On Monday, October 26, 2015, Shalom Task Force conducted a workshop in conjunction with OU-JLIC at Queens College. A standing-room only crowd of 60 young women attended the workshop on "Making the Connection: Dispelling Relationship Myths in Dating, Intimacy, and Abuse.” The workshop was presented by Avital Levin, LMSW, Director of Women's Education at STF, as well as Rachel Hercman, LCSW, a clinician at the Medical Center for Female Sexuality. The content presented at the program provided a necessary forum for dating-age students to raise the questions and issues of intimacy in a relaxed, Halachically appropriate setting.
The feedback, which was garnered via written evaluation surveys as well as verbal follow-up, demonstrated the impact and necessity for the workshop. The following is a smattering of comments that highlights how appropriate it was for Shalom Task Force to sponsor this forum on campus: “I really gained a better understanding about signs to look for and what to think about in a relationship… to not be ashamed to speak up about things.” Another student commented, “I gained an understanding that Judaism does accept these discussions. It dissipated many misconceptions that I had.” A third student stated, “I’ve never heard a speech where intimacy was spoken about normally by a Jewish educator. It was nice to see a couple of frum women openly speak about relationships. Very refreshing.” And finally, “To feel comfortable discussing relationships, what’s normal and what’s not.”
This program is part of a new initiative that Shalom Task Force is bringing to college campuses. Avital Levin, LMSW, Director of Women’s Education at STF was formerly the Co-Director of OU-JLIC at Johns Hopkins University. In the development stages of the STF college programming, Levin met with Rav Menachem Schrader, Founding Director of OU-JLIC, as well as several other OU-JLIC Directors and Educators. There is excitement and ongoing collaboration to identify the most cutting-edge, pertinent, and vital topics of relationships for Shalom Task Force to provide to the Orthodox student on a college campus today.