Dr. Rona Novick: How Educators Can Arm Students With Hope in an Increasingly Dangerous World

On my first day as Dean of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education, three innocent Israeli victims of terrorism – teenagers – were laid to rest. The unity of the past weeks and the pain and sheer terror of the past few days beg consideration: are there any lessons here regarding what educators should be teaching their students?

Dr. Rona Novick

Dr. Rona Novick, dean of YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education

We are not the first generation, and I fear we will not be the last, that needs to teach children about danger and safety. Difficult lessons about a world where even children who do no wrong become ill, and where there are cruel adults and children who can and will hurt other children have been and will continue to be taught. Such lessons require delicate balance. If we err on the side of lollipops and sunshine, we lose credibility as trustworthy and knowledgeable adults when terror or trauma strikes. If we open children’s eyes wide to the doom, gloom and ever-present dangers, we risk raising a generation of anxious, terrified citizens.

Whether it is the discomfort of modulating between opposite poles of all is good, and the world is evil, or the fact that when we cannot promise safety, it seems providing any guidance or support is futile, adults may avoid these tough lessons.

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New Course Prepares Psychology Students to Evaluate and Work With Asylum Seekers

The threat of persecution due to one’s religious or political beliefs may be unimaginable to most United States citizens, but for many people abroad, that threat is real and frightening, causing them to flee and seek refuge elsewhere.

Dr. Bill Sultan

Dr. Bill Salton

Last year, two professors at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Dr. Bill Salton and Dr. Carl Auerbach, began researching the topic of asylum after a colleague, Dr. Barbara Eisold, suggested that asylum seekers be evaluated at the school’s Max and Celia Parnes Family Psychological and Psychoeducational Services Clinic. They brought this suggestion to Dr. Lawrence Siegel, dean of Ferkauf, and to Dr. Lata McGinn, associate professor of psychology and director of the clinical psychology program, who offered their support for the project.

Salton, associate clinical professor of psychology and clinical director of the Parnes Clinic, and Auerbach, professor of psychology, soon enrolled in intensive training sessions designed to qualify them as evaluators. They also enlisted the participation of their students, leading to the creation of a class devoted solely to training students in this specialized field.

The inaugural course, “Working With Asylum Seekers,” was offered last spring and taught students how to psychologically evaluate asylum seekers and write reports that would be presented in court on their behalf.

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Robert Grad and Naomi Gofine to Participate in Yachad’s Inaugural Jewish Communal Leadership Fellowship

Two recent Yeshiva  University graduates, Robert Grad ’14YC and Naomi Gofine ’14S, have been selected to serve as one of three fellows in Yachad’s inaugural Jewish Communal Leadership Fellowship program.

Robert Grad

Robert Grad

Yachad, the flagship program of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities, provides social, educational and recreational programs for individuals with learning, developmental and physical disabilities with the goal of their inclusion in the Jewish community. The Fellows will function as full members of Yachad’s staff, working out of its national headquarters in Lower Manhattan with mentors who will provide integrated training and experiential opportunities to help the Fellows acquire proficiency in disability culture and Jewish organizational leadership.

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Jewish and Psychological Perspectives for Helping Children, Adolescents, as well as Adults, to Cope with Loss and Terror

It is with deep sadness and profound outrage that we learned of the murders of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach. For the past few weeks, the lives of these boys, and the incredible faith of their families, have made an enduring impact upon each and every one of us, and upon the entire Jewish people.3-boys-memory Our devotion to Tefilah and unified sense of “Am Yisrael” was palpable throughout our community. Families joined together in prayer, lighting additional candles for Shabbat, posting signs on our lawns, and flooding social media with a movement to raise global awareness of their plight. We embraced the families of the boys as heroes of our faith, and marveled at the remarkable strength they maintained and provided to the entire Jewish people. They spoke to the heart and transcended all divisions within our people that only weeks ago seemed entrenched as part of Jewish life.

There are no words to truly capture the pain of our nation’s loss. Yet, our children will turn to us for guidance and understanding regarding the emotional and spiritual challenges that arise in such a devastating experience. Please find a number of resources compiled by Yeshiva University from both internal sources, and from Chai Lifeline that provide strategies and insights in addressing these circumstances with your children.

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Yeshiva College Professor Wins $34,500 Grant for Project that Tackles the Inherent Value of Immortality—Or Lack Thereof

20140617_aaron_segal_19What’s so great about living forever?

