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Monday, September 26, 2022
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Though ubiquitous for centuries, divorce today has increased significantly in the Orthodox community. In today’s times, almost everyone knows someone affected by divorce. Given this new reality, OHEL believes there is an important need to better educate the wider community about the impact of divorce, and the specific roles that the wider community, rabbis, community leaders, and educators can play to help ensure that both parents of divorce, and children of divorce can thrive.

Promoting Community Awareness

It is this belief that drew OHEL to make the groundbreaking new video, “Rising from Divorce” a film for all members of the community. OHEL believed that a video could powerfully address the issue of divorce and its effects on divorced parents and children from a variety of perspectives: parents, professionals, educators, Rabbis, community leaders, and adult children of divorce. We believed that it would resonate and be meaningful for everyone and very importantly, serve as a community call to action.

What Question Did We Want To Address?

Our focus was the “day after” after divorce. This would not be a video that addressed why couples get divorced. Rather, we were interested in hearing about what it was like after the divorce. What happens to the children and parents post-divorce? How are parents treated—by their ex-spouses, by family, friends, children’s teachers, and the neighbor next door? How are the children treated—by their parents, extended family, neighborhood or school friends, or teachers? We also wanted this to be a piece that would address not only what is happening, but also what should be happening; a video that would provide insight, help and practical guidance.

Reaching Out To Potential Participants

We reached out to the community, informing divorced individuals of this video and inviting participants to share their experiences, insights, and advice. What message did they have for the community? We also reached out to adult children of divorce over the age of 18. How had they been treated by their parents, family, friends, and teachers? What was their message to the community? Very quickly, we received an outpouring of responses.

Divorced individuals from across the United States and Canada came forward stating that they would be happy to be part of this project. It was interesting to note the tremendous religious diversity of the respondents—from Chasidic to Modern Orthodox. Though both men and women responded, about 90% of the respondents were women. We would have very much liked for there to be a more equal representation of men and women, but fewer men volunteered.

Though we did not interview any young children, we empowered their self-expression through an anonymous online questionnaire. The responses were direct, poignant and at times heart wrenching.

The other individuals interviewed included rabbis, educators, clinicians and community leaders. Each offered unique perspectives on divorce and the effects on both the parents and the children. Moreover, they spoke about what is needed and how we as individuals and as a community must work together to offer support to those affected by the consequences of divorce.

Who Should Watch This Video?

As more and more individuals and children are affected by divorce, the question arises as to the community’s role and responsibility to divorced parents and children in need. Rabbis, Educators, Community Leaders and the community at large are being faced with the challenging task of how best to sensitively respond to those affected by divorce. What responsibility do we have to our future generation? The answer is in US—in all of us.

Everyone has a responsibility to reach out, guide, support and help parents and children of divorce.

Teaneck Screening and Panel Discussion Sunday April 26th

OHEL is launching the new video in screenings in Brooklyn, New York, Teaneck, New Jersey, and Long Island. The screenings will be accompanied by panel discussions including local Rabbis, clinicians and educators.

The Teaneck screening is taking place on Sunday April 26th at 7pm at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun. The screening of the 35 minute film will be accompanied by a panel discussion with Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Rav of Congregation Bnai Yeshrun, Dr. Mark Banschick noted Child Psychiatrist, Dr. Hindie M. Klein OHEL Director of Clinical Projects, Rochel Chafetz noted Educator and Rabbi Jeremy Donath OHEL New Jersey Outreach Coordinator.

They say it takes a village. Indeed, this is our mission: to engage ALL members of our community as comrades in arms, advocating for the welfare of our families.

By Hindie M. Klein, PsyD, OHEL Director of Clinical Projects

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