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Information and Events

Stay up to date on what’s happening at Wurzweiler and learn more about our students, faculty, and alumni.

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The Care Cafe

Wurzweiler Care Cafe offers tools and hope to help you better negotiate challenges and move towards your full potential. Our respectful, responsive presentations and sensitive support empower you for healing and growth. Delivered in a friendly, comfortable cafe environment—full of good food plus great take-away resources and referrals.

Commitment
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How Care Cafe Was Born

A letter from the Dean

How Care Cafe Was Born

I was tired and weary. Bright fall days turned to bitter rainy ones that pushed beads of cold water down my neck and into the seams of my shoes. Every day I commuted on a crowded train under bright fluorescent lights that made my inevitable headache worse. On top of having a demanding job, the presidential election was in full swing and I was bombarded by contentious news that on most days felt assaultive.
Read more on how Care Cafe was born...

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The Spirit of Social Work in Action

Student involvement in Care Cafe

The Spirit of Social Work in Action

I first heard about the concept that has become “Care Cafe” in an early discussion with Dean Wozniak when I met her last summer. She told me about an article she’d read in the New York Times about something called “Repair Cafe”. It’s an innovative idea about community connection and sustainability...
Read more about "The Spirit of Social Work in Action."

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Schedule of Events

Come out and join us!

Featured

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Educating Rabbinic Clergy for End-of-Life Issues

Learn about Wurzweiler's unique 18-credit Certificate Program in Gerontology and Palliative Care.

Read the full article...

Educating Rabbinic Clergy for End-of-Life Issues

The Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University offers a unique 18-credit Certificate Program in Gerontology and Palliative Care for rabbis and cantors of all denominations to address a national need for well-trained clergy who can support healthy aging and deliver compassionate, quality care for serious and advanced illness. A small number of other professionals serving the Jewish community may also be considered for the program.

The program is offered completely online to make it as convenient as possible for working professionals to participate. Gary Stein, professor at Wurzweiler and one of the architects of the program, hopes to recruit a first cohort comprised of “our rabbinical students at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and community rabbis and cantors.” Students and clergy will be supported by scholarships to make the classes affordable.

The curriculum will be integrated with current rabbinic and religious education and cover the following areas: basic counseling with individuals, families and groups; building healthy relationships through the life span; social gerontology; palliative care and social work practice with serious illness; coping with loss; and aging in the Jewish community.

In addition, while the 18 credits from this certificate may be applied toward a full 60-credit Master in Social Work (MSW) at Wurzweiler, the certificate program is also self-contained, fulfilling the needs of those who feel they need strong grounding but who do not necessarily need to engage in advanced study. In this way, the certificate provides flexible solutions to meet the different needs of rabbis. Those who opt to complete Wurzweiler’s MSW program will be eligible for licensure as a mental health professional.

The program will convene an advisory council of community and religious leaders along with seasoned practitioners in palliative care and gerontology to evaluate the courses and identify rabbinical networks for recruitment.

Stein noted that “it is fitting and appropriate for Wurzweiler, based at Yeshiva University, to be reaching out to rabbinical students as well as community rabbis and cantors to help them provide the best care to their congregants, many of whom who are older and facing serious illness, and to the families taking on the roles of caregivers.”

“The core values of the social work profession,” said Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler, “obligate us to care for every aspect of people’s well-being from the beginning of their lives until the end. This certificate program fulfills this mission with both elegance and efficiency, empowering rabbis and other spiritual counselors to provide assistance that satisfies the physical, emotional and religious needs of their charges.”

""

Reinventing the Self

Yeshiva University hosted a powerful and timely discussion on “Reinventing the Self.”

Read the full article...

Reinventing the Self

On Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, Yeshiva University partnered with the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and West Side Institutional Synagogue for a powerful and timely discussion on “Reinventing the Self,” part of the YU Ideas initiative at the University.

Panelists included Dr. Debbie Akerman, adjunct professor of social work and associate director, field/block program, Wurzweiler School of Social Work; Alex Reinert, Max Freund Professor of Litigation and Advocacy and director of the Center for Rights and Justice at the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School; and Dr. Daniel Rynhold, professor in modern Jewish philosophy and director of the doctoral program at Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies.

