Hundreds of parents attended a series of parenting workshops with Rabbi Yakov Horowitz last week in Israel, in the Anglo communities of Modiin, Ramat Beit Shemesh and Efrat.
The events, which included a crowd of 300 people in Ramat Beit Shemesh, included an informative talk from Rabbi Horowitz followed by frank question-and-answer sessions. Topics included how to develop a relationship with your kids so they feel comfortable to talk about even the most uncomfortable topics, as well as understanding the real-life challenges today’s kids are facing – crucial topics for parents anywhere, including the Anglo community in Israel, with its unique set of challenges.
The message of the workshops was that, as Rabbi Horowitz put it, “Open communication leads to better relationships with our children – a value in itself, and of particular importance in an age where there is so much information available but not enough guidance on how to deal with it. A positive, supportive parent-child relationship makes children more resilient and less prone to being targets of abuse and the myriad negative influences out there.”
As the founding director of The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES – an international parenting organization that runs numerous programs promoting family stability in the Jewish community – Rabbi Horowitz would know. He is a widely known authority on raising children in today’s turbulent world, an expert on teens at risk and an outspoken advocate on behalf of abuse survivors. He conducts child safety and abuse prevention and parenting workshops, and notable among publications he has initiated is the renowned children’s personal safety picture book Let’s Stay Safe! which has sold over 60,000 copies. It has also been translated into Yiddish as well as two different Hebrew editions which were revised and adapted for Israeli readers. The Israeli editions have sold very well since being launched in the Israeli market last year. His most recent publication is the Bright Beginnings series of skills-based educational books which lay out the fundamentals necessary for children to learn Chumash and Gemara, setting them up for future success.
What made these workshops in Israel stand out was not only that the number of attendees far surpassed what the organizers had in mind, or that Rabbi Horowitz’s books completely sold out, but that attendees were largely not parents of youth at risk. They were simply parents interested in growing as parents and developing better skills – before issues crop up.
“It used to be that parenting workshops run by Project YES were attended solely by those who had teens in crisis. Now,” notes Rabbi Horowitz, “there is much more awareness. Parents want to be empowered to prevent problems before they arise, to help their children and themselves develop better coping skills. This makes me look forward to a better future for us, for our children and grandchildren.”