Touro’s Graduate School of Social Work Sponsors 21st Annual NEFESH International Conference
Dean Huberman Announces NEFESH International Scholarship
Touro’s Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) was a key sponsor of the 21st annual NEFESH International Mental Health Conference held in Hauppauge, NY over the weekend of Dec. 21. NEFESH International—a network and training association of Orthodox mental health professionals, rabbis and educators—brought together hundreds of practitioners from around the world for the conference.
Delivering a keynote during the first evening, GSSW Dean Steven Huberman spoke 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. “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. Dean Huberman recently received the “Top Leadership Award,” from the New York chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
Dean Huberman also announced a NEFESH International scholarship for students at GSSW.
“Funding will never be a barrier for continuing your education at Touro,” Dr. Huberman told the crowd.
Among the attendees of the conference were 16 GSSW students whose membership and accommodations were sponsored by the school.
“Our relationship with NEFESH International grows each year,” stated Miriam Turk, Jewish outreach liaison and recruitment director for GSSW and who also serves as NEFESH International 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 Jewish community.”
“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.”
GSSW students and faculty were also among the presenters at the conference.
A member of the first male cohort class at Touro’s GSSW, Binyamin Nussbaum delivered a poster presentation on scrupulosity, an extreme obsession with religious practices. An example Nussbaum provided was being unable to enter a room unless the door’s mezuzah was kissed a dozen times. Nussbaum, together with GSSW professor Dr. Steven Pirutinsky, who presented on their study later in the evening, found that the behavior corresponded with an underlying negative assumption about God.
“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.”