RIETS Students Take the Next Step in Pastoral Counseling

Joint Program in Mental Health Counseling Strengthens Critical Skill Set

On Sunday, June 23, 2019, certificates of completion for the RIETS/Ferkauf Joint Program in Mental Health Counseling were awarded to 10 students from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). Also attending the ceremony and celebratory breakfast were the students’ families and professors, as well as school administrators.


Standing left to right: Yoni Pollock, Avraham Wein, Menachem Brenner, Avi Rosalimsky, Zachary Rothblatt, Adam Abergel, Aron Rubin, Rabbi Neal Turk (not shown: Zachary Green; David Nagarpowers; Daniel Yaros) Seated left to right: Dr. Norman Blumenthal, Laura Turk, Dr. Arlene Steinberg, Dr. Rosalyn Sherman

A joint venture of RIETS and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, the counseling program prepares young men entering the rabbinate or pursuing careers in Jewish education to have a broader and deeper understanding of the psychological and emotional needs of their prospective congregants and students. The graduate-level courses are taught by Ferkauf-approved psychologists. As Orthodox Jewish clinicians, these instructors have a first-hand understanding of the clinical and cultural issues the graduates will have to address in their various work environments. The 18-credit program takes 18 months to complete.

At the event, each of the certificate recipients spoke briefly about what he gained through his studies. Rabbi Neal Turk, Mashgiach [religious advisor] of the semicha [rabbinic ordination] program and director of the joint program, shared experiences from the rabbinate, highlighting the importance of the kind of education the graduates received. Dr. Arlene Steinberg, a member of the Ferkauf board of overseers and an instructor in the joint program, emphasized in her remarks how rabbis are often the first responders to problems emerging in the community.

The group of 10 students is the fourth class to have completed the program and is the largest to date. In May 2019, three students in the first cohort to complete the program advanced their training to the next level by receiving master’s degrees in mental health counseling from Ferkauf.