Conference Will Focus on the Role of the Chatan Teacher and Feature Rabbis and Mental Health Professionals

Feb 26, 2008 — A conference on “The Role of the Chatan Teacher” sponsored by Yeshiva University’s (YU) Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) will take place on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 at the Wilf Campus in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. The Yom Iyun was organized by Tzelem, a special project of CJF.

To give chatan teachers (rabbis who help prepare prospective grooms) the training and resources they need, Tzelem has teamed up with YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Seminary rabbinic alumni and working with prominent mental health professionals. Chatan teachers need to relay information in a sensitive manner and not only do they need to be well versed in Jewish law, but they must be able to address psychological concerns.

Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of CJF, says the innovative program – which includes the participation of the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America – may well be the first of its kind. However, Tzelem has convened successful gatherings bringing rabbis and kallah teachers together with mental health professionals.

“A special challenge will be to reach those who are already well-versed in the law and bring to the forefront issues they might now have thought about,” says Rabbi Brander.

Integrating sex education into chatan classes will be an important topic of discussion at the conference,” says Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld, Tzelem’s director. “The chatan teacher needs to sensitize the groom to the physical and psychological aspects of marriage,” she adds, noting that presentations will include explorations of basic anatomy as well as a look at psychological concerns that may arise in the period preceding marriage. “Many people who prepare that chatan for marriage have had no formal preparation in this area. We need to give them more training.”

Tzelem, which began as a CJF incubator project and has now taken on a more permanent status within the CJF, was created to help the Orthodox community develop religiously sensitive resources in the areas of intimacy and relationships.

Attendees will hear presentations by Rabbis Yosef Blau and Yaacov Neuberger, as well as by Rebbetzin Abby Lerner, a kallah teacher for 25 years. Representing medical and mental health practitioners will be Drs. Harvey Chaim Kranzler, Isaac Schechter, and Scott Chudnoff. Plenary sessions will be complemented by breakout groups exploring case studies led by experienced rabbis.

For further information, call Tzelem at 212-960-5400, ext. 5438 or email tzelem@gmail.com.

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