In addition to her position at Wurzweiler, Dr. Akerman maintains a private practice focusing on addiction and trauma and couples and family counseling. “The world of addiction and recovery encourages self-introspection on a daily basis,” she said. “Once the individual begins the slow, arduous task of recovery, the layers and layers of shame, guilt, anger and resentments begin to peel away, leaving an individual that many do not recognize, an individual bathed in gratitude, love, living amends and service to others. The transformation is stunning and real.”

Reinert, a staunch advocate for prison reform, spoke of encounters he had with clients within prisons and said that “one thing always strikes me: the ability of our client, having human contact with another person for the first time in six months, people whom he had never met before, to engage on a deeply personal level with us about an extremely traumatic event that occurred in prison.”

Reinert went on to say that he would regularly experience the dissonance that came with seeing the capacity that people had, even under incredibly dehumanizing conditions, to demonstrate resilience in the face of their predicament. Though he was adamant about the need for prison reform in America, he made sure to add that “people can transform themselves in prison, reinvent themselves. Some of my clients over the years managed to do so—not because of what prisons had to offer but more in spite of what prisons inflict.”

Dr. Rynhold brought everything together with Jewish sources, particularly focusing on the view of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. He noted that our modern view of repentance was vastly different from the medieval view of R. Jonah of Gerondi, who wrote about the angst one must have over past sins. “Rather than torture oneself for the sins that one has committed,” Rav Soloveitchik speaks of the sinner’s ability to “change the past” by understanding one’s sin not as an indelible stain upon one’s conscience but rather something that the sinner “strives to convert into a spiritual springboard for increased inspiration and evaluation.”

These diverse perspectives from the worlds of addiction, prison reform and Jewish philosophy helped inspire the crowd to have an uplifting High Holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

""

Wurzweiler in Israel

Dean Danielle Wozniak spoke with YU News about the unique program that WSSW runs in Israel.

Read the full article...

Wurzweiler in Israel

Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler School of Social Work, spoke with YU News about the unique program that Wurzweiler runs in Israel that graduates social workers who can be licensed in both the United States and Israel.

What is the genesis of the program?
Wurzweiler has had a program in Israel for over 40 years as part of our summer block program, where students come to New York in the summer (generally in June or July) and take their classes in a concentrated block, hence the name. They then return to their home country, in this case Israel, and complete their field practicum hours at a local agency. Students may also take online or live online classes during the academic year when they are in the field.

What makes this program stand out from other programs?
First, it’s the only program in any school of social work that graduates social workers who can be licensed in both the United States and Israel.

Second, we’ve built a blended learning environment that accommodates students where they live and work. We have a strong relationship with Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where students take their practice classes and a policy class. Students can take their classes live online with Wurzweiler faculty and curriculum through our unique Zoom mediated classes, and if you want a face-to-face academic experience, we welcome you to the Summer Block program.

Third, our faculty are as blended as the program! Because of our partnership with Hebrew University, some of our teachers are Israelis based in Israel. Others are New York-based faculty. And still others are faculty we have recruited from around the United States with distinguished expertise.

How do you ensure that students dispersed around the world feel like a community?
We bring students together from all over the world to learn from very experienced and knowledgeable faculty and from a diverse student body. Students who take live online classes feel they are a part of their cohort; they build a learning community for the semester or for the year that is also a part of a global community. With live online and online classes, time and distance fall away as impediments to closeness and sharing. Classroom and field experiences are no longer geographically bounded. This makes for a very rich and enriched academic experience.

Describe the background of the students.
Many students have recently made aliyah and tend to be in their early 30s or late 20s. They are passionate about helping those in need and bettering society. Some of our students have had other careers and are now coming to social work as a second career. Others have always done social work in one form or another and are now seeking a degree to give them the added skills and credentials they need.

Can you give some examples of the supervised placements that are a part of the program?
We place students in social service agencies that work with every population and problem imaginable. Agencies eagerly embrace our students because they know they are very bright and come prepared. We place students in hospitals, clinics, schools, communities, disaster relief. Anywhere there is human pain, we are there.

How does the program reflect the Wurzweiler philosophy?
At Wurzweiler, our commitment to quality education is unwavering. We also are unwavering in our commitment to small classes, individualized attention, advising and instruction. This is the kind of nurturing that social work requires. It is the kind of education our students deserve. At Wurzweiler, we know your name, we know your strengths and we know what it is you want to work on. We join with you in achieving this. Because the world deserves exceptional healers.

