Friday, December 7, 2007

Wurz Prof Pollack Book on Adoption

Lyceum Books is publishing Adoption in the United States: A Reference for Families, Professionals and Students, by Wurzweiler professor, Daniel Pollack.

This outstanding reference work provides information about adoptions for each state and will be a suitable resource for graduate-level students, professionals, and parents.

Wurzweiler Proffs Visit Cuba, Study Health Care

Drs. Susan Mason, David Strug and Joan Beder, faculty at Wurzweiler, have just returned from Cuba where they are working on a book on that country’s health care system.

The book, Community Health Care in Cuba: An Enduring Model will be published in 2008. It focuses on Cuba’s unique integrated health care system and examines health care at the local community level using an ecological perspective. Each chapter is grounded in data collected and analyzed by the authors themselves and is written by highly respected professionals in the health field and in the social sciences who either live in Cuba or who have traveled often to that country.

The authors have interviewed numerous officials of the Cuban government and have visited the homes of Cuban women and men to learn how their health system serves the people at the community level.

Dr. Mason told the What's New blog:
The Cuban health system has its flaws, but it is known internationally for its effectiveness while utilizing limited resources. There may be important lessons we can learn from them to improve our delivery of health services.

Any trip to Cuba is an exciting and powerful experience and this trip was no exception with interesting interviews and meaningful exchanges with Cuban heath care experts.

Richard Joel Addresses Jewish Communal, Education Grad Students on Leadership

This past Wednesday, November 28, Yeshiva University president Richard M. Joel spoke candidly to students and faculty in the Jewish Communal Service Certificate program of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work and Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration about leadership and organizational change.

Joel opened the discussion with a reflection on the lessons he learned as associate dean of Cardozo Law School, president and international director of Hillel, and his current position as president of Yeshiva University. Joel began bluntly enough:
I don’t believe in change, and I don’t believe in institutions. What I do believe in is G-d, civilization, and the destiny of the Jewish people. It is very easy to get caught up in helping to save or preserve an institution and forget that the institution itself is there to serve a higher purpose. I believe in change not for the sake of change, but rather for the sake of something else, something greater. Whenever you are involved in change, you must ask yourself where it is that you want to go.
Joel pointed out that many who are involved in organizational change are sometimes too quick to “act frantically,” without properly thinking through where it is that they want the organizational to go and what purposes they want it to serve. As an example, Joel referred back to his experiences when taking over the helm of Hillel, the college campus Jewish organization. He recounted some of the resistance he first encountered, both from Hillel rabbis who were satisfied with the small but strong core group of interested Jewish students and who didn’t care to extend their influence to the larger unaffiliated Jewish student body, as well as the mostly elderly board members of B’nai B’rith, Hillel’s funding organization, who initially distrusted Joel’s Orthodox Jewish affiliation.

In responding to these challenges, Joel began his tenure at Hillel by framing a clear and compelling mission, stating that their goal was to “maximize the number of Jews doing Jewish with other Jews.” With this mission in mind, Joel then forged an implementation strategy to introduce changes to “engage Jews where they are at,” such as forming Jewish a capella groups, refurbishing old 1950s-era Hillel buildings, and expanding the qualification requirements of campus Hillel directors to include not only rabbis but also those who were impassioned, though non-ordained, educators.

Under Joel’s tenure from 1988 to 2002, Hillel grew from a $13 million enterprise to one with a budget of $60 million, forming partnerships with other organizations and attracting philanthropists such as Edgar Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt. President Joel also emphasized the importance of evaluation and clear metrics to measure progress of the change process, thereby providing feedback for mid-course corrections and for developing new initiatives. Joel also reflected on the challenges and potential pitfalls of leadership, noting that leadership is lonely at the end of the day, since it is the leader alone who “stays up at night worrying about the problems of the institution.” Such loneliness can lead to self-righteousness, he noted, as the leader begins to think of himself as a martyr for his work. To combat this potential snare, Joel emphasized the necessity of “having a life,” and centering one’s energies in one’s family.
Throughout his address, Joel continually referred to the love, guidance and support of his wife, Esther, who was present during part of his talk, and he spoke with pride of his six children (three of whom have followed his footsteps into Jewish educational and communal work). In fact, Joel stated that the hardest part of his work has been being away from his wife and family as he travels throughout the country. Joel concluded by emphasizing the importance of Jewish communal work today, pointing out that the old reasons for being Jewish—nostalgia, anti-Semitism, the Holocaust—have largely fallen away, leaving many Jews searching for new reasons to remain true to their heritage. Yet, he also encouraged those involved in such work to develop a sense of humility, which he clearly displayed himself throughout his talk.

