Yeshiva University News » Saul Andron

Wurzweiler’s New Certificate Program Provides Professional Training in Jewish Philanthropy

Change. Meaning. Opportunity. Mitzvah.

In a classroom at Yeshiva University’s Beren Campus on  a recent Wednesday night, these were a few of the words 20 professionals used to describe the passion that drove them to pursue Jewish communal work and ultimately, to enroll in a new Certificate Program in Jewish Philanthropy at YU’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work.

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Andrea Wasserman shares a presentation on “The Culture of Philanthropy” with Certificate Program students.

“Remember that passion and those values and bring them to work with you,” guest lecturer Andrea Wasserman, a philanthropic and organizational development strategist, told students. “What we’re doing boils down to so much more than a financial transaction. We’re fostering partnerships that make the world a better place by helping your missions thrive.”

As Jewish causes face more fundraising challenges than ever before—including increased competition both within the Jewish world and with other nonprofits and donors hit hard by the economic recession—Wurzweiler launched the new Certificate Program to provide talented Jewish communal professionals with the tools they need to succeed in the modern philanthropic arena. Read the rest of this entry…

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Wurzweiler’s Eight Fulbright Specialists Gain International Perspective

The handiest item among academics at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work may be a passport.

Dean Hendricks

Dean Carmen Ortiz Hendricks became Wurzweiler's first Fulbright Specialist three years ago.

Since 2008, eight members of the school’s faculty have been named Fulbright Specialists. The highly acclaimed program grants awards to U.S. faculty and professionals in select disciplines ranging from agriculture to urban planning to participate in two- to-six week projects at colleges and universities in more than 100 countries. As Specialists, Wurzweiler professors have taught and studied across the globe, in countries like South Africa and the United Kingdom, on topics as disparate as palliative care and ethnic tensions.

“We’re an adventurous faculty,” said Dean Carmen Ortiz Hendricks, who became the school’s first Fulbright Specialist three years ago and has since spread her enthusiasm for the program to her colleagues. “We like new experiences. The Fulbright forms an international exchange of scholars, sending us to places where we can make a difference, learn something new and bring knowledge back with us to our home institutions.”

Hendricks’ project took her to Israel, where she shared her expertise in cultural competence with students and social workers at Tel Hai College in the north and Ben Gurion University in the south, stopping along the way at Hebrew University, the Jerusalem Intercultural Center and YU’s own campus in Israel. “It was an incredible experience not only because I got to teach but because Israel is such a diverse country,” she said. “In Ben Gurion, which has the largest Arab student population, I learned about Bedouin Arabs’ conflict with the Israeli government about abandoning their nomadic lifestyle and move into towns. In Jerusalem I spoke to an audience of Ethiopian, Russian and native Israeli social workers, asking them to define their own concept of cultural competence.” She added: “Israel truly is the crossroads of the world.”

Wilmore Schaeffer

As a Specialist, Wilmore-Schaeffer focused on improving relationships among racially diverse students and faculty in South Africa.

Following Hendricks’ trip, other faculty began to take flight. Dr. Jerry Streets, The Carl and Dorothy Bennet Professor of Pastoral Counseling, traveled with colleague Dr. Rozetta Wilmore-Schaeffer to South Africa, where he assisted in the establishment of an International Institute for Diversity at the University of The Free State (UFS). Wilmore-Schaeffer’s work at UFS focused on building a relationship within, between and among racially diverse students and faculty in an institution whose history has been one of racial intolerance. In Israel, Dr. Joan Beder taught a masters’-level two-week seminar at Hebrew University (HU) about social work with the military and met with scholars from Bar-Ilan and HU to explore possible research and collaboration.

For Dr. Gary Stein, a two-week Fulbright at Lancaster University’s International Observatory for End of Life Care provided valuable insight into the way palliative care is evolving in other countries. “The students in my seminars at LU came from around the world: Slovenia, Nepal, Kenya, Canada, the U.S. and the UK,” he said. “In our discussions, I heard international perspectives on how people practice, varying access to resources, how social workers are trained.” Stein also collaborated with leaders at St. Christopher’s Hospice to create a field placement for Wurzweiler students in the Manchester area and met with British experts in palliative care for aging lesbian and gay populations. “We’re creating a cadre of recognized leaders who are putting Wurzweiler on the map as one of the most prestigious and respected programs for sharing knowledge and academics on an international level.”

Fulbright Specialist: Stein, Streets, Wilmore-Schaeffer, Fast, Beder, Hendricks, Andron and Linzer.

Wurzweiler Fulbright Specialists: Stein, Streets, Wilmore-Schaeffer, Fast, Beder, Hendricks, Andron and Linzer.

More Fulbright projects are in the works. In the spring, Dr. Norman Linzer, The Samuel J. and Jean Sable Chair in Jewish Family Social Work, will lecture on the teaching of ethics at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. Dr. Saul Andron has also been approved to develop a project which will center on Jewish communal service.

In April, Dr. Jonathan Fast, an expert in school violence, will travel to the University of Temperi in Finland to deliver a series of lectures about the link between school shootings and extreme shaming. “Finland has had a spate of shootings: two in schools and one in a mall that was particularly horrifying,” said Fast. His research analyzes 13 school violence cases and the perpetrator’s history of social isolation and shame in each one. At Temperi, he will present his findings and pool knowledge with local academics whose work focuses on this area.

