Wurzweiler international students  


Summary of Monthly Student Meeting in Israel

January 20th, 2015

At the outset of the meeting we split up into two groups with Marva reviewing the purpose and requirements of a bio-psychosocial with the first year students, while I met with the second year students and discussed the goals of the essay.  Before we heard the student presentation, we enjoyed the tasty pastries that Laura brought to the meeting – thank you Laura!

Speaking of student presentations, kudos to Aviva and Dina for a wonderfully clear, informative and engaging presentation about communication.  From the noisy chatter of social media in our personal lives to the need for active and sensitive listening in the social work profession, we learned a great deal about the complexity, challenges and opportunities for effective listening and communication. 

Our guest speaker was Pamela Pearlman, the Mental Health Rehabilitation Coordinator for the Jerusalem District based in the District Psychiatrist’s office of the District Health Authority.  Pamela supervises the implementation of the statutory Rehabilitation Law (Sal Shikum), 2000 whereby her team of professionals assesses eligibility and develops the initial rehabilitation program of the client.

Pamela’s overview and analysis of how Israel's Mental Health policy has morphed from an institutionalized and highly medicated system to a more community, rehabilitative and empowerment based mode of social work was highly informative, stimulating and inspiring.  Pamela spoke passionately about her efforts to affect change in Israeli society and emphasized to our students about the importance and need for a generic, macro and systematic approach to the social work profession.

The link between the students’ presentation about communication and Pamela’s talk about Mental Health was the issue of empathetic listening.  As such, the students learned a great deal about the interface of individual case work with a macro approach.  First and foremost, we need to listen to the needs of our clients, families, groups and communities. From there, we need to act and develop services that meet the needs of our client base. 

A big thank you to Aviva and Dina, and to Pamela for their excellent presentations which helped to make our student meeting such a positive educational experience.

Meir Charash, M.S.W, Coordinator of Israel Block Program

Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University


December 25th, 2014

Coming on the heels of last month’s student meeting when we were all dealing with the shock of the tragic terrorist attack in Har Nof, the first thing students noticed was how quickly (not easily, mind you) that we were all able to move forward with our professional and personal lives.  Perhaps this is a demonstration of our resiliency and/or a healthy defense mechanism.    Either way, with our renewed energy we successfully covered a lot of topics during our meeting such as poverty, elections, the goals and process of mid-year evaluations, mindfulness and spiritualty within the context of helping clients coping  with illness and grief and the subject of the student presentation - Secondary Trauma.

We want to express our appreciation to Miriam and Ofira, our student presenters this month, for helping to sensitize us to the importance of taking care of ourselves as social workers so that we may provide professional care to our clients.  As social workers we cannot work without compassion.  And yet, as we learned, if we reach what is termed as “compassion fatigue,” we will not be able to provide the much needed services to our clients.  Miriam and Ofira, therefore, outlined a number of interventions that will help social workers cope with secondary trauma.  For both beginning and experienced social workers, the message about being mindful about the need to take care of ourselves was well received – kudos to Miriam and Ofira.  

Speaking of being mindful, Margo Helman, the Clinical Director at Tishkofet, an agency that helps clients deal with illness and loss, made an excellent presentation on Mindfulness and Spirituality within the context of helping clients cope with illness and grief.

Through the process of educating the Block students about these important issues, Margo also shared her perspective on the goals of therapy by highlighting the salient principles, values and tools of the social work profession as a whole.

Teaching generic social work is one of the educational underpinnings of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work and Margo’s professional presentation did exactly that.

I believe that the Israel Block students, as well as Marva and l, learned a great deal from both the student presentations and Margo’s.  Onward to next month!

Meir Charash, MSW

Coordinator of Israel Block Program

Wurzweiler School of Social Work

Yeshiva University


An Important Lesson

November 18, 2014

 Dear Students,

On a day when it was understandably hard for all of us to focus, you did exactly that demonstrating a good deal of maturity and sensitivity throughout the meeting.   The opening discussion about how the security situation impacts on our lives powerfully demonstrated how raw and complex the issues are.  And, your ability to express feelings and to listen to one another was most impressive and very much appreciate

Miriam and Laura should be applauded for making an outstanding presentation about "Geography and Confidentiality", finding the right amount of balance of sharing information and facilitating discussion.  We are all more keenly aware of how small this global world is and how we need to take that into account when we accept or, don't accept working with clients because of some type of previous connection.

Miriam/Laura - kudos on a job well done!

Marva and I were also very appreciative of the way you engaged with Rachel Ackerman, our guest speaker who spoke on the topic of supervision.  You raised salient concerns/dilemmas/questions which helped form the basis of Rachel's talk.  Learning how to take these potential areas of conflict with your field instructors and converting them into opportunities for conversation by sharing/risking your feelings, we believe, is an invaluable lesson.