I view the work I do much like my wife and I view the role of parents. To be successful as a parent, you need to do everything right—and then you still need mazel [luck]! Similarly, in your careers, you need to work hard, and even after that, there is still no assurance that things will work out.

Still, it was clear to those present that for Joel they did, with the myriad contributions he has made upon Jewish life in last few decades. And with his typical candor, honesty, humor, passion and enthusiasm, students left inspired that their future efforts and work might similarly bear fruit.
Thanks to Robert Liebowitz for this post

Friday, November 30, 2007

Professor Gary Stein Delivers RAND Report, Coordinates Leadership Conference for Newly Formed Palliative Care Network

Wurzweiler Prof Gary Stein has been consulting to the RAND Corporation this past year. At a national invitational forum on advance care planning held in Washington in October, he reported on his analysis of research and outreach materials on advance care planning and directives for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. This informed a broader focus on advance care planning that also considered legal approaches and public engagement. The outcomes of this meeting are a report of recommendations for federal policymakers on advance care planning that will be submitted next year to the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services and to Congress (under a statute requesting a report to Congress on this issue).

In a second project, Stein and Grace Christ, a colleague from Columbia Univerity School of Social Work, have been coordinating a day-long leadership conference for social workers conducting practice or research in palliative care or hospice to be held on January 30, 2008 in Tampa, FL, prior to the annual conference of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Support from the Academy will allow social workers to attend the one-day program at no charge. Christ & Stein are chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the newly formed Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network

Interested in attending the SWHPN free pre-conference? Registration information here.

Wurzweiler Students Descend on Nashville for the Annual United Jewish Communities General Assembly

Between November 11th and 13th, 17 Wurzweiler students had the privilege to be among the nearly 4,000 participants at the United Jewish Communities’ General Assembly. Under the theme of “One People, One Destiny,” the GA, held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, looked to tackle a myriad of challenges facing the organized Jewish community in North America, including:
  • changing trends of philanthropy,
  • Israel advocacy,
  • and promoting, nurturing and cultivating the involvement and emergence of tomorrow’s Jewish leaders.
This last concept--celebrating new and younger leaders--pervaded much of the proceedings. There were many young speakers at the plenary and breakout sessions, and there was a very large delegation of college and university students in attendance.

Under the guidance of Professor Saul Andron, Wurzweiler students were personal benefactors of this special attention. Professor Andron arranged an informal question and answer session with three Wurzweiler alumni who currently hold executive positions in their respective Federations (Judah Isaacs in Detroit, Marc Terrill in Baltimore and Max Kleinman in MetroWest, NJ). This session actually led to an impromptu invitation from Marc Terrill to a Baltimore Federation reception, attended by Baltimore professionals and lay leaders, later that evening.

Wurzweiler students met in a special session with volunteer leaders and professionals of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. After presentations from the chief professional and volunteer officers of the federation, students were paired with individual members of the Atlanta federation delegation for more in-depth discussion of the issues facing this rapidly growing Jewish community and the challenges the federation faces to implement new strategies to engage Jews in Jewish life. There was also time for a more intimate conversation between students and the professionals of this community about their career choices.

The Wurzweiler students returned energized from this conference with added enthusiasm for the Certificate program and commitment to pursue leadership positions in the Jewish community.

Summing up her experience, first-year student Samantha Leapman noted that...
The GA was an opportunity to join our fellow students in seeing our classroom learning experience come alive. With Dr. Andron’s help, we learned about the importance of creating new and innovative ways to engage the Jewish community, paving the way for our future involvement in the larger Jewish community.
Adena Kaplan, 2nd year student added...
Each year, the G.A. provides an ongoing opportunity for young professionals in the field to open their eyes to the depth, strengths, and gaps in the field of Jewish Communal Service. Our trip again reminded me of the enormous but exciting roles there are for us to take on in the field.