“Universities travel on their prestige,” Fast said. “The Fulbright gives us experience working internationally and prevents us from being insular or provincial. We’re dealing with a shrinking world, and in that sense it’s critical to meet scholars around the world and exchange information with them.”

He added: “Newton said, ‘I accomplish what I do because I stand on the shoulders of giants.’ All intellectual progress is built with collaboration.”

The Fulbright Specialists will share their experiences in podcasts available on the Wurzweiler Web site.

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Seminar Led by Wurzweiler’s Saul Andron Explores Social and Political Realities of Israeli Life

Ten outstanding social work students from select New York-based graduate programs have arrived in Israel to participate in a unique seminar that will explore the social and political realities of life in Israel. Scheduled to run through January 5, the program will play a significant role in preparing the students for professional practice in the Jewish community.

Saul Andron

Wurzweiler's Dr. Saul Andron will help lead the unique seminar.

The seminar also marks a strategic educational alliance of Yeshiva University, the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), Columbia University, NYU and the UJA-Federation, focused on developing the skills of Jewish communal professionals.

Led by Dr. Saul Andron, associate professor and the Hausman Chair in Communal Social Work at YU’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, and Rebecca Grabiner, director of the JTS Graduate School’s Jewish Professional Leadership Program, the students will visit locations around the country to examine Diaspora-Israel Relations, the Tzedek Hevrati protest movement as well as different models developed in Israel to respond to emergencies and trauma.

“Our goal is to paint the full picture for our students, to expose them to as wide a range of social, cultural and political developments as possible within the time allotted, allowing them to cultivate an understanding of each as individuals, social work and Jewish communal professionals, and caring and committed Jews,” said Andron.

“It is important to us that the students come away from this experience with a deep appreciation of Israel’s religiously and culturally diverse population, the many varied perspectives on Jewish and Israeli identity, and the role for social workers in responding to emerging needs among vulnerable populations. But it is just as important that we help the students develop their own personal connections to the people and State of Israel.”

The program—organized by the Israel Seminars JCC Association— includes students from Wurzweiler, JTS, Columbia University School of Social work and NYU School of Social Work, and is funded by Wurzweiler, JTS and in part by UJA-Federation of NY.

In addition to meeting with a collection of the country’s most notable social work professionals and academic experts, and with the directors of many of the top social welfare organizations, the students will also spend several days with social work students enrolled in Tel Hai College and participate in a special emergency response field exercise.  The group will also have the privilege of meeting with Ralph Goldman, the Joint Distribution Committee’s honorary executive vice president and an icon of Jewish philanthropy and Jewish communal life in Israel.

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Studying Community Organization, Wurzweiler Class Examines Occupy Wall Street Firsthand

Two weeks ago, a class from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work traveled to Lower Manhattan to observe the organizational structure and leadership dynamics of the Occupy Wall Street movement in Zuccotti Park.

Dr. Saul Andron

Dr. Saul Andron's class is studying the organizational structure of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Instructed by Associate Professor Dr. Saul Andron, the Hausman Chair in Communal Social Work, the community social work course of second year students jumped at the opportunity to witness firsthand the organization of the protests on the ground and get a sense of its strategies and tactics and successes to date, as well as the challenges facing this social movement going forward.

From art and history courses visiting museums to scientific collaboration with other research institutions, the outing served as one of the many examples of a Yeshiva University class maximizing its setting in New York by using the city as a real-time learning laboratory to complement class instruction and course material.

Occupy Wall Street“We are learning about social work from the macro practice perspective, specifically dealing with communities, neighborhoods and organizations,” said Dr. Andron at a recent class debriefing on their Lower Manhattan excursion. “We together felt that it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. We needed to check out Occupy Wall Street.”

The intricacies of the protesters’ organizational structures proved especially intriguing to the aspiring social workers. They spent their debriefing class dissecting all of the moving parts of the ongoing protests and applied concepts of community organization to better understand the developments on the ground. One student expressed amazement at the sanitation and food distribution operations. Another pondered over how the protestors managed their funds. Finally, the class emphasized and marveled at how the movement brought together disparate groups of people around a common cause.

One student, Melanie Goldberg, greatly appreciated her experience at the protests. “It was great to see so many of the concepts we are learning in class actually employed in the world,” she said. “We are learning about mobilizing locals and how to teach people to use their voice. To see that first-hand offered a great real world scenario to what we are learning in class.”

Occupy Wall Street organizers set up a makeshift library at Zuccotti Park.

Organizers set up a makeshift library at Zuccotti Park.

Her classmate, Alice Blass, pointed out the connection between what she learned from the atmosphere of the protest and the discipline of social work. “One thing we always discuss is that it is important for people to find their voice and be able to express themselves in a way that will yield positive results. This is what we saw in Zuccotti Park.”

The tour of the protests was just one of many experiential and hands-on classes conducted by Dr. Andron and other Wurzeiler faculty. In the past, he has brought students to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help rebuild homes in communities destroyed by the devastation and to the annual General Assembly of The Jewish Federations of North America to expose his students to innovative Jewish communal structures and program models.

With his passion for experiential learning and the enthusiasm of his students for further studying the Occupy Wall Street protests, Dr. Andron hopes to return to Lower Manhattan with his class to examine the development of this movement unfolding in Yeshiva University’s backyard.

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