Short- and long-term goals?
Our mission at Wurzweiler is to help heal a fractured world. We do this by training exceptional social workers.

To effect our mission, we must make our program accessible to everyone. If students want to come to New York and take face-to-face classes or stay at home and join their class live online or take a fully online class where they work at their own pace, we have those options available. It is the same exceptional program and the same exceptional nurturing.

And we want to grow the program. Our classes are all in English and we work with students for English-based placements. We are accepting applications now for this program.

We also have a thriving doctoral cohort in Israel who meet regularly with each other and with faculty and meet with each other to discuss coursework, research and publishing. If you are interested in the doctoral program, we would love to hear from you.

""

45 Women Ready To Make a Difference

The graduates of the WSSW Sara Schenirer program are true heroes.

Read the full article...

45 Women Ready To Make a Difference

They may not wear capes, but the graduates of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work-Sara Schenirer program are true heroes.

That’s because they’ve dedicated the past two years of their lives studying to become outstanding social workers and are now ready to apply their training and skills to help the most vulnerable in their communities. In their capacity as social workers, they will not only change and improve lives but even, at times, possibly save lives.

The program, designed to provide social work education and training to Orthodox women, many of whom will work within Orthodox communities, is the first of its kind, and it will help fill a tremendous need. And these women are truly up to the task, with an energy, enthusiasm and dedication clearly evident throughout the graduation. “I’m so excited and have been so happy with this program,” said one graduate. “The instructors were excellent. There was so much wisdom, and they wanted the best for us,” said another.

This summer, the joint program celebrated its first annual graduation celebration at the Sara Schenirer Institute in Brooklyn, New York. The procession of graduates was led by Dr. Danielle Wozniak, the Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler School of Social Work, and Esti Coates, administrator of the joint partnership program. Mrs. Baila Halpern, Sara Schenirer Director of Social Work, shared opening remarks, paraphrasing the “Shehecheyanu” blessing in Hebrew, which thanks G-d for new and exciting events and experiences. Rabbi Elazar Meisels, dean of Sara Schenirer, spoke about dedicating one’s life to gemilas chasadim [acts of kindness] and how “we are celebrating a group of students who are dedicated to a life of gemilas chesed.” Dr. Wozniak, in her address to the graduates, expressed her profound pride in the graduates, adding “you are entering a profession to see what others miss” and reflecting on how the graduates are not only changing this generation but future generations as well.

The audience was honored by the presence of New York State Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein, who presented a certificate from his office congratulating the graduates on their achievement. He spoke warmly about the program and expressed his desire for everyone in the community to appreciate the value of such strong degree programs where students can enjoy the warmth, support and religious environment of Sara Schenirer and the academic excellence of Wurzweiler.

The guest speaker was Dr. David Pelcovitz, the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Jewish Education and a popular professor in the program. He commended the graduates’ incredible choice of a profession that will “help people see that the hill is less steep.”

Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky, dean of the men’s undergraduate Torah studies program at Yeshiva University, and a key figure in orchestrating the partnership between Wurzweiler and Sara Schenirer, was also present. “All of those in the room at graduation shared in the accomplishments of each individual graduate as well as the collective excitement generated by our confidence in this talented cohort to make a dramatic impact on their communities,” said Rabbi Kalinsky.

The program has, by all accounts, proven to be a tremendous success, and the graduates’ communities look forward to the successes they will have with those they will help. “These graduates,” Dr. Wozniak said during her speech, “will alter the course of history.” Ester Kahan, class representative, spoke eloquently of how she continues to be inspired by her fellow classmates’ “essence of true giving” and how “being a giver allows us to experience ultimate pleasure.” She ended her address with a beautiful sentiment undoubtedly shared by all of her fellow graduates: “I’m in it to give.”

""

A Summer Celebration of Social Work Graduates

WSSW's 42nd Block Program Commencement honors new members of the profession.

Read the full article...

A Summer Celebration of Social Work Graduates

Weissberg Commons rang with wise words and celebratory laughter as the Wurzweiler School of Social Work welcomed 42 new graduates into their community.

After the processional, led by Dr. Selma Botman, provost and vice president of academic affairs, Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky gave the invocation: “We ask for his blessing and support in your noble endeavor to help the most vulnerable in our society. May you never forget or overlook oppression and approach the suffering in our world with compassion, expertise and humility. May you have the courage to speak the truth and to advocate for human dignity and the rights of all members of our community.”