Rachel also beautifully connected the concept of parallel process within the context of supervision, another important social work skill that can enhance the therapeutic process between client and social worker. 

None of today's accomplishments could have taken place without the steadfastness that you all demonstrated by staying the course despite the tragic events of the day.  When Nisi announced that she needed to leave for the funeral and Rachel decided that this was the appropriate time to end,  I believe we all learned the importance of sharing feelings and claiming ownership in 'real time.'

This is an important lesson to 'own' in your social work education -  I can only hope we can continue this process - but under very different circumstances.

Marva and I thank you all for staying together today.

Erev Tov,


Meir Charash, MSW

Coordinator of Israel Block Program

Wurzweiler School of Social Work


Dr. Ronnie Glassman, Director of Field Work sent this response:

To All of our Wurzweiler people,

First, let me express our condolences to you all for this terrible and tragic loss.  I hope you know we are with you in spirit.

Knowing that you were together at this seminar is important to us here.  Social work will guide the students through, and for us who have been around a long time, we can attest to that.  I am reminded of our horrible day in New York on September 11, which was the second day of field work for all MSW students in our city.  So many students and supervisors, and agency executives bonded together on that day to help our vulnerable clients, to maintain community together, to help each other, and to dialogue.

Know that what you did today by being together and considering the tragedy through your social work lens of heart and mind will be forever with you.

I regret you all have to go through this.  It has been hard to watch over here.

Fond wishes,

Ronnie Glassman, DSW, LCSW-R

Director of Field Instruction

Wurzweiler School of Social Work



October 22, 2014

Yesterday the Israel Block Program convened for its first monthly student meeting and at the conclusion of the orientation, Marva and I looked at each other and simultaneously exclaimed – what great students; what a great beginning!

Marva and I welcomed all the students and I then spoke about the importance of change – first year students making the change from learning about social work to actually working in the field, and second year students making the transition from beginning social workers to second year students who, before they know it, will be working on their essays, graduating and thinking about their careers.

Two second year students, Miriam Joseph and Miriam Barth, organized two icebreaker exercises that helped the first and second year students get to know each other and asked questions (first year students – what are your concerns; and second year students – what was most challenging and rewarding during your first year of social work school) that facilitated the sharing of thoughts and feelings in a safe and trusting environment.  They did a truly excellent job and we all appreciated their efforts.

We then reviewed the Block Program’s manual covering administrative matters and key educational issues such as the writing of professional process recordings, the monthly logs and student presentations. A lot of material was covered and, nonetheless, throughout the orientation the students were engaged, attentive and asked relevant questions.

Beginnings are, at times, filled with uncertainty, but at the end of the day, we felt quite certain that we have terrific students and that the Israel Block Program is off to a great beginning.

Meir Charash, MSW, Coordinator of the Israel Block Program

Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University



Israeli WSSW Student Turned Soldier Returns From War With Thanks

August 20th, 2014

From Meir Charash, MSW, Coordinator of the Block Program:


With the student's (now colleague) permission, I'm posting this letter that he (must refrain from using his name as his request due to security issues) wrote to Dean Hendricks. We have so much to be proud of this Israeli social worker turned soldier and our amazing Dean whose empathy and leadership skills knows no limits. Somehow I doubt that the U.N. will interview this soldier...

"Dear Dr. Hendricks, I just returned from two weeks of war and wanted to give you a brief update of what is happening. Currently, I am on standby waiting for further instructions depending on the ceasefire talks taking place in Cairo. Directly after our graduation exercises, I received a phone call from the Army, asking me to get back home as soon as possible, to gather my soldiers and get on the helicopters to Gaza. The energy and excitement generated at the beautiful graduation ceremonies were quickly replaced with intense operational preparations. I felt privileged to serve my country and protect my family and friends. Nevertheless, the experience of war is unpleasant. It is indeed the kingdom of uncertainty, a range of feelings and experiences which is very challenging to describe in words. Maybe above all, is the awareness that death is always around the corner. When I had some time to think alone, I acknowledged the fact that in all the wars I have participated in to date, this is the first one that I am not just a soldier, but also a social worker. As such, I felt that alongside my operational responsibilities to target the terrorists, I had also human and social responsibilities to every innocent human being trying to avoid harming them and minimize their suffering. On Saturday, I returned to Israel after not seeing my home for over two and a half month, I called Meir, and let him know that I was all right. It is hard for to express how much your unequivocal and unhesitant support means to me. Suffice to say, I was very touched by your concern and empathy and the degree of trust that you placed in me to complete all my assignments in a timely fashion once the war is over. , I can readily assure you that I will submit all outstanding papers to my professors and the essay to Meir. Dean Hendricks: Thank you so much for everything. Kol Tuv"



Thank you to all the of the wonderful Wurzweiler alumni who came out to the April 2nd, 2014 Alumni Networking Event in Jerusalem!


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