Prof. Reuven Feuerstein, world renowned educational and developmental psychologist, visionary and founder of the Feuerstein Institute, passed away on April 29th, in Jerusalem, Israel. He was 92 years old.
Born in Romania, Feuerstein showed an interest in education at an early age. He attended college in Bucharest before being forced to flee for his life. After settling in Mandate Palestine in 1945, he worked in youth villages, educating child survivors of the Holocaust until 1948. This was the beginning of a long career that would address the psychological and educational needs of immigrant, refugee and otherwise disadvantaged populations.
Feuerstein returned to Europe to complete degrees in General and Clinical Psychology at the University of Geneva, where he studied under Jean Piaget and Andre Rey. In 1970, he earned his PhD in Developmental Psychology at the Sorbonne University, France.
While in Europe, Feuerstein served as the Director of Psychological Services of Youth Aliyah in Europe. In this capacity, he was responsible for assigning candidates for emigration to educational programs. At that time he discovered that when standard IQ tests were administered to Moroccan Jewish children they performed poorly, but if guided by a mediator, their performance improved dramatically. This experience made Professor Feuerstein question current beliefs regarding the stability of intelligence, and posit that cultural differences in learning styles were the real issue. He developed new methods of evaluation and teaching tools that search for the learning potential of the person and expand and maximize on those abilities.
This period was seminal to the development of Feuerstein's hypothesis concerning low functioning children and their potential for change.He discovered that the key to meaningful