After congratulatory remarks by Joan Katz, a member of the Wurzweiler Board of Overseers, Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean, spoke with passion about the confidence she has in how well the new graduates will do as they move out into the world to do their work. “For the last 61 years,” she said, “Wurzweiler has been educating social workers who are knowledgeable, hardworking, competent and resourceful. You now join their ranks…in the vital work of repairing a fractured world, a world that has been waiting for this day, and waiting for you.”

This idea of social work being akin to a calling was a theme that Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, took up his remarks to the graduates. “What we do at Yeshiva University,” he said, “is disseminate our messages of kindness and caring and redemption. We are on a path to redeem the world. We think of ourselves in greater terms. And this applies to all of our students and certainly applies to our incredible graduates of Wurzweiler. How you are devoting your life in working to redeem the world one by one, caring for each individual, is truly holy work.”

Three graduates—Debbie Akerman, Soohyoung Lee and Atara Leah English—offered their perspectives as students, and a number of other graduates received awards and certificates.

In his benediction, Rabbi Dr. Ari Sytner, adjunct instructor at Wurzweiler, noted that the graduates, now charged to go forth in to the world, will “transform the world that is before you…by seeing the beauty and the pure humanity in every fragile, tender, broken person you meet, the beautiful and perfectly imperfect amongst us. Use your training and education and power to transform this world one person at a time.”

SCHOOL AWARDS

  • DEAN’S AWARD: Benjamin Druce
  • FACULTY AWARD: Andrew Scott Kener
  • ESTHER AND WALTER LENTSCHNER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN WRITING: Atara Leah English
  • AARON H. BECKERMAN RESEARCH AWARD: Elana Joffe
""

Wurzweiler School of Social Work Graduation

Lamport Auditorium was filled with graduates along with their friends and family.

Read the full article...

Wurzweiler School of Social Work Graduation

On Thursday, May 16, 2019, the walls of the storied Lamport Auditorium on the Wilf campus of Yeshiva University rung with cheers, words of wisdom and applause as the Wurzweiler School of Social Work conferred degrees upon its 2019 graduates.

Dr. Jay Sweifach, associate dean and director of the PhD program, proved an able master of ceremonies for the assembled crowd of family, friends, faculty and administration. Dr. Selma Botman, provost and vice president for academic affairs, led in the procession as Chief Marshal, and Daniel Pollack, professor of social work, gave the invocation, in which he asked the “Master of the Universe” to bless and strengthen the graduates: “May you grant them opportunities to spend more time with their spouses, children, and loved ones than they think is reasonable; may you open their eyes to pay attention to all of their habits, because our habits, very quickly, become our lives; and, finally, may you help them to realize that, even though life isn’t always tied up in a nice, pretty bow, it’s all a wonderful gift.”

Greetings were given to the audience by Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, and Froma Benerofe, chair of the Wurzweiler Board of Overseers, along with remarks by Wurzweiler students Nafees Alam (PhD Class of 2019), Bonnie Pollak (PhD Class of 2019), Michelle S. Davis-Levy (MSW Class of 2019) and Jenesis Perez (MSW Class of 2019). Alam captured the spirit of the students’ remarks when she said that it is the duty of social workers “to protect and preserve everyone’s right to the freedom of speech, the freedom of thought, the freedom of expression.”

The keynote speech was given by Benjamin Kallos, New York City Council Member, District 5. In her introduction, Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler, admired Kallos for being “driven by the burning desire of public service and the yearning for social change. The necessity of Tikkun Olam—the Jewish concept of ‘Repairing the World’—propelled Council Member Kallos into politics. He does not hold his position to acquire fame but to service the thousands of constituents who live in his district.”

In his remarks, he told the assembled graduates that “for as long as I am here, you have a friend and ally in government dedicated to making it work for everyone. Change won’t come on day one, but it will come if it involves people like you—dedicated, passionate and effective.”

