This week, a first-of-its-kind event took place at the Sara Schenirer Institute as the inaugural cohort of the Masters in Social Work Leadership Program met for an intensive two-day orientation.
With the Jewish community experiencing incredible growth, the need for competent mental health professionals has become ever more apparent; with demand far outpacing the supply.
Thanks to the partnership between Sara Schenirer and the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, in 2018, a rigorous social work program ensuring hashkafic suitability was established, bringing top-notch professionals back into our communities.
This, however, was deemed insufficient, as a serious void still existed. Rabbonim, menahalim, principals, and askonim are usually the first called on for support in difficult situations, yet their lack of formal training leaves them unprepared and untrained for situations that are potentially life-altering. Compounding the problem is the reality that MSW programs are full-time programs which makes it virtually impossible for them to participate.
Addressing this glaring need became a high priority, and in 2021, Sara Schenirer and Wurzweiler collaborated to create a specialized new track to allow leaders in the community to continue actively working in their current positions while earning their degrees. Offered fully online and over an extended period of time, the program is ideal for busy leaders for whom flexibility and adaptability are key.
The inaugural cohort is composed of an outstanding group of students, among them prestigious rabbonim, experienced school principals, lay leaders, and student advisors. Their enthusiasm for this opportunity is palpable and the widespread sentiment among their new professors is that their future contributions to the Jewish community will be monumental.