Did it my way.

October 26, 2009

I should have kept up with how – or rather, when – I finished my Conflict Management & Negotiation degree at Bar Ilan last year. Must have slipped my mind with everything else that has been going on for me – not to mention with how long it took towards the end, totally from a bureaucratic point of view.

But I did it. I have the Masters, minus the official gishur course. I’d like to get around to getting certified in the next year or so anyway, even if I don’t go into the field here in Israel.

You can read more about my work to finish the MA at Bar Ilan here.

Would I do it all again?

Yes, but differently.


The future of mediation… and me.

October 26, 2009

Out of the blue I received an email yesterday seeking my knowledge of mediation as a career and process in Israel: How do you study? How long does it take? What requirements are there?

The answer I gave is a bit depressing, but I guess, for now, it’s how I see it:


I studied for a Masters at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan. They have a program there called Conflict Management and Negotiation, and a part of it is to take the official Gishur (mediation) course, which, when passed, certifies you to become a mediator. Along with that, if I’m remembering correctly, you need at least five years working for someone (lawyer, etc) related to mediation, a BA in psychology, sociology, law, or something related, and there may be other reqs I’m not recalling.

I didn’t end up doing the Gishur course (life got in the way). They offered by all different organizations, so you could actually be a lawyer and take it, etc. It’s a matter of being officially recognized. But it takes more work than just the course, as I outlined.

Mediation as a private practice is not very popular here – yet. The court system uses mediation in family and small claims cases many times, and that is the main way to break into it. It’s not easy to break into though as there are limited positions. As one of my professors said, if you want to get into gishur here in Israel, don’t make it your main job.

It’s unfortunate, of course. This is a country where many folks are very interested in alternative resolution to many other problems – health, stress, physical wellbeing especially. But culturally, it’s a place where people often have trouble listening to authority. Let alone volunteering to be counseled by it.

Sorry if that sounds depressing! At the same time that I was studying for the MA I was working in hi tech and ended up finding that I could actually make a living in hi tech, and didn’t have time for both. So the mediation is on hold for me now.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

I might be wrong; it might be more optimistic if you ask someone else. I hope it is. This is where I am right now, and I don’t know what will be for me or the future of mediation in Israel in general. There is a lot to be gained here by accepting the process.

Religious figures as marriage counselors.

August 6, 2008

The marriage of religious authorities and… marriage. Does it work? Does it help? Does it hurt?

Assuming you are a religious person, and adhere/subscribe to one way of life, then yes, why shouldn’t religious authorities help guide you in something as large and important and delicate as marriage? Assuming, again, that they have the proper training.

Whispered along the walls of the Jewish community, I’ve heard the horror stories of abused women and children who can’t get out of their homes because they have no support. In Judaism, there is a concept called “shalom bayit” – a peaceful house. It’s a clause used often to try and realize the greater good of your home: work towards shalom bayit, it’s the most important thing.

That is true, of course, until it is no longer true. Recently I’ve had to listen to the horror story of an old friend who is finding herself taking all kinds of crap from rabbinical authorities who are asking her to just keep quiet for shalom bayit. She is in a situation where the marriage is way past shalom bayit, and it is time for everyone, including the rabbis, to face reality.

In what seems to be a new turn, a course is now being offered by the Emunah Religious Women’s Organization to train Orthodox rabbis on giving professional advice and guidance on sexual health and marital relations. This is under the notion that “rabbis are catalysts for family change.”

And how true. Young couples, who never received a sex education beyond learning the difference between a woman’s purity and impurity, can finally get some healthy, sound advice from a figure they trust. Believe it or not, but there are plenty of people who will go to their rabbis before their doctors.

Here is a full article about the initiative, which I definitely agree with, as long as the rabbis use it for good – especially in the cases of the abused.

Rabbis offer professional sexual, marital advice
New course offered by Emunah Religious Women’s Organization trains rabbis to provide professional counseling in marriage, sexuality. ‘Rabbis are catalysts for family change,’ says Emunah deputy head Rina Wasserman

Bedroom affairs and marital problems are now open for discussion in the Orthodox sector. A newly launched course trains rabbis to engage in family and marital counseling and give advice on sex-related matters in order to help the religious sector deal with these rather sensitive issues.

“The course focuses on psychological aspects, family relationships and sexuality,” said Rina Wasserman, Vice Chairperson of Emunah (Religious Women’s Organization) Israel, which has initiated the course. (source)

Bridging with sports… as usual.

August 6, 2008

Just because I enjoy watching the efforts to bridge peoples with sports – especially children – here is yet another attempt, this time by the Peres Center for Peace and the NBA:

NBA’s only Jewish player in Israel for visit
As guest of Peres Center for Peace, Lakers guard Jordan Farmar runs basketball clinic for Jewish, Arab kids in south Israel

Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar, the NBA’s only Jewish player, is in Israel to instruct Jewish and Arab kids.

Farmar was running a basketball clinic in southern Israel Tuesday.

Farmar, 21, is the guest of the Peres Center for Peace, founded by Nobel Peace laureate Shimon Peres to encourage cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. One of the ways the center tries to improve relationships is through children playing sports together. (source)

The Valley of Peace initiative, in case you haven’t heard.

July 23, 2008

A friend of mine sent me this video detailing the architectural plans for the Valley of Peace initiative in the desert area between Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. It’s a plan that has captured the imagination and support of Israeli President Shimon Peres and is being pursued by Jordanians, Israelis and Palestinians. It is meant to build communities, businesses, amusement parks, shopping centers, and most of all – a greener and more productive desert, shared by different people with similar interests.

Seems quite grandiose and ambitious; especially from the looks of the video and the optimism in the narrator’s voice.

But you know what? Why the hell not dream. It looks good, it feels good. I could spend afford to spend some energy on making that happen.

An update from the conflict management student.

July 21, 2008

Oh, where have I been? I know it’s been a while…

Things with school have been relaxed the last few weeks since I finished up my last two papers before my final major work: the report on my internship, which I am currently engaged in.

Let me take a step back. My last two papers both covered interesting topics. One was an overdue paper for a mandatory class I took in the first year which was something about conflict in Jewish history. It covered the Dreyfus Affair and the many perspectives through which to view the Antisemitism involved.

The second paper was a bit more interesting and personal to write – that was a study of adult children enduring their parents’ late-life divorce. It was based on a survey I did and some research; one of the conclusions of the paper is that there is simply not enough academic research out there (though I did read a few good articles).

The internship I’m doing is in online dispute resolution. It’s taking place on a wiki Q&A site that is based on a social community of members who ask and answer questions and work towards this global goal of creating a major source for quality Q&A. It’s very much in a growing stage right now and conflict resolution was a definite must for this community.

It’s been engaging so far and I should have lots to write about. Looking forward to sharing my insights.

Beauty in the eye of the be-hind.

July 21, 2008

On the lighter side of the law… I thought this article was pretty funny in its irony:

Can’t show underwear law

“Be careful if you have saggy pants in the south Chicago suburb of Lynwood.

Village leaders have passed an ordinance that would levy $US25 ($25.70) fines against anyone showing three inches (7.62 centimetres) or more of their underwear in public.

Young adults in the village, like 21-year-old Joe Klomes, say the new law infringes on their personal style. He says leaders should instead spend money on making the area look nicer.” (source)

Hehe. I guess the village leaders believe they are making area look nicer – by covering up the likes of Mr. Klomes’ butt.