The Orthodox Union and Shalom Task Force drew more than 180 community leaders to a conference on “Keeping Couples Connected,” at the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst.
The full-day program featured presentations by rabbanim, mental health professionals, mediators, and attorneys exploring the foundations of healthy relationships. Areas covered included mental health, compatibility, conflict, physical intimacy, domestic abuse, and legal matters.
“Very often, as leaders — the rabbis, rebbetzins, chosson and kallah teachers, the mental health providers and the educators — you are the first responders for couples in your shuls, in your classes, in your offices and classrooms and homes,” said Avital Levin, LMSW, director of education for Shalom Task Force.
Lisa Twerski, LCSW (author of “I’m So Confused, am I being Abused?”) spoke about what people look for in dating and relationships. Dr. Chani Maybruch detailed best practices for encouraging close emotional bonds in new couples. Pamela Klein, LCSW, and Dr. Binyamin Tepfer spoke of the importance of teaching couples to have healthy intimacy. Meir Rizel, MS, LMHC, and his wife, Aviva Rizel, MA, LMFT, spoke about their work with couples who experienced trauma.
Dr. Isaac Schechter and Levin, in a joint session, engaged in a discussion about religiousness in relationships and suggested approaches to use with couples or individuals going through marital difficulties due to religious changes.
In his workshop, “Fighting Fairly,” Rabbi Doniel Frank spoke about facilitating effective strategies for conflict resolution. Rabbi Shmuel Maybruch discussed counseling those struggling with issues involving pornography, stressing the importance of the therapeutic relationship and ending with a reference to the need to reconnect to a Torah way of life.
A discussion about legal issues was led by Rachel Marks, Esq., Shalom Task Force board member; Erin Bistricer, staff attorney for Sarah’s Voice (legal department of Shalom Task Force); and Evan Genack.
In a workshop on pastoral counseling, David Kohn, LCSW, and Rabbi Yaakov Trump used real-life case studies to illustrate the role of a rabbi or rebbetzin when issues of domestic abuse arise. Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum endorsed Shalom Workshops, recommending that every engaged couple participate in the program.