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Friday, February 23, 2018

Dean Dr. Steven Huberman with NEFESH international co-chairs Chaim Sender and Lisa Twerski.

(Courtesy of Touro GSSW) Touro’s Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) is launching a new Nefesh International scholarship for students at the school. The news was announced at the 21st annual Nefesh International Mental Health Conference held recently in Hauppauge, New York.

Nefesh International—a network and training association of Orthodox social workers, mental health professionals, rabbis and educators—brought together hundreds of practitioners from around the world for the conference, of which the GSSW was a key sponsor.

Delivering a keynote during the first evening, GSSW Dean Dr. Steven Huberman told the crowd, “Funding will never be a barrier for continuing your education at Touro.”

Sixteen GSSW students attended, with membership fees and accommodations sponsored by the school. The new Touro social work scholarship will enable students, nominated by Nefesh members, to work as clinicians in agencies serving the Jewish community.

“One person can make a difference,” Huberman explained, adding that the help of benefactors and mentors enabled him to pursue his career and embrace his religious faith. In speaking about his own journey to becoming a leader in the social work field, he recounted his troubled upbringing and the poverty he endured as a child. Recently he recently received the “Top Leadership Award” from the National Association of Social Workers-New York City Chapter.

“Natural Collaborators”

“Our relationship with Nefesh International grows each year,” stated Miriam Turk, GSSW’s outreach liaison and recruitment director, Jewish community, who also serves as Nefesh executive director. “Nefesh International provides further training and continuing education to many of GSSW’s alumni and students. Together Touro and Nefesh International are natural collaborators in developing social workers for the Orthodox Jewish community.”

The students attending applauded the efforts put forth at the conference, where both students and faculty presented. “It really solidified why I came into this line of work,” explained

GSSW student Rivkah R. Drebin about the conference.

“It’s a great opportunity for both professionals and soon-to-be professionals,” said GSSW student Sarah Kaplan. “You can feel the passion for the field of mental health here.”

Binyamin Nussbaum, a member of the first Touro social work male cohort class, delivered a poster presentation on religion and mental health. Nussbaum, who together with GSSW professor Dr. Steven Pirutinsky, who presented on their study later in the evening, explored the relationship between religiosity and mental well-being.

“Touro has been amazing for me,” said Nussbaum, who is doing his internship with seniors at the Jewish Federation of Oceanside. “It’s given us all so many opportunities. Touro want us to succeed.”

Dean Huberman concluded, “Nefesh and the Touro Graduate School of Social Work have a unique partnership at every level to strengthen Klal Yisrael—the Jewish people.”