On Monday, Dec. 14, and Tuesday, Dec. 15, the Care Café of Wurzweiler School of Social Work held two events: a Chanukah celebration and a substance abuse prevention workshop facilitated by Dr. Debbie Akerman, adjunct professor of social work and associate director of the field/block program.
Yiddish Favorites and Chanukah Classics
The Care Café Chanukah celebration, organized in partnership with Nachas Health and Family Network in Borough Park, bought together nearly forty people. On hand to offer words of celebration to the survivors was New York City Council Member Mark Levine. After an introduction by Dr. Orlee Hauser, director of Care Café, Levine joined 38 people in a sing-along of holiday songs led by Chanan Posner and his daughter Shir, both celebrated musicians, everybody socially distanced in their homes and with some of them logging into the event using tablets that Care Café purchased for them.
Levine helped spearhead the Council’s Elie Wiesel Holocaust Survivor Initiative, which provides millions in funding for programming and services, including this event. As chair of the Council’s Committee on Health, he noted the auspicious news of the first COVID vaccination in New York City that morning, and as he wished participants a happy Chanukah, he said that he wanted “to emphasize the city’s commitment to Holocaust survivors and to ensuring they have the assistance they need.”
Keeping Our Children Safe
Dr. Akerman held an information session, presented in both English and Spanish, about “Substance Abuse and Prevention.” The session was held in partnership with Catholic Charities during the Parent Association meeting for the High School for Health Careers and Sciences, located on the George Washington Educational Campus in Washington Heights.
Twenty-four people joined the conversation, deftly translated into Spanish by Carmen Maisonet, along with New York State Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa, who represents Washington Heights in the state assembly. “I am very thankful to Care Café for its dedication to mental health services in the community,” she said as she reviewed the work she has done to spearhead mental health initiatives in the legislature.
This conversation also had an importance beyond the excellent information being offered because it signified Yeshiva University’s ongoing commitment to building the strength and resilience of the Washington Heights community.
The partnership between Care Café and Health Careers and Sciences dates to 2019 and is part of the program’s regular programming with students and parents at local Washington Heights schools. goal to work closely with public schools in the Heights to ensure their long-term viability. Care Café maintains a similar partnership with I.S. 528 Bea Fuller Rodgers School.
Care Cafe’s work at Health Careers and Sciences forms a part of a wider collaboration between Yeshiva University and the prominent institution. Beginning in 2018, the university, through its director of government relations Jon Greenfield, formed a part of a task force convened by school leadership to collaborate with the wider Washington Heights community on providing resources to ensure the school’s future.
As part of its commitment to the high school’s continued success, Care Café holds weekly meetings to review issues and establish solutions. “Yeshiva University is proud to partner with excellent local educational institutions like the High School for Health Careers and Sciences,” said Greenfield. “The hard work and dedication of our Care Café team ensures this close collaboration remains strong now and into the future.
“Care Café continues to be honored to work with incredible partners in our remarkable city,” said Dr. Hauser. “We are so thankful for the support of leaders such as Council Member Mark Levine and Assemblymember Carmen De La Rosa who, together with other city leaders, make our work possible. It is this support that has made a difficult period easier, allowing us to be innovative in our programming and to strengthen our community when we all need it most.”