Wurzweiler School of Social Work Celebrates Dr. Joyce Brenner’s 27 Years of Service to its Block Program

Upon her retirement, Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work celebrated Dr. Joyce Brenner’s more than 27 years of service to its Block Program in Israel by naming her the first recipient of its Distinguished Alumni Award at the Block Program Commencement on July 23.

2014 WSSW Block Program Commencement

Dr. Joyce Brenner delivered the keynote address at this year’s Block Program Commencement

“Dr. Brenner has literally been a part of Wurzweiler from its beginnings in 1957, entering our Masters of Social Work program in 1962,” said Dr. Carmen Ortiz Hendricks, Dorothy and David Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler. “She has single-handedly developed and strengthened the relationship between Wurzweiler and the Block Israeli Field Work Program for 27 years. She is the face of Wurzweiler in Israel and a respected leader of the social work profession as well. Dr. Brenner has earned the Distinguished Alumni Award, as she leaves a legacy of hundreds of professional social workers serving the people of Israel and the U.S.”

Brenner, who most recently served as the director of the Block Program in Israel, earned her master’s degree in social work from Wurzweiler 50 years ago, in 1964, and a doctorate in the field there as well in 1983. She moved to Israel in 1976, where she advocated for women’s rights and became a founding member of the Counseling Center for Women, feminist therapy centers in Ramat Gan and Jerusalem. Brenner was also appointed the first Reform representative to the Religious Affairs Council in Netanya in 1997, catalyzing changes in religious pluralism in Israel.

Dean Carmen Ortiz Hendricks, left, and Dr. Joyce Brenner

Dean Carmen Ortiz Hendricks, left, and Dr. Joyce Brenner

“Joyce has been a wonderful role model, mentor and friend,” said Raesa Kaiteris, associate director of field education at the Block Program. “Year after year I’ve come to see and appreciate the work she does with our Block students, how much she cares about them and how much they’ve come to love and respect her. The social work practice community in Israel is far richer for her dedication to training the next generation of social workers.”

Brenner delivered the keynote address at this year’s Block Program Commencement, an especially moving moment because her daughter, Neeva Brenner Kleiman, was among the new graduates. The University also celebrated her career at a gathering in her honor on July 21 that was attended by more than 50 students, alumni, faculty and staff.

“My professional journey has been an amazing and exciting adventure,” said Brenner. “I have had great satisfaction from impacting on students and the profession.”