It may seem like a no-brainer, but Dr. Aaron Segal, assistant professor of philosophy at Yeshiva University’s Yeshiva College, isn’t convinced. While the pros and cons of immortality have been heatedly debated in the philosophical community for thousands of years—If we could extend our lives indefinitely, should we? If living is good, is living longer better?—the qualities that make immortality desirable haven’t been clearly defined.

“The arguments that have been offered are usually arguments that attempt to show that there is something wrong or bad about us being immortal, like we would be terminally bored or not able to value what makes life meaningful,” said Segal. But he believes there is a more basic question philosophers have yet to answer: What would make immortal life so great in and of itself that couldn’t be achieved, at least in theory, during a more limited lifetime?

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Awards Honor Dedicated Alumni, Staff and Employer Liaisons

The Yeshiva University Career Center has announced the 2013-2014 recipients of its annual Partners of the Year Awards.

Bestowed in three areas, the awards highlight the efforts of alumni, faculty and staff, and employer liaisons to help students and new graduates further their careers. “The Career Center Partners have all, in their own ways and through their efforts and collaboration with us, contributed to the growth and success of our YU students in the area of career development,” said Marc Goldman, executive director of the Career Center. “Through education, advice, and access to opportunities, these partners have gone above and beyond to frequently work with the Career Center to enhance its efforts for YU students pursuing employment and/or graduate and professional school options.”

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Ninth Annual Service Learning Program to Empower 300 Israeli Youth, Receive Support From Local Municipalities

The Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future’s (CJF) Counterpoint Israel Program, an immersive service-learning initiative that aims to empower the next generation of Israeli youth via an exciting, Jewish values-driven summer camp experience, has been retooled to maximize manpower efficiency and its impact on the Israeli communities it serves.

COunterpoint

YU students will help empower some 300 underprivileged youth throughout Israel this summer as part of the Counterpoint program.

Over the last several years, undergraduate students from Yeshiva University ran four separate summer camps in the cities of Arad, Dimona, Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi concurrently. Basing itself on the North American Jewish camping system, this year’s program will offer two separate camp sessions, making it possible for YU students to focus their undivided attention and complete creativity on two cities at a time.

The YU students, natives of North America, Colombia and Chile, will run camps in Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi from June 29 – July 10 before relocating to Dimona and Arad for the second session, scheduled for July 13 – 24.

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Newly Graduated, Yeshiva University Alumni Find Career, Graduate School Success  

job fair 2As undergraduates, Yeshiva University students learn to balance a rich and vibrant range of academic, extracurricular and spiritual pursuits, dedicating themselves to rigorous Torah and secular study while discovering their passions, championing their beliefs and forming lasting friendships. So it’s no surprise that after commencement, they hit the ground running: more than 90 percent of YU graduates were employed, in graduate school, or both within 6 months of graduation, according to the most recent survey by YU’s Career Center.

“The fact that for the last six years, we’ve been at or above that 90 percent rate is impressive,” said Marc Goldman, executive director of the Career Center. “In particular, full time employment has risen even higher than in past years, with more than 85 percent of those employed working in full time positions—that number rises to more than 90 percent when you look at those who aren’t also in graduate school.”

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In recent days, you have likely seen various articles about Yeshiva University’s investment performance, debt,  and endowment. We stated we will not engage with the media further in this regard, but we believe it is important that you, as critical partners in Yeshiva’s present and future, know some key facts about Yeshiva’s financial situation, investment performance and policies.

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Jewish Educational Leadership and Innovation Progam Will Use Blended Learning Techniques to Reach More Educators

Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration will soon be offering a new doctoral degree in Jewish Educational Leadership and Innovation. Slated to begin in the fall, the program will combine virtual learning opportunities with live sessions periodically throughout the year and will replace Azrieli’s existing doctoral degree in Jewish Education and Administration.

Dr. Rona Novick

Dr. Rona Novick, incoming dean at Azrieli

While Azrieli’s current program featured a more traditional model of 14-week semesters and three-credit courses and was accessible only for those living locally, the new program aims to reach a broader group of educators beyond the New York area, through blended learning techniques and a more hands-on approach to learning.

“Azrieli’s and YU’s mission is not limited to the New York geographic region, and we aim to serve Jewish day schools in New York and beyond,” said Dr. Rona Novick, director of the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Doctoral Program and incoming dean of Azrieli, effective July 1. “The idea of a day school leader having to leave their community to access our resources is not ideal. In the past, we’ve had inquiries from people all over the globe and had to turn them away. We want this program to be available to a wider range of educators and communities.”

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