AWARDS AND PRESENTATIONS

SHELDON R. GELMAN NASW STUDENT AWARD (Presented by NASW-NYC Chapter): Zachary Johnson

DEAN’S AWARD: Crystal Diamond Pinero, William Carl Parker

FACULTY AWARD: Jenesis Perez

ESTHER AND WALTER LENTSCHNER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN WRITING: Raquel Gersten, Rachel Wertentheil

EDWARD GRUPPER MEMORIAL AWARD TO FIRST-YEAR STUDENT: Robert Reiser

AARON H. BECKERMAN RESEARCH AWARD: Jenna Alisa Springer

ELAINE SCHOTT ADVOCACY AWARD: Evan Cohen

FREDDA S. LEFF AWARD FOR SERVICES TO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY: Shayna T. Itzhak

M. JOANNA MELLOR MEMORIAL AWARD FOR SERVICES TO THE ELDERLY: Robin D. Sabater

OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP AWARD: William Carl Parker

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Educating Rabbinic Clergy for End-of-Life Issues

Learn about Wurzweiler's unique 18-credit Certificate Program in Gerontology and Palliative Care.

Read the full article...

Educating Rabbinic Clergy for End-of-Life Issues

The Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University offers a unique 18-credit Certificate Program in Gerontology and Palliative Care for rabbis and cantors of all denominations to address a national need for well-trained clergy who can support healthy aging and deliver compassionate, quality care for serious and advanced illness. A small number of other professionals serving the Jewish community may also be considered for the program.

The program is offered completely online to make it as convenient as possible for working professionals to participate. Gary Stein, professor at Wurzweiler and one of the architects of the program, hopes to recruit a first cohort comprised of “our rabbinical students at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and community rabbis and cantors.” Students and clergy will be supported by scholarships to make the classes affordable.

The curriculum will be integrated with current rabbinic and religious education and cover the following areas: basic counseling with individuals, families and groups; building healthy relationships through the life span; social gerontology; palliative care and social work practice with serious illness; coping with loss; and aging in the Jewish community.

In addition, while the 18 credits from this certificate may be applied toward a full 60-credit Master in Social Work (MSW) at Wurzweiler, the certificate program is also self-contained, fulfilling the needs of those who feel they need strong grounding but who do not necessarily need to engage in advanced study. In this way, the certificate provides flexible solutions to meet the different needs of rabbis. Those who opt to complete Wurzweiler’s MSW program will be eligible for licensure as a mental health professional.

The program will convene an advisory council of community and religious leaders along with seasoned practitioners in palliative care and gerontology to evaluate the courses and identify rabbinical networks for recruitment.

Stein noted that “it is fitting and appropriate for Wurzweiler, based at Yeshiva University, to be reaching out to rabbinical students as well as community rabbis and cantors to help them provide the best care to their congregants, many of whom who are older and facing serious illness, and to the families taking on the roles of caregivers.”

“The core values of the social work profession,” said Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler, “obligate us to care for every aspect of people’s well-being from the beginning of their lives until the end. This certificate program fulfills this mission with both elegance and efficiency, empowering rabbis and other spiritual counselors to provide assistance that satisfies the physical, emotional and religious needs of their charges.”

""

Reinventing the Self

Yeshiva University hosted a powerful and timely discussion on “Reinventing the Self.”

Read the full article...

Reinventing the Self

On Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, Yeshiva University partnered with the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and West Side Institutional Synagogue for a powerful and timely discussion on “Reinventing the Self,” part of the YU Ideas initiative at the University.

Panelists included Dr. Debbie Akerman, adjunct professor of social work and associate director, field/block program, Wurzweiler School of Social Work; Alex Reinert, Max Freund Professor of Litigation and Advocacy and director of the Center for Rights and Justice at the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School; and Dr. Daniel Rynhold, professor in modern Jewish philosophy and director of the doctoral program at Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies.

In addition to her position at Wurzweiler, Dr. Akerman maintains a private practice focusing on addiction and trauma and couples and family counseling. “The world of addiction and recovery encourages self-introspection on a daily basis,” she said. “Once the individual begins the slow, arduous task of recovery, the layers and layers of shame, guilt, anger and resentments begin to peel away, leaving an individual that many do not recognize, an individual bathed in gratitude, love, living amends and service to others. The transformation is stunning and real.”

Reinert, a staunch advocate for prison reform, spoke of encounters he had with clients within prisons and said that “one thing always strikes me: the ability of our client, having human contact with another person for the first time in six months, people whom he had never met before, to engage on a deeply personal level with us about an extremely traumatic event that occurred in prison.”

