Nefesh Chicago is constantly developing new ways to serve the needs of the Jewish community in the Chicagoland area. Please check out upcoming events and browse through the past events Nefesh Chicago has provided for the community.


The Healing Power of Playfulness and Imagination in the Treatment of Trauma


Learn the role of imagination, playfulness, and creativity with world renowned Dr. Mooli Lahad. He has authored 35 books covering topics such as community recovery and rehabilitation following disasters, coping with life-threatening situations, resiliency, and the integration of art therapies in post-disaster treatment. Dr. Lahad is credited with developing the Israeli Psychotrauma treatment protocol SEE FAR CBT used in countries around the globe.

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Event Details

Sunday, Febuary 25, 2024 /15 Adar I, 5784 Event at 10:00am-12:00pm CST/11:00-1:00pm EST/6pm-8:00pm Israel Time

CE/CEU’s provided by Core Wellness

Where: Zoom (Link will be provided after registration)


General Rate (Includes 2 CE/CEU’s for Dr. Lahad):


Rate without CE/CEU’s:


Testimonials about our trainings

Click on Titles Below for More Information

Early Career Networking Event (Summary to be posted — Explore other recent events in the meantime)

Post-Trauma Healing and Growth Event (Summary to be posted — Explore other recent events in the meantime)

Therapists Rising to the Challenge of COVID-19:

SE® (Somatic Experiencing ®) Training to Support Healing from Trauma


Presenter: Gina Ross, MFCC
Founder and President
International Trauma-Healing Institute

On Monday, May 25th, 2020/ 2 Sivan 5780, mental health professionals, first responders, and community leaders were treated to a complimentary training to support healing from trauma in response to COVID-19 led by Gina Ross, MFCC. Gina Ross, MFCC, is Founder and President of the International Trauma-Healing Institute (ITI-USA) and of its Israeli branch, ITI-Israel. She introduced and has been teaching SE® (Somatic Experiencing®) in the Middle East for the last 20 years. She is the co-founder of the Israeli Center for the Treatment of Psycho-Trauma in Jerusalem and an international senior trainer and practitioner of SE® , teaching in the Americas and the Middle East. She designed her SE® based EmotionAid®, and is the creator of Free From Conflict, a unique protocol she has developed for conflict resolution, with an emotional foundation. She is the author of a series of 7 books on trauma: Beyond the Trauma Vortex into the Healing Vortex.

Dr. Shabad Presentation on Unresolved Childhood Grief and Shame (Summary to be posted — Explore other recent events in the meantime)

How to Help Clients Navigate the Civil & Halachic Divorce Process

By Fraida Nathan, LCSW, CADC, ICDVP and Esther Chaya Perman, LSW


Challenging the stereotype of the contentious divorce, Nefesh Chicago invited a panel of
experts to explain the divorce process for community leaders. On January 3, 2021 Rabbi Yona
Reiss, head of the Beis Din (Court of Jewish Law) at the Chicago Rabbinical Council and
himself an attorney, was joined by Ellen Barron Feldman, J.D., and Debra Horberg, J.D., to
address mental health professionals and clergy, regarding how to help clients navigate the civil
and Jewish divorce processes.

When to Inform Your Attorney about a Gett

After Rabbi Reiss, Av Beis Din, detailed the process of giving and acquiring a Gett, he stated
that from a Torah perspective a man or woman should not feel stigmatized when a divorce is
called for. Rabbi Reiss added that all issues, including financial agreements and child support,
can be determined in the Beis Din through arbitration.

Rabbi Reiss explained that the Gett is an integral part of the Jewish divorce process; without it,
any subsequent marital relationships by the divorced individuals are considered adulterous. This
situation would have irrevocable consequences for the legitimacy of future children. As a
preventative measure, it is best to communicate the need for a Gett with one’s attorney as early
in the divorce process as possible. With this understanding, the attorney can build better legal
documents to protect their client.

