April 12, 2024
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NEFESH and Touro Co-Host Continuing Education Conference

New York—Building trusting relationships with empathy and acceptance is the focus of a special continuing education conference to be held on May 7. The conference will be hosted by NEFESH International, the network of Orthodox mental health professionals, and Touro College Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) is a sponsor.

The Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald z”l Memorial Conference will be held at Young Israel of Staten Island, 835 Forest Hill Rd., Staten Island, New York. Registration begins at 8:15 a.m. with the program starting at 9:15 a.m. and ending at 5:45 p.m. A siyum lunch is included.

Authorities in the fields of psychology, social work, education and renowned rabbis from the Orthodox community will give presentations and lead discussions on the most recent research and treatment modalities in such areas as empathy and acceptance, trauma/PTSD, addiction and divorce.

The focus of the day of learning will be the unique work of Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald, a well-known educator and rabbi in the Orthodox community who passed away in January 2016. Rabbi Greenwald impacted the lives of thousands of Jewish youth through the numerous institutions he founded as well as his innovative programming.

‘Each Human Possesses the Divine Spark’

Rabbi Moshe Krupka, executive vice president of Touro College and University System, noted: “Rabbi Greenwald was a towering figure. He was known as an activist for change, an expert on international affairs, a master educator, a mentor for teenagers in crisis and the beloved founding director of Camp Sternberg. Rabbi Greenwald was a master storyteller. Like the rabbis of the Talmud, he used stories to show that each human being possesses the Divine spark and is worthy of dignity and respect.”

He added, “The Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald Memorial Conference reflects this orientation of the uniqueness of the individual in counseling and promotion of well-being.”

Miriam Turk, LCSW, outreach liaison and recruitment director of the Jewish community for the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work and executive director of NEFESH International, will moderate a panel specifically focusing on the unique work of Rabbi Greenwald.

At the panel, titled “Collaborations With the Rabbi: Rich Clinical Lessons Learned,” expert psychologists, social workers and Jewish communal leaders including Hindie M. Klein, PsyD, Faye Wilbur, LCSW-R, and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, founder and director of Ohr Naava Women’s Torah Center and Bnot Chaya Academy, will discuss the distinctive approaches that shaped much of Rabbi Greenwald’s life’s work.

An expert from the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work, Nancy Gallina, Ph.D., LCSW, will present on empathy and acceptance as hallmarks of meaningful relationships in a program titled “How About the Three Dimensions to Empathy and Acceptance?”

“As professionals, these seemingly elementary ideas are learned early on; however, the critical nature of their existence is often overlooked,” said Dr. Gallina, senior associate dean and a national expert on cutting-edge psychological treatments.

Renowned psychologist David Pelcovitz, Ph.D., will address recent research and clinical insights regarding multiple contributors to empathy using biological, familial and social dynamics that have led to changes in the ability to deeply connect to others. Other sessions will cover treatment of co-occurring trauma/PTSD and addiction, and helping children and parents cope with divorce.

A discussion titled “Torah and Psychology: Towards a Harmonious Tension” with Yitzi Horowitz, LCSW, and Rav Moshe Tzvi Weinberg, will address the common themes shared by Torah and the modern psychological concept of what it means to be human. For example, questions on the psychological benefit of faith as defined by the Torah and whether God cares about people’s psychological experiences will be explored.

After lunch, psychotherapist Eliyohu Wolff, LCSW, and Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, noted author and son of Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald, will lead a panel titled “Compete-Deplete: The Seeking of Success in a Cultural Hero System.”

For more information and to register for the conference, visit the NEFESH International website at https://nefesh.org/register/building-trusting-relationships-with-empathy-and-acceptance.

 

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