provide college scholarships and Hebrew language schools to new immigrants.

The Cabinet decision Sunday to continue to support financially the Immigrant Absorption Ministry Student Authority is “ensuring the continuation of its joint projects with the Jewish Agency which, due to budgetary constraints, faced uncertain futures,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office

The money will be made available immediately “so as not to harm registration and the start of the academic year for immigrant students,” the statement said.

In recent years, the student authority has assisted approximately 6,500 students a year, one-third of whom are from Ethiopia, and it is “a significant factor in the decision of young people who are eligible to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return.”

Under the decision, the government will also support some 90 Hebrew language schools, and four youth villages for youth at risk operated by the Education Ministry.

The Jewish Agency for Israel praised the decision, saying it would allow the Jewish Agency to concentrate on increasing and encouraging aliyah while the government “will assume responsibility for the olim from the moment they arrive in Israel.”

Israeli Olympic Team Announced

Monday, June 25th, 2012

The Olympic Committee of Israel approved its list of 36 athletes to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on Sunday.

A final spot will be reserved for a youth ticket to be earned pending the outcome of the European Athletics Championships.

Male Representatives of Israel are Zohar Zemiro for Marathon, Misha Zilberman for Singles Badminton, Alexander Shatilov and Felix Aronovich for Artisitic Individual All-around Gymnastics, Golan Pollack, Ioseb Palelashvili and Ariel Zeevi for Judo, Shahar Zubari for Sailboard, Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela for  470 Sailing, Sergy Rikhter for 10 meter rifle shooting, and Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or, Imri Ganiel, Yonatan Kopelev, Gal Nevo and Yakov-Yan Toumarking for  Swimming races,

Female Representatives of Israel are Jillian Schwartz for Pole vault, Valeria Maksiuta for Artisitic Individual All-around Gymnastics, Neta Rivkin for Rhythmic Individual All-around Gymnastics, Alice Schlesinger for  Judo, Lee Korzits for Sailboard, Nufar Edelman for Laser Radial Sailing, Vered Buskila and Gil Cohen for 470 Sailing, Amit Ivry for Swimming races, Anastasia Gloushkov and Inna Yoffe for Synchronized Swimming, and Shahar Peer for Singles Tennis.

Keeping Our Children Safe

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

How do we teach our children to keep themselves safe from the adult predators in our midst? Are our schools teaching them what they need to know? Are parents teaching our youth what they need to know? Does your child feel safe enough to approach you if their personal space is being invaded? How do you know?

Parents and Educators:
How do you teach the skills needed?

Most abusers are not what we picture in our minds. In other words they are not the repulsive dirty man sitting on a park bench. In fact, most abusers are youths themselves.

More parents and schools need to teach children these basics. Teach your children to say, NO, GO, and TELL you or another parent/parental figure when other children or an adult does something that they know is wrong – or even just feels not right. Unfortunately, most parents admit to not speaking to their children about these issues. I know it is uncomfortable for some, but there are ways parents can speak to their children about staying safe from abuse, without compromising their morality.

The secondary – and more devastating – trauma that children (and later adults) have with sexual abuse is that they feel that they cannot tell anyone, or if they do tell someone, their reports will be discounted. If more children would have the courage and self esteem to speak out, and more parents and educators would have the ability to trust and listen to children when they talk, our world, their world, would be a safer one.

Remember: Children with one or more of the following attributes have an increased risk of being abused:

* Good at keeping secrets. * Often not believed by adults. * Children with poor social skills. * Children with few friends. * Children who crave adult attention.

Some basic tips on how to teach your children to be safe:

* Invite your children to speak to you about anything they would like. You do not have to force a child to speak to you; the invitation is the most important part of the message. Children need to know that they can come to you if they need to. A child who feels comfortable sharing uncomfortable conversations with his or her parents has a much lower risk of suffering the trauma of abuse and the secondary trauma of feeling as if he or she is at fault and/or cannot share experiences with others.

* Ensure that your children know that they can inform you if something or someone makes them feel uncomfortable.

* Teach them that they can share this with you even if the person is a brother, uncle, aunt, cousin, teacher, babysitters, stranger, or family friend.

* Children need to be taught this at a young age (4-8).

* Do not tell children that if anything ever happens something bad will happen to the person who did it. First, you cannot guarantee that. Second, very often, it is someone with who they have a close relationship and may want to protect.

* Model themes related to safety so that your children can become aware if others are violating their rights. These include modeling healthy respect of physical and emotional boundaries; modeling the respect of privacy amongst family members within the home; and modeling the ability to talk about sensitive feelings in an appropriate manner.

* If you know of a child who often seeks close relationships with adults, find him/her a mentor, before he finds his own (or the adult finds him).

It’s My Opinion: Protecting Our Children

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary recently testified in a court hearing against ex-Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The testimony he gave before the jury was sickening on two counts: He described witnessing the alleged details of a sexual assault on a minor child and he admitted he was not vigilant in exposing what he saw. The incident, according to McQueary, took place over ten years ago.

Sandusky had been a greatly admired man. He headed a popular youth charity that funded camps and projects focused on at-risk kids. The coach was a stellar figure in the community.

Despite stunning testimony by McQueary and three alleged victims, Sandusky denies the charges. He is accused of abusing 10 minor children over a 15-year span. He is charged with 52 criminal counts involving these alleged assaults.

McQueary said he went to head football coach Joe Paterno the day after witnessing the incident and to Penn State officials a week later. He spoke of being vague and non-explicate when explaining the incident.

“Mind your own business” has become a catch phrase of contemporary culture. We all have our own troubles. We all have our own worries. We hesitate adding to them.

The Jewish nation has another take on the issue. The Torah admonishes that we cannot “stand idly by.”

Most educators and youth leaders are fine and dedicated individuals who care about the youngsters in their charge. The impact that they have on young lives can be incredibly positive.

A minority, unfortunately, gravitate to children for other reasons. Their impact is always devastating.

We are now in the more relaxed summer season. Children’s activities are less structured. Sleepovers, field trips and camp experiences are the standard. Parents, grandparents and administrators need to be especially vigilant.

Let your children know they can and should go to you with anything that makes them uncomfortable. Let your children know they can say “no” even to an authority figure. Keep the door of communication wide open.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/south-florida/its-my-opinion-protecting-our-children/2012/06/21/

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