Mediation and Collaborative Processes 

Debra Horberg, J.D. and Ellen Feldman, J.D. explained, there are alternatives to the traditional
litigation processes of divorce: mediation and collaborative divorce. Mediation is when a neutral
party, usually an attorney or mental health professional, facilitates agreements between the two
parties. This process can be both voluntary or court-ordered and can take place prior to hiring
attorneys. Mediation can also be used pre-litigation to discuss and resolve some of the issues.
The collaborative divorce process, like mediation, also takes place outside of court, but typically
is comprised of a team of 5-6 people: an attorney representing each spouse, a neutral mental
health professional, and sometimes a neutral financial coach – each with their associated fees.
Which Scenarios Benefit from the Litigation

Though mediation and collaborative may yield a quicker divorce process, litigation is sometimes
called for. Litigation is the preferred method for those impacted by domestic abuse, and/or
where there is a significant power differential between spouses, with one side unable to properly

For anyone considering alternative styles of divorce, it is important to note that if the
collaborative process stalls and is at an impasse, the appointed attorneys are not allowed to
continue to represent their clients. A new attorney is now required. For those who want an
amicable divorce and are in agreement regarding major issues, mediation can be a useful
option. Even in high-conflict situations, mediation can work, so long as the parties are able to
keep their focus on a peaceful future for family members.

Indecision: What Follows?

When spouses are uncertain as to whether they wish to separate or save the marriage, mental
health professionals can help their clients by directing them to “discernment counseling” to
assist their decision making.

If one or both spouses still feels that the marriage is no longer tenable, either because of some
type of domestic abuse or due to any number of irreconcilable situations, it is wise to consult
with several different attorneys to determine the best fit for the needs and specifics of the

The “winners” in divorce are the parties that manage to get through the process with the least
damage done to their families, and best chances for moving forward peacefully.
Testimonial: “This Nefesh Chicago training increased my knowledge base and my confidence in
guiding clients who are on the cusp of divorce.” Chicago-area therapist


Speaker: Gina Ross, MFCC

The EmotionAid 10-minute training can be listened to below.

Emotional Wellness Programs

Nefesh Chicago and Chicago Center for Torah and Chesed’s Refuah 311 partnered to provide the Chicago area kehillah a series of 9 Zoom emotional wellness programs. Each speaker was a licensed and respected clinician. Nefesh Chicago was honored to work with Mr. Josh Ford, Refuah 311’s Director of Mental Health.

Internet & Social Media Addiction

Speaker: Rabbi Dr. Yosef Shagalow, Psy.D., LP.

On Sunday, February 23, 2020/ 28 Shevat 5780, the mental health professionals and community were privileged to hear 2 lectures by the esteemed Rabbi Dr. Yosef Shagalow, Psy.D., LP.. The first presentation, The Fallout of Internet Addiction, The Path to Healing Internet Addiction, Addressing All Parties Involved was geared toward Mental Health Professionals. Rabbi Dr. Shagalow’s second presentation was open to the community and had the topic, “I’m in a relationship with my phone, can it be healthy?” This community-wide event discusses what our relationship with the internet should look like, how internet use can turn into a full-fledged addiction, and practical safeguards. He also addresses how to have this conversation with ourselves and our families.

Speed Networking for Mental Health Professionals

Speaker: Nachum B. Klafter, MD.

The mental health professionals speed networking event in January 2020 at Evita Argentinian Steakhouse was a success. See for yourself.

Robert Lebovits, PH.D., Discusses Treatment in the 21st Century

Speaker: Robert Lebovits, PH.D.

Dr. Robert Lebovitz returned to speak for Nefesh Chicago on November 17, 2019 / 19 Cheshvan 5780. He presented two engaging presentations. His first session was From Baby Boomers to Millennials, A Tale of Polar Generations: Diversity of Sensibilities, Needs & Issues. His second session was Rethinking the Delivery of Services: Is It Time for a 21st Century Treatment Delivery Model? The lectures were well received and spurred conversation by the participants.

Early Career Professionals Meet & Greet Dinner

Speakers: Yehuda Krohn, Psy.D, & Fraida Nathan, LCSW, CADC, ICDVP

On Sunday, October 14, seasoned clinicians Yehuda Krohn, Psy.D, & Fraida Nathan, LCSW, CADC, ICDVP, spoke on “10 Commandments of Therapists Who Heal” & “The DNA of Therapeutic Engagement” respectively. These valuable presentations were informative and brief, allowing for sufficient networking time.

Understanding and Treating Personality Disorders (Part II)

Speaker: Nachum B. Klafter, MD.