Reinert went on to say that he would regularly experience the dissonance that came with seeing the capacity that people had, even under incredibly dehumanizing conditions, to demonstrate resilience in the face of their predicament. Though he was adamant about the need for prison reform in America, he made sure to add that “people can transform themselves in prison, reinvent themselves. Some of my clients over the years managed to do so—not because of what prisons had to offer but more in spite of what prisons inflict.”

Dr. Rynhold brought everything together with Jewish sources, particularly focusing on the view of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. He noted that our modern view of repentance was vastly different from the medieval view of R. Jonah of Gerondi, who wrote about the angst one must have over past sins. “Rather than torture oneself for the sins that one has committed,” Rav Soloveitchik speaks of the sinner’s ability to “change the past” by understanding one’s sin not as an indelible stain upon one’s conscience but rather something that the sinner “strives to convert into a spiritual springboard for increased inspiration and evaluation.”

These diverse perspectives from the worlds of addiction, prison reform and Jewish philosophy helped inspire the crowd to have an uplifting High Holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

""

Wurzweiler in Israel

Dean Danielle Wozniak spoke with YU News about the unique program that WSSW runs in Israel.

Read the full article...

Wurzweiler in Israel

Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler School of Social Work, spoke with YU News about the unique program that Wurzweiler runs in Israel that graduates social workers who can be licensed in both the United States and Israel.

What is the genesis of the program?
Wurzweiler has had a program in Israel for over 40 years as part of our summer block program, where students come to New York in the summer (generally in June or July) and take their classes in a concentrated block, hence the name. They then return to their home country, in this case Israel, and complete their field practicum hours at a local agency. Students may also take online or live online classes during the academic year when they are in the field.

What makes this program stand out from other programs?
First, it’s the only program in any school of social work that graduates social workers who can be licensed in both the United States and Israel.

Second, we’ve built a blended learning environment that accommodates students where they live and work. We have a strong relationship with Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where students take their practice classes and a policy class. Students can take their classes live online with Wurzweiler faculty and curriculum through our unique Zoom mediated classes, and if you want a face-to-face academic experience, we welcome you to the Summer Block program.

Third, our faculty are as blended as the program! Because of our partnership with Hebrew University, some of our teachers are Israelis based in Israel. Others are New York-based faculty. And still others are faculty we have recruited from around the United States with distinguished expertise.

How do you ensure that students dispersed around the world feel like a community?
We bring students together from all over the world to learn from very experienced and knowledgeable faculty and from a diverse student body. Students who take live online classes feel they are a part of their cohort; they build a learning community for the semester or for the year that is also a part of a global community. With live online and online classes, time and distance fall away as impediments to closeness and sharing. Classroom and field experiences are no longer geographically bounded. This makes for a very rich and enriched academic experience.

Describe the background of the students.
Many students have recently made aliyah and tend to be in their early 30s or late 20s. They are passionate about helping those in need and bettering society. Some of our students have had other careers and are now coming to social work as a second career. Others have always done social work in one form or another and are now seeking a degree to give them the added skills and credentials they need.

Can you give some examples of the supervised placements that are a part of the program?
We place students in social service agencies that work with every population and problem imaginable. Agencies eagerly embrace our students because they know they are very bright and come prepared. We place students in hospitals, clinics, schools, communities, disaster relief. Anywhere there is human pain, we are there.

How does the program reflect the Wurzweiler philosophy?
At Wurzweiler, our commitment to quality education is unwavering. We also are unwavering in our commitment to small classes, individualized attention, advising and instruction. This is the kind of nurturing that social work requires. It is the kind of education our students deserve. At Wurzweiler, we know your name, we know your strengths and we know what it is you want to work on. We join with you in achieving this. Because the world deserves exceptional healers.

Short- and long-term goals?
Our mission at Wurzweiler is to help heal a fractured world. We do this by training exceptional social workers.

To effect our mission, we must make our program accessible to everyone. If students want to come to New York and take face-to-face classes or stay at home and join their class live online or take a fully online class where they work at their own pace, we have those options available. It is the same exceptional program and the same exceptional nurturing.

And we want to grow the program. Our classes are all in English and we work with students for English-based placements. We are accepting applications now for this program.

We also have a thriving doctoral cohort in Israel who meet regularly with each other and with faculty and meet with each other to discuss coursework, research and publishing. If you are interested in the doctoral program, we would love to hear from you.

