The ‘University of Yachad’ is Coming, 10/15, for Staff and Visitors

19 Sep 2012

The “University of Yachad” Is Coming

The University of Yachad, with its distinguished faculty and its bright and dedicated students, will present its first course on Monday, October 15 on a campus located in a large conference room at Orthodox Union headquarters. Tuition is very reasonably priced; admission requires no SAT’s but lots of prior knowledge; and what is learned in the classroom can be put into practice that very day. The faculty and the students know each other very well.

Just to note, there is no football team.

Actually, there is no University of Yachad either. Rather, Yachad | Jewish Disabilities Integration/National Jewish Council for Disabilities, the agency of the Orthodox Union whose mission is the Inclusion of all persons with disabilities in every aspect of Jewish life, encompassing all denominations and traditions, will begin its outstanding, new Continuing Education and Professional Development Series 2012-2013, on October 15, a week following the conclusion of the autumn cycle of Jewish holidays.

The series will meet on seven Mondays, once a month through April 8, as a post-graduate level continuing education program in which Yachad senior staff, replete with Ph.D’s, PsyD’s and advanced social work degrees; joined by a visiting lecturer with a J.D. (law); will teach clinicians and leadership from outside agencies, as well provide in-service education to their colleagues from Yachad and other OU departments. The Yachad contingent will include some 30 interns from colleges and universities in the New York area who are assigned to Yachad for their field work.

The series is the brainchild of Deborah Berman, LCSW, Senior Social Worker of Yachad/NJCD, who realized that the breadth of knowledge and experience on the Yachad staff was such that the relationship of supervisor and colleague could easily be made into a teacher/student relationship as well. “We really make it work and each of us is dedicated to the agency,” Ms. Berman says. “With the diversity of fields and expertise at Yachad, we can learn from each other and continue to grow and continue to remain on the cutting edge of the movement for Inclusion of everyone in the Jewish community.”

She delivered that message to Yachad/NJCD Director Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, who for some time had been considering developing such a program, and he gave her the go-ahead to create the series. Calling on her colleagues for their input and expertise, she availed herself of the wide range of Yachad staff specialties — psychological counseling, day hab, organizational management, employment training and the like — so that a full panoply of sessions could be offered.

Deborah Berman, LCSW

Ms. Berman has a staggeringly detailed record of achievement, not only at Yachad, but as former Chief of the Outpatient Adult Behavioral Health Program at Interfaith Medical Center; as the humanities scholar-in-residence of the ORTZA Institute in Northern Spain; as well as working closer to home as a psychotherapist at the Brooklyn Center for Psychotherapy in Park Slope and the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation.

She has a private psychotherapy practice in Greenwich Village; provides clinical training to Masters-level candidates, seminary students, and rabbis from diverse denominations; and lectures extensively in the United States and abroad on a wide variety of subjects dealt with by mental health professionals. These include ethics; multidisciplinary collaboration; and the clinical treatment of disorders such as depression, anxiety, trauma, grief and bereavement, addictions, and mood and thought disorders.

She has a Master’s Degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work with a specialization in disability and clinical practice and holds a B.A. in Jewish studies with special focus on Jewish contributions to American social justice movements of the Twentieth Century, particularly the Disability Rights Movement.

With such a background, Ms. Berman serves as Provost of Yachad University – actually, Lecture Series Producer. The faculty includes:

• Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director of Yachad, a Yeshiva University-trained clinical psychologist who has built Yachad into a state of the art model program for persons with natural variations in abilities, while at the same time fostering their Inclusion in the Jewish community;

• Dr. Joe Goldfarb, Assistant Director of Yachad/NJCD and Director of the organization’s National and Summer Programs, who received his Ph.D. in Clinical and School Psychology from Hofstra University, and whose specific areas of focus include cognitive-behavioral treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders, and who is an adjunct faculty member at Touro College.

• Departmental colleagues Amanda Levy, LCSW; Chani Hermann, MSW; Nicole Bodner, LMSW; Dr. Deborah Mann, PsyD; Rebecca Schrag, MSW; Michael Appelbaum, MPA

• Visiting disability historian Warren Shaw, J.D.

The program is being marketed by The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) on its website.

Deborah Berman explains, “I developed Yachad’s first-ever formal lecture series not only for training within Yachad and the OU, but also to host an advanced educational opportunity for other prominent organizations and accomplished clinical practitioners — Jewish and not — working in the Disability Inclusion Movement.