Nefesh Chicago was thrilled to have Janice Goldfein, LCSW come and speak to our professionals on April 22, 2018, about therapeutic disconnects and errors. Janice Goldfein provided a safe platform for mental health professionals to raise and discuss some less-than-shiny therapeutic moments. Not only did she do a magnificent job presenting this material in a down-to-earth and professional fashion, she also offered unique case examples directly related to being a religious mental health professional. Janice reassured newer and seasoned therapists alike that sometimes the timing of the most brilliant interventions can just be off. She taught the crowd how to minimize those moments as well as navigate a wide variety of situations. She emphasized the importance of supervision and consultation, while reminding the attendees that as it says in Pirkei Avot, “lo habayshan lomed.” If we are overcome with shame over our therapeutic disconnects, we cannot properly learn and move forward. Therapists are human beings, and even those who regularly provide support to others have their good and bad days. The reassurance and pointers offered to clinicians ultimately encourages them to provide even more optimally for their clients’ needs.

The Damaged Core:
Understanding and Treating Personality Disorders (Part I)

Speaker: Nachum B. Klafter, MD.

Bringing in experts is one way Nefesh fortifies its local training. On Sunday, Oct. 29, Nefesh welcomed board member Dr. Nachum Klafter, director of the Advanced Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Training Program at the Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute and director of Psychotherapy Training at the University of Cincinnati’s Psychiatry Residency Training Program. This visit is the first of his two-part series, “The Damaged Core: Understanding and Treating Personality Disorders;”

Session I featured topics included “What is personality, and what is a personality disorder?”, “Cluster A Disorders: Patents who are paranoid and aloof”, “Antisocial Personality – any role for therapists?”. Session II featured the topic, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?: Normal Narcissism and the Narcissistic Personality”.

Klafter’s own education embodies Nefesh’s two-prong approach. He studied at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and New York’s Yeshivat Darchei Noam. He also completed his psychiatry residency at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he served as chief resident.

“Healing Intergenerational Wounds: A Relational-Neuro biological Approach to Transform Family Relationships.”

Speaker: Dr. Mona DeKoven Fishbane, PhD.

This June, Nefesh Chicago, invited Dr. Mona DeKoven Fishbane, PhD. to speak about the relationship between innate biological tendencies and family interactions, Dr. Fishbane discussed ways of creating lasting change. With an impressive command of the most recent neurobiology research, she shared key insights about the extraordinary influence our habits exert on our biological chemistry.  Her cutting edge presentation provided the hopeful view that family members can actually break free of seemingly locked and damaging patterns. Referring to her new book, Loving with the Brain in Mind: Neurobiology & Couple Therapy, Dr. Fishbane shared that while “we are shaped by nature (genetics), we are amplified by how we are treated.” Read the full article featured in Hamodia Magazine Here

Early Professionals’ BBQ

Nefesh Chicago’s Early Professionals BBQ. Nefesh Chicago presented Building Your Career a casual BBQ & Networking for early mental health professionals and graduate students in mental health.

Seminary Savvy Lecture

Speaker: Debbie Fox, LCSW

Debbie Fox, LCSW, author of Seminary Savvy gave a special interactive workshop geared toward senior high school girls. Mrs. Fox taught practical skills to a large group of girls planning to go to an Israeli seminary during the upcoming school year. She helped each get in touch with her natural instincts in order to prevent compromising situations while abroad. The program was interactive, and the girls were extraordinarily appreciative of the programming that Nefesh Chicago provided for them. Read the full article featured in Hamodia Magazine here.

Reinforcing Healthy Boundaries for Rabbinic Leadership

In the wake of an increasing incidence of public news stories about child sexual abuse, Nefesh Chicago has demonstrated leadership in creating programming to prevent any such occurrences in the future. On Motzei Shabbos, a trio of esteemed dayanim, Rabbi Dr. Dovid Fox of Los Angeles, Harav Shmuel Fuerst, Dayan of Agudath Israel and Rabbi Yona Reiss, Av Bais Din of the Chicago Rabbinical Council, spoke to the rabbanim of the greater Chicago community. In attendance were pulpit rabbis, kiruv rabbis, and day school administrators – men who represent a cross-section of Orthodox Jewish affiliations. Rabbi Dr. Fox reinforced the need to be especially careful in maintaining healthy and appropriate boundaries while interacting with congregants and pupils alike. The challenges that present themselves with today’s ubiquitous technologies were candidly discussed. Chicago’s leading dayanim, Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst and Rabbi Yona Reiss, stood steadfast in their staunch support of Rabbi Dr. Dovid Fox’s message. Each rav emphasized the halachic obligations of the leaders of the community, and the imperative of keeping children safe at all times. Read the full article featured in Hamodia Magazine here.