(Thanks to Yehezkel Jesin for reporting this story.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Premier of Social Work in Cinema Attracts Alumni, Students

Wednesday, November 7, marked the premier of Wurzweiler's Social Work in the Cinema program. No klieg lights, paparazzi, or fans straining at velvet-covered ropes, but a respectable turnout of students and almuni in Belfer Hall, room 921, where the movie was shown using a a newly installed projector and sound system of exceptional quality. The film was Three Approaches to Psychotherapy (1965), a classic documentary featuring Carl Rodgers, Fritz Pearls, and Albert Ellis. In the movie, each therapist spends a half hour working with a new patient, a woman named Gloria.

After the movie, Wurzweiler faculty member, Dr. Joan Beder, contributed her considerable clinical experience to a panel discussion about the film. The audience was intrigued by Dr. Rodgers' warmth and empathy, and startled--to say the least--by the confrontational style of Dr. Pearls. Because most of the audience was generation X and Y, they were unfamiliar with Pearls' books and the style of therapy he created, called "Gestalt."

The next film showing, on February 6th at 4:00 PM, will be My Name is Bill W., (1989) an HBO production with James Woods and James Garner. Everyone is welcome, and if a sufficient number of people RSVP, we will be able to provide fresh popcorn from an old fashioned movie theater popper. Movies and popcorn are free of charge. Any questions, email

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New Book From Dr. Strug and Others About US Travel Policy, Effect on Cuban-American Families

Love, Loss and Longing: the Impact of U.S. Travel Policy on Cuban-American Families, authored by Jeanne Parr Lemkau and Wurzweiler faculty member, David Strug, was recently co-published by the Latin American Working Group Education Fund and the Washington office on Latin America. This large format book, printed on fine paper, llustrates, through photographs by Nestor Hernandez jr. and Juan E. Gonzalez Lopez, the divisive effcts of US policy toward her island neighbor.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Homeless Speak at Lunch 'n Learn

On Wednesday, October 24, during our ongoing Lunchtime Learning series, a capacity crowd of Wurzweiler students, faculty and staff were joined by members of Picture the Homeless for a discussion about housing and homelessness in New York City. As Wurzweiler Associate Professor Stephen Pimpare said in his introduction,

When social workers and others think about experts to turn to for information about pressing policy issues, we often depend upon our agency heads or supervisors, or elected officials, or think tanks, or the work produced by scholars in books or peer reviewed academic journals. Too often, however, caseworkers and policy-makers alike fail to take seriously the sophisticated policy knowledge that can be found among people we think of merely as clients. But as our guests today will show, our "clients" have much to teach us -- and much to teach the "experts" who create and implement public policy.
PTH Member Rob Robinson and Housing Campaign Director Sam Miller discussed their recent census of abandoned buildings in Manhattan, which revealed that there are currently enough vacant units to house all homeless families, and their successes in getting the Manhattan Borough President and others to take it seriously. They reviewed the history and mission of PTH, showing how a small and "scrappy" organization can achieve real successes, against all odds. And they recounted their unique efforts to create change in New York with a combination of direct action, lobbying and legislative action, and trying to help the City understand the ways in which better coordination across agencies can improve their work.

In a spirited question-and-answer session, Rob discussed his own path from being homeless to being an activist, offered perspectives about how to think about panhandlers in a more three-dimensional way, and encouraged students to find ways for themselves to join PTH and other local activists in working toward making our city a little more humane and a little more just.

Said one student afterwards, "This really makes me think about homelessness and homeless people differently, and I hope we'll do more events like this."

Learn more about PTH by visiting their website at, where you can view videos of their recent actions, download a copy of their report on vacant housing, "Homeless People Count," or read their new Blog, which has been recently reporting on new changes in NYC emergency shelter policy at the PATH site.
(Thanks to Stephen Pimpare for preparing this blog entree!)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Student Government Hosts Panel on Religious Law, Personal Values & Social Work

Students, faculty and administrators crowded into the 9th floor common room on Wednesday, October 17th, to hear a discussion about religious law, personal values and social work. Reverend Dr. Frederick J. Streets, a recent addition to the Wurzweiler faculty, and the former chaplain of Yale University, introduced the featured speaker, Gavriel Fagin, a therapist at Ohel, a New York agency that provides services for abandoned, neglected, abused, and disabled Jewish children, and a doctoral candidate at Wurzweiler.