“Yachad offers a plethora of supportive and enriching services and programs for persons with diverse abilities and challenges. Accordingly, I designed the series as a sweeping group of seven postgraduate-level presentations by Yachad’s eminent practitioners and educators who will cover topics ranging from clinical interventions that buttress healthy sibling and family dynamics; to the practical application of therapeutic techniques for persons with cognitive challenges; to the topics of sexuality and relationships.”

According to Ms. Berman, the series also reflects, in part, the rich, hundred-year-old social work profession’s undeniable presence as a thriving and legitimate force in which “training today is very diverse and extremely rigorous,” with the goal of helping clients “to decide on their goals and to achieve them.” She notes that social work today encompasses clinical practice (she is a clinician as much as she is an administrator), as well as advocacy, social service, community organization, agency management, policy, and counseling, all of which are part of the purview of the advanced professional. History factors in as well – the OU series includes “The New York City Origins of the American Disability Rights Movement – An Historical and Family Exploration of the Hard-Won Street Battles for Physical Accessibility and Inclusion Policy in the United States,” the topic for the February 11, 2013 session.

The Yachad staff and interns will not be required to write term papers or take tests, Ms. Berman says. However, “they will be expected to incorporate what they’ve learned in the work they do with their clients, or for the interns, in their further studies.”

After all, what else is the purpose of a university than to use learning for the benefit of humanity? The mythical University of Yachad has that as its goal.

The course is available to those from outside of Yachad for $40 a session (no-fee for employees of the OU); an ASL interpreter will be provided on request with seven days advance notice. The building, lecture hall and nearby bathrooms are wheelchair accessible.
For further information or to register for one or more lectures, contact Deborah Berman, LCSW at {encode=”” title=””}, call 212-613-8229/8172, or visit

The series sessions are as follows:

Monday, October 15, 2012 (registration deadline Monday, October 8, 2012)
“Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Counseling Techniques in Working with Individuals with Cognitive and/or Emotional Challenges”
Lecturer: Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director, Yachad/NJCD
Discussant: Dr. Joe Goldfarb, Assistant Director, Yachad/NJCD

Monday, November 12, 2012 (registration deadline Friday, November 2, 2012)
“Reframing the ‘Difficult’ Family – Practical Clinical Techniques and Interventions to Understand, Empower, and Ally Families with Mental Health Challenges, Cognitive Disabilities, and Cultural Barriers”
Lecturer: Amanda Levy, LCSW, Coordinator, Family and Clinical Services, Yachad/NJCD
Discussant: Chani Herrmann, MSW, Director, New Jersey Yachad

Monday, December 10, 2012 (registration deadline Friday, November 30, 2012)
“The Language We Use – Appropriate and Accurate Clinical Terminology, Phraseology, and Professionalism when Describing and Assessing Clients with Disabilities”
Lecturer: Dr. Joe Goldfarb, Assistant Director, Director Yachad/NJCD
Discussant: Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director, Yachad/NJCD

Monday, January 14, 2013 (registration deadline Friday, January 4, 2013)
“Sexuality, Relationships, and Marriage — Developmental Challenges and the Desire for Love, Closeness, and Companionship”
Lecturer: Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director, Yachad/NJCD
Discussant: Nicole Bodner, LMSW, Director of New York Yachad/NJCD

Monday, February 11, 2013 (registration deadline Friday, February 1, 2013)
“The New York City Origins of the American Disability Rights Movement – An Historical and Family Exploration of the Hard-Won Street Battles for Physical Accessibility and Inclusion Policy in the U.S.”
Lecturer: Warren Shaw, J.D., Disability Historian, Author
Discussant: Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director, Yachad/NJCD

Monday, March 4, 2013 (registration deadline Friday, February 22, 2013)
“Effective Collaboration with Other Agencies — Representing Your Organization and Navigating the System to Promote the Best Interest of Your Clients with Disabilities”
Lecturers/Panel: Dr. Deborah Mann, Director of School Programs, Yachad/NJCD Schools; Nicole Bodner, LMSW, Director, New York Yachad; Michael Appelbaum, Director, Day Hab, Yachad/NJCD
Discussant: Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director, Yachad/NJCD

Monday, April 8, 2013 (registration deadline Friday, March 29, 2013)
“Addressing Siblings’ Needs – Group Therapy and Clinical Interventions for Sisters and Brothers of Children with Disabilities”
Lecturer: Chani Herrmann, MSW, Director, New Jersey Yachad
Discussant: Rebecca Schrag, MSW, Program Director, Senior Yachad

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