""

45 Women Ready To Make a Difference

The graduates of the WSSW Sara Schenirer program are true heroes.

Read the full article...

45 Women Ready To Make a Difference

They may not wear capes, but the graduates of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work-Sara Schenirer program are true heroes.

That’s because they’ve dedicated the past two years of their lives studying to become outstanding social workers and are now ready to apply their training and skills to help the most vulnerable in their communities. In their capacity as social workers, they will not only change and improve lives but even, at times, possibly save lives.

The program, designed to provide social work education and training to Orthodox women, many of whom will work within Orthodox communities, is the first of its kind, and it will help fill a tremendous need. And these women are truly up to the task, with an energy, enthusiasm and dedication clearly evident throughout the graduation. “I’m so excited and have been so happy with this program,” said one graduate. “The instructors were excellent. There was so much wisdom, and they wanted the best for us,” said another.

This summer, the joint program celebrated its first annual graduation celebration at the Sara Schenirer Institute in Brooklyn, New York. The procession of graduates was led by Dr. Danielle Wozniak, the Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler School of Social Work, and Esti Coates, administrator of the joint partnership program. Mrs. Baila Halpern, Sara Schenirer Director of Social Work, shared opening remarks, paraphrasing the “Shehecheyanu” blessing in Hebrew, which thanks G-d for new and exciting events and experiences. Rabbi Elazar Meisels, dean of Sara Schenirer, spoke about dedicating one’s life to gemilas chasadim [acts of kindness] and how “we are celebrating a group of students who are dedicated to a life of gemilas chesed.” Dr. Wozniak, in her address to the graduates, expressed her profound pride in the graduates, adding “you are entering a profession to see what others miss” and reflecting on how the graduates are not only changing this generation but future generations as well.

The audience was honored by the presence of New York State Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein, who presented a certificate from his office congratulating the graduates on their achievement. He spoke warmly about the program and expressed his desire for everyone in the community to appreciate the value of such strong degree programs where students can enjoy the warmth, support and religious environment of Sara Schenirer and the academic excellence of Wurzweiler.

The guest speaker was Dr. David Pelcovitz, the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Jewish Education and a popular professor in the program. He commended the graduates’ incredible choice of a profession that will “help people see that the hill is less steep.”

Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky, dean of the men’s undergraduate Torah studies program at Yeshiva University, and a key figure in orchestrating the partnership between Wurzweiler and Sara Schenirer, was also present. “All of those in the room at graduation shared in the accomplishments of each individual graduate as well as the collective excitement generated by our confidence in this talented cohort to make a dramatic impact on their communities,” said Rabbi Kalinsky.

The program has, by all accounts, proven to be a tremendous success, and the graduates’ communities look forward to the successes they will have with those they will help. “These graduates,” Dr. Wozniak said during her speech, “will alter the course of history.” Ester Kahan, class representative, spoke eloquently of how she continues to be inspired by her fellow classmates’ “essence of true giving” and how “being a giver allows us to experience ultimate pleasure.” She ended her address with a beautiful sentiment undoubtedly shared by all of her fellow graduates: “I’m in it to give.”

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A Summer Celebration of Social Work Graduates

WSSW's 42nd Block Program Commencement honors new members of the profession.

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A Summer Celebration of Social Work Graduates

Weissberg Commons rang with wise words and celebratory laughter as the Wurzweiler School of Social Work welcomed 42 new graduates into their community.

After the processional, led by Dr. Selma Botman, provost and vice president of academic affairs, Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky gave the invocation: “We ask for his blessing and support in your noble endeavor to help the most vulnerable in our society. May you never forget or overlook oppression and approach the suffering in our world with compassion, expertise and humility. May you have the courage to speak the truth and to advocate for human dignity and the rights of all members of our community.”

After congratulatory remarks by Joan Katz, a member of the Wurzweiler Board of Overseers, Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean, spoke with passion about the confidence she has in how well the new graduates will do as they move out into the world to do their work. “For the last 61 years,” she said, “Wurzweiler has been educating social workers who are knowledgeable, hardworking, competent and resourceful. You now join their ranks…in the vital work of repairing a fractured world, a world that has been waiting for this day, and waiting for you.”