Nefesh Chicago Conference III

Some of Nefesh Chicago’s unique events include their Annual Conference which provides a variety of speakers including professionals and Rabbanim. Another service that the conventions provide is that they allow mental health professionals to earn continuing education hours through a partnership with Adler University.

Nefesh Chicago had the Third Annual Nefesh Chicago Conference. This conference was a full day of networking, learning, and inspiration. The speakers at the event included Harav Hadayan Shmuel Feurst, Rabbi Raccah, Rabbi Solomon, representatives from DCFS, Rachie Karesh, and Ed Lowe. The event discussed issues such as infidelity and child sexual abuse. The powerful speakers addressed the issues head on from the perspective of halacha, Jewish law, from a legal perspective, and from the perspective of mental health professionals. Rabbaim, Moros, educators, mental health professionals, and community members were inspired and educated by the powerful speakers.

Rebbetzin’s Lectures

Nefesh Chicago organizes an annual Rebbetzins’ Event for the Rebbetzins in the community. This event discusses prominent issues in the community which are then passed on to the Rabbanim and the other leaders of the Chicago community.

“ participate in this yearly program and leave with newfound strength. The concept behind these conferences is that many congregants, especially women, feel most comfortable approaching their Rebbetzin with their problems. The Rebbetzin must be aware of the help she can and cannot give. The role of the Rebbetzin today is far greater than just lending a listening ear, and therefore the role of these conferences is immeasurable.” – Naomi Klass, as Published in The Jewish Press.

Dealing With Ourselves As We Deal With Others

Janice Goldfein, ACSW, LCSW

Mrs. Debbie Fox, LCSW, founder of Magen Yeladim and author of Seminary Savvy, addressed the rebbetzins of the Chicago Orthodox community on the topic of keeping children safe – both in the public sphere as well as in the privacy of each rebbetzin’s home. This took place at Nefesh Chicago’s 14th annual tribute to our city’s devoted and hard-working rebbetzins. Mrs. Fox emphasized the importance of protecting one’s own children from house guests where poor boundaries are observed. She suggested that all parents make a practice of checking in on their children regularly when guests are in the home. Read the full article featured in Hamodia Magazine here.

Keeping Children Safe Rebbetzin’s Lecture

Mrs. Debbie Fox, LCSW

Mrs. Debbie Fox, LCSW, founder of Magen Yeladim and author of Seminary Savvy, addressed the rebbetzins of the Chicago Orthodox community on the topic of keeping children safe – both in the public sphere as well as in the privacy of each rebbetzin’s home. This took place at Nefesh Chicago’s 14th annual tribute to our city’s devoted and hard-working rebbetzins. Mrs. Fox emphasized the importance of protecting one’s own children from house guests where poor boundaries are observed. She suggested that all parents make a practice of checking in on their children regularly when guests are in the home. Read the full article featured in Hamodia Magazine here.

Prenuptial Agreements Rebbetzin’s Lecture

Mrs. Debbie Fox, LCSW

Another issue which targets the mental health in our community is the lack of marriage prenuptial agreements. The past Rebbetzins’ event focussed on addressing this problem. Rabbaim and speakers elaborated on the need for prenuptial agreements and the problems which can be avoided later on in marriage. The prenuptial agreements are endorsed by Harav Hadayan Shmuel Feurst. The key idea for people to keep in mind when considering the agreement is that if the two people care for each other deeply and are interested in marrying then they should want the best for each other. Read the full article here.

Without a doubt, this year’s Nefesh Chicago luncheon program will generate other Chicagoland groups, to educate their constituency in (fill in the blank).

Other past Nefesh Chicago events included:

  • Neuropsychological Overview of Trauma, PTSD, EMDR. Lecture given by Judith Guedalia, PHD, Director Neuropsychology Unit, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Israel
  • A Rebbetzins Luncheon featuring the topic, “Anxiety In Our Everyday Lives.”
  • A Seminar for Attorneys discussing legal issues and a Rabbinic Perspective on the Halachic and legal problems attorneys face in the modern world.
  • A Lecture on Confidentiality, Transference, and Countertransference given by Tzvi Hirsch Weinreb.

Professional Training for Mental Health Professions:

The Invisible Child: Understanding How Divorce Impacts Children by Menachem Hojda, LMSW, Supervisor of Clinical Services Acclaimed Presenter at Nefesh International Conference 2022