Battling bullying in a yeshiva setting has unique challenges not found in public schools, according to Dr. Steven Glicksman.
These include the economic realities of private schooling, and the schools’ concerns about their reputations.
“The parents of both the bullies and the victims are both paying tuition,” said Glicksman, who has a private practice in Teaneck. “Plus, in an environment where yeshivas compete with each other, schools don’t want to risk having a reputation of having a bullying problem.”
Glicksman spoke March 2 at a Parenting University program held at the Sephardic Bikur Holim in Deal. The program was one in a series of five parenting programs to be held at SBH in conjunction with the Manhattan-based Orthodox Union.
This is the first time the Deal SBH, a mainstay of the area’s Syrian Jewish community, collaborated on programming with the OU, whose affiliated synagogues tend to be Ashkenazi.
Jewish schools can make great strides in combating bullying if students learn to take a broader approach to the concept of hesed, or good deeds, Glicksman said.
“We teach our children to do hesed, but oftentimes they don’t understand that hesed is not just limited to their five mandatory hesed hours,” the psychologist told the audience. “Kids sometimes feel they fulfill their hesed requirement within their hesed program, but that it has nothing to do with that kid they think is a ‘spaz’ who they steal lunch money from.”
Since 2000 the Orthodox Union has offered Jewish parenting programs, typically sponsored by schools and synagogues affiliated with the organization.
Lecture topics were developed by SBH to address issues of particular interest to the Syrian community, and the OU located relevant speakers to lead the discussions, said Frank Buchweitz, OU’s national director of community services and special projects.
“We were delighted to get a call from Sephardic Bikur Holim asking to collaborate on the series in Deal,” he said. “It is with great enthusiasm that the Orthodox Union brings its highly successful parenting programs to Deal as it strengthens its ties with the Syrian community.”
In January, Dr. David Lieberman spoke about helping children become leaders. On April 6 licensed social worker Lauren Roth will discuss empowering children to be socially successful; on May 4 school psychologist Ruchie Harary will discuss ways for parents to grow closer to their children. And on June 1, a Monmouth County detective will present guidelines on keeping children safe over the summer.
For audience member Sherryl Betesh, the parenting series offers enrichment tools that help her face everyday challenges, she told NJJN.
“These sorts of programs teach mind management that help empower the way I express my feelings. If I take one technique from today and use it to interact better with someone who is bullying me verbally, I will be able to diffuse the situation better,” said Betesh, a mother of four who lives in the Sephardi neighborhood of Eatontown.
The collaboration between OU and SBH was well received by Betesh, particularly the sessions that link psychology and Torah.
“I think people outside the Syrian community sometimes think that because we are so self-contained that we don’t have an interest in sharing. I can attest that this is not true. We have a lot to offer as a community, but we also have so much to learn from the older Ashkenazi communities….”