This idea of social work being akin to a calling was a theme that Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, took up his remarks to the graduates. “What we do at Yeshiva University,” he said, “is disseminate our messages of kindness and caring and redemption. We are on a path to redeem the world. We think of ourselves in greater terms. And this applies to all of our students and certainly applies to our incredible graduates of Wurzweiler. How you are devoting your life in working to redeem the world one by one, caring for each individual, is truly holy work.”

Three graduates—Debbie Akerman, Soohyoung Lee and Atara Leah English—offered their perspectives as students, and a number of other graduates received awards and certificates.

In his benediction, Rabbi Dr. Ari Sytner, adjunct instructor at Wurzweiler, noted that the graduates, now charged to go forth in to the world, will “transform the world that is before you…by seeing the beauty and the pure humanity in every fragile, tender, broken person you meet, the beautiful and perfectly imperfect amongst us. Use your training and education and power to transform this world one person at a time.”

SCHOOL AWARDS

  • DEAN’S AWARD: Benjamin Druce
  • FACULTY AWARD: Andrew Scott Kener
  • ESTHER AND WALTER LENTSCHNER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN WRITING: Atara Leah English
  • AARON H. BECKERMAN RESEARCH AWARD: Elana Joffe
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Wurzweiler School of Social Work Graduation

Lamport Auditorium was filled with graduates along with their friends and family.

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Wurzweiler School of Social Work Graduation

On Thursday, May 16, 2019, the walls of the storied Lamport Auditorium on the Wilf campus of Yeshiva University rung with cheers, words of wisdom and applause as the Wurzweiler School of Social Work conferred degrees upon its 2019 graduates.

Dr. Jay Sweifach, associate dean and director of the PhD program, proved an able master of ceremonies for the assembled crowd of family, friends, faculty and administration. Dr. Selma Botman, provost and vice president for academic affairs, led in the procession as Chief Marshal, and Daniel Pollack, professor of social work, gave the invocation, in which he asked the “Master of the Universe” to bless and strengthen the graduates: “May you grant them opportunities to spend more time with their spouses, children, and loved ones than they think is reasonable; may you open their eyes to pay attention to all of their habits, because our habits, very quickly, become our lives; and, finally, may you help them to realize that, even though life isn’t always tied up in a nice, pretty bow, it’s all a wonderful gift.”

Greetings were given to the audience by Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, and Froma Benerofe, chair of the Wurzweiler Board of Overseers, along with remarks by Wurzweiler students Nafees Alam (PhD Class of 2019), Bonnie Pollak (PhD Class of 2019), Michelle S. Davis-Levy (MSW Class of 2019) and Jenesis Perez (MSW Class of 2019). Alam captured the spirit of the students’ remarks when she said that it is the duty of social workers “to protect and preserve everyone’s right to the freedom of speech, the freedom of thought, the freedom of expression.”

The keynote speech was given by Benjamin Kallos, New York City Council Member, District 5. In her introduction, Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler, admired Kallos for being “driven by the burning desire of public service and the yearning for social change. The necessity of Tikkun Olam—the Jewish concept of ‘Repairing the World’—propelled Council Member Kallos into politics. He does not hold his position to acquire fame but to service the thousands of constituents who live in his district.”

In his remarks, he told the assembled graduates that “for as long as I am here, you have a friend and ally in government dedicated to making it work for everyone. Change won’t come on day one, but it will come if it involves people like you—dedicated, passionate and effective.”

AWARDS AND PRESENTATIONS

SHELDON R. GELMAN NASW STUDENT AWARD (Presented by NASW-NYC Chapter): Zachary Johnson

DEAN’S AWARD: Crystal Diamond Pinero, William Carl Parker

FACULTY AWARD: Jenesis Perez

ESTHER AND WALTER LENTSCHNER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN WRITING: Raquel Gersten, Rachel Wertentheil

EDWARD GRUPPER MEMORIAL AWARD TO FIRST-YEAR STUDENT: Robert Reiser

AARON H. BECKERMAN RESEARCH AWARD: Jenna Alisa Springer

ELAINE SCHOTT ADVOCACY AWARD: Evan Cohen

FREDDA S. LEFF AWARD FOR SERVICES TO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY: Shayna T. Itzhak

M. JOANNA MELLOR MEMORIAL AWARD FOR SERVICES TO THE ELDERLY: Robin D. Sabater

OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP AWARD: William Carl Parker

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