Fagin, a stout, bearded young man with an expansive and welcoming manner, described two scenarios from his practice, one involving a pregnant adolescent seeking an abortion and a second about a woman considering marital infidelity, and then encouraged the audience to to identify their personal, religious and professional values, as identified in the social work code of ethics, about these dilemmas, and how they would proceed in their own practice.

Following his presentation, the discussion was opened to a panel which included Professor Lynn Levy, Rabbi Dr. Norman Linzer, and Reverend Dr. Streets. The ideas and opinions expressed became grist for class room discussions which continued throughout the afternoon.

This was the first of several "Lunch and Learn" programs scheduled for the semester.

Next Wednesday: a presentation about homelessness in NYC.

Monday, October 1, 2007

New Continuing Ed Classes, Movie Night

A new series of continuing ed classes from 4:00 to 6:00 PM on Mondays, will begin on October 15 and continuing on a weekly basis with a hiatus during winter and spring break. (Click here for a schedule.) Trauma, care-giving, elder-abuse, end of life care, social work ethics, cultural competency, and using the DSM IV are among the topics that will presented by Wurzweiler faculty.

The classes are free for current students, and $20 a class for non-students. Each session is a complete unit in itself, and a person can attend one session, a series, or more. For more information, call 212 960-0801. To register by mail, send your name, address, email, the names of the class(es) you plan to attend, and a check for the total amount ($20 x the number of classes = total) to:

Dr. J. Mellor
WSSW, Yeshiva University
2495 Amsterdam Ave.
NYC, New York 10033

Movies of the Month: Social Work & Cinema

This unusual film program was instituted out of a desire to show and discuss feature length films, both fiction and documentary, which seem to be of outstanding educational value to social work students.

The first of these films, My Name is Bill (1989) an HBO production, is an excellent film with James Woods and James Garner, about the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. This film has been postponed because of a scheduling conflict but will be rescheduled. (Check the Wurzweiler website for the new date)

Movies will be shown from 4:00 to 6:00 on Wednesdays, and will be followed by a discussion group. These evenings are free and popcorn will be served at no charge.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Finding a Way: Ethnic and Cultural Aspects of Multi-Generational Caregiving

On June 6th Yeshiva University students, alumni, educators, joined community agency staffs and administrators for the Annual Aging Conference on caregiving. As in past years, the consortium of sponsoring organizations included Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School, and the Washington Heights & Inwood Council on Aging and Bronx Regional Interagency Council on Aging.

Evelyn Laureano, PhD., a Wurzweiler alumna, emphasized the importance of caregiving in her opening remarks.

Caregiving has always been a universal experience… In this day and age, caregiving has become more than a personal family issue, it is a social cause, an essential element of out health and long-term care system and a concern to policymakers, politicians, employers, insurers, and health care providers.

A panel of experts, caregivers and care recipients spoke about their personal experiences and engaged in questions and dialogue with the conference participants.

Topics covered included

  • cultural variations in providing and receiving care,
  • the impact on nursing home placement on both giver and recipient of care,
  • caregiving at a distance,
  • and immigrant caregiving.

These and other topics continued to be discussed in small groups. (Watch for a follow-up on these discussions later in the summer).

Monday, July 9, 2007

Reverend Frederick J. Streets Joins Wurzweiler Faculty

Reverend Frederick J. Streets joins the Wurzweiler faculty following his service as chaplain of Yale University and senior pastor of the University Church at Yale, positions he held since 1992. Rev. Streets was the first African American and Baptist to hold this position.

He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Yale University and master’s and doctoral degrees in social work from Wurzweiler.

As a consultant to the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma and in conjunction with the mental health community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rev. Streets helped implement a model for the psychiatric and pastoral care of Bosnian citizens traumatized by war. He also traveled to Colombia to promote peace-making and to Argentina to help foster a greater understanding of the nonprofit sector’s relationship to higher education.

Dr. Lowengrub commented, “We are very fortunate to have recruited Rev. Dr. Streets to YU. His presence will significantly add to Wurzweiler’s ever-broadening base in the national and international arenas.”

50th Anniversary Alumni Event in Jerusalem

More than 140 alumni and friends attended a 50th anniversary celebration at YU’s Gruss Campus in Jerusalem at which Sol Green and Naomi Abramowitz were recognized for their contributions to the schools growth and development.

Sol was one of the original faculty members of the school along with Mort Teicher, Chuck Levy and Everett Wilson. He retired in 1988 as Professor Emeritus. Naomi served as a faculty member from 1963 until 1974 when she moved to Israel and joined the faculty of Bar Ilan University which Sol helped establish in 1966.

The program featured a presentation on “Terror & Confidentiality by Norman Linzer who was introduced by Joyce Brenner ’76,’83, Sue Freedman’76 was the discussant. Sol was introduced by Stanley Schneider, ‘72

Wurzweiler Alums Take leadership Role at World Council of Jewish Communal Service

Wurzweiler Alumni played important leadership roles in the 11th Quadrennial Conference of the World Council of Jewish Communal Service in Jerusalem, June 24-26, 2007.

Max Kleinman ’76, President of the World Council; Jacob Solomon, ’81 Program Chair; and Ted Comet, ’69 Executive Vice President of the Council are all alumni of Wurwzeiler's Program in Jewish Communal Service.

Dr. Norman Linzer ’60, a senior member of the Wurzweiler faculty, appeared on the program along with numerous other Wurzweiler Alumni.

Wurzweiler hosted a reception for the more than 700 Conference attendees from 32 countries, on the opening evening of the conference in honor of our 50th anniversary.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Wurzweiler Prof on Fox 5 News

On May 5th, Wurzweiler professor Jonathan Fast appeared on "Good Day: Street Talk" to discuss violence in schools. In this clip he talks about his theory of "ceremonial violence."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Jewish Communal Service students visit the Jewish Week

On Wednesday, May 9, students in Wurzweiler's Jewish
Communal Service Program visited the Times Square
office of the New York Jewish Week. As the largest
Jewish newspaper in the United States, the Jewish Week
has a powerful influence on American Jewish public
opinion. Joined by Professors Saul Andron, Lynne Levy
and Norman Linzer, students engaged in a discussion
with editor and publisher Gary Rosenblatt, managing
editor Robert Goldblum, and assistant managing editor
Adam Dickter about how these journalists deal with
such a grave responsibility.

All three newspapermen spoke openly of the criticism
the paper has sometimes received for its coverage of
sensitive issues, the conflict between serving the
Jewish community and engaging in lashon hara (hurtful
gossip), the challenge of keeping current in an age of
high-speed Internet and blogs, and the personal
rewards of having a story that was printed in the
paper result in relief and assistance to fellow Jews
in need. Students left with many new ideas and issues
to think about as they looked toward a new year of
study and service in the Jewish communal world.
(Thanks to Robert Lebowitz for reporting this even)

50th Anniversary Conference Huge Success

Wurzweiler School of Social Work recently celebrated it's 50th anniversary with a three day conference at the Sheratan New York in midtown Manhattan. Presenters included the foremost names in social work scholarship, alumni from the top ranks of social service agencies in America and around the world, doctoral students, and current MSW students. Each period offered attendees a choice of intellectually stimulating workshops, panels, and paper presentations.

The festivities were topped off by a gala dinner on Sunday night with guest speakers including Congressman Charlie Rangel, of New York's 15th congressional district, and Yeshiva University President, Richard Joel.

Wurz in Top 10: Most Productive Profs

A recent study shows that professors at Wurzweiler School of Social Work are in the top ten of American colleges and universities in the number of scholarly works published between 1999 and 2003.

The study was conducted by Jan Ligon at Georgia State University, D. Lynn Jackson at University of North Texas, and Bruce Thyer at Florida State University.

The six social work journals they examined were:
  • Journal of Social Service research
  • Social Work
  • Social Service Review
  • Journal of Social Work Education
  • Child Welfare
  • Families in Society
These are considered six of the most prestigious journals in the field because they are competitive, carefully edited and rigorously peer reviewed.

The article, Academic affiliations of social work journal authors from 1999 to 2003: A productivitity analysis spanning 25 years of social work scholarship, was published in the Journal of Social Service Research, Volume 33, Issue 3, in 2007. Identical studies have been published every year five years since 1999.

The top ten producers of scholarly work were:
  1. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  2. Columbia University
  3. Washington University
  4. Virginia Commonwealth University
  5. University of Michigan
  6. University of Washington
  7. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  8. Yeshiva University
  9. University of Tennessee
  10. Boston University
  11. University of Kansas
  12. Fordham University