The Shalom Task Force located in Brooklyn, New York, was created as the first domestic violence and family enrichment organization in the Orthodox Jewish community. The institute helps teenagers in over 50 schools by promoting healthy dating relationships in addition to providing premarital education. It also oversees a national domestic violence hotline. The man behind this work is Executive Director Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch (MAMFT, 2012).
Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch (MAMFT, 2012, Runs first domestic violence organization in the Orthodox Jewish Community)
In 2008, Schonbuch (a father of six) was working as the full-time foundation director when he decided to add Marriage and Family Therapist to his resume. His neighbor recommended Northcentral University’s program.
“I really loved Northcentral’s MFT,” relates Schonbuch. “For me, it was all about the flexibility – I was able to study during the day, at my office, late nights, or on the weekends – so I was able to fit this tremendously engaging coursework into my already hectic life.”
Schonbuch completed his initial practicum, the first required 250 hours of clinical experience and training, at a very unique inner-city clinic in Brooklyn, the Interborough Developmental and Consultation Center. Schonbuch was immersed in a diverse culture consisting of people from the Caribbean and Orthodox Jews.
“It was a busy clinic and I learned so much about my community, having been exposed to so many complex family issues, poverty and violence. I was able to treat people coming out of social service agencies and hospitals and the experience proved invaluable.”
“Here I am, an Orthodox Jew with a big beard, and suddenly, I’m counseling people from a world away, Jamaicans and Haitians, but it was a wonderful human experience”
—Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch
He was also exposed to Emotionally Focused Therapy or EFT, championed by therapist Sue Johnson. As a result, Schonbuch has become the go-to person for marriage counseling in his neighborhood. Schonbuch also credits Ivan Böszörményi-Nagy and his books on Contextual Family Therapy for helping to shape his current practice.
Schonbuch completed his second internship at the same clinic before receiving his Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy at NCU last year. Not one to rest on his laurels, Schonbuch is currently applying for licensure, and he hopes to one day open his own clinic for couples and families.
In the meantime, the Shalom Task Force continues to make a difference on a daily basis, while Schonbuch delivers presentations, writes First Aid for Jewish Marriages, on Booksurge, and a bi-weekly column on Marriage and Teens at Risk and Family Matters in The Jewish Press.