[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Four Sons Make Aliyah
Sharon Katz, March 2009
( originally published in Voices Magazine)
There are four sons in every family – especially families that make Aliyah. The wise son has got the smarts, social skills and the ability to make it everywhere. The wicked son is upset that his parents have uprooted him from his previous life, gets hooked up with the wrong crowd and is negative about everything concerning his new life in Israel. The simple son is beginning to flounder in school. He’s not clever enough to be make it into the in crowd, and yet he’s not a bad boy, and is wavering. Then there’s the one who doesn’t know how to ask. He’s got problems, but doesn’t know who to ask for help or what kind of help he needs.
Any of these sons, even the wise one, could have different levels of trouble adjusting to their new lives in Israel. B”H, there’s an organization ready to help these young people and insure that their Aliyah is a success, and their integration into Israeli society is a positive one.
Helping the Four Sons
Kav L’Noar has been helping adolescents and teens for the past five and a half years. The majority are Anglo-olim, but they’ve got new immigrants from other countries, as well, plus some Israelis coming to them for help.
The organization, located right in the heart of Jerusalem, 25 Keren Hayesod, across from the famous Israel Center, deals with young people’s difficulties with a very holistic approach – a “family systems model”, working with the parents as well as the children. Often, they find that teens’ problems stem from other situations around them – parenting issues, marriage issues, abuse issues. Well, the four sons didn’t end up different just because of nature.
And while Kav L’Noar offers traditional individual and family counseling, plus lectures and workshops in different areas around Greater Jerusalem, its mentoring program has been the most popular.
Kav L’Noar’s Sharon Feifer noted, “There’s usually not just a problem with the child. It’s family dynamics and the child needs a positive role model.”
Voices spoke to Kav L’Noar mentoring supervisor Sima Gordon about the program.
Unlike other worthy organizations that provide mentors for children, Kav L’Noar’s mentors are paid, trained in a very specific way, and required to meet with their mentee twice a week for an hour and a half. They go through “a very harrowing selection process” and are teamed with kids according to their personality, interest, similarity in backgrounds and hashkafa (life outlook).
Mentors are supervised, attend personal development workshops, and also required to attend sessions every six weeks with other mentors.
Teens are suggested for the Mentor Program after being evaluated by Kav LeNoar therapists. The program is finite, and children understand that when they progress in their personal development, their mentoring program will be completed.
The mentor’s job is to build a relationship with the child that will help them learn trust, and will grow into something really sincere. Sima Gordon noted that some mentors are in touch with their mentees from five years ago.
Kav L’Noar Director Ron Wachtel noted that “mentoring is used in education for teachers – seasoned teachers and new teachers. It’s also used in business, etc. It’s a paradigm that works. The results and success are amazing. When you have someone who gives you a shoulder to lean on, validates you, accepts you for whom you are, it positively affects you in many ways.”
Mentoring successes have helped all four types of sons in their Aliyah experiences and have prevented or reduced school dropout rates, improved kids’ performances in school, prevented and reduced at-risk behavior, strengthened family relationships and improved teens’ self-images.
Tova Rina Rosenblum mentors two teenagers, both olim from Europe. Each experience is very different, and Tova Rina is a different type of mentor for each one. One of the girls is an only child from a divorced family. The child’s mother works full time, and Tova Rina is the big sister she never had, doing arts and crafts with her, and even influencing her mother to find a more appropriate school for her.
Her second mentee comes from a big family and is acting our in rebellious ways, trying to stand out from the crowd in her home. Tova Rina takes walks with her and is constantly tested by this mentee’s at-risk behavior. She told Voices, “I feel a large responsibility on my shoulders, but Hashem sends me the right things to say.”
Mentor Supervisor Sima Gordon explained, “Each person needs warmth. They’re people going through a hard time, and our mentors can treat them with warmth without diminishing their professionalism.”
Sharon Feifer added, “A lot of mentees have a lot of social interaction problems. Mentors help them develop the social skills they lack.”
Ron explained, “The mentors are a positive role model that had ‘their issues’ and overcame them. They are leading productive lives and through them, their mentees see there’s a future here. I can get over these issues and be productive too.
Sima concluded, “There are some skills that can’t be learned in a classroom. The mentor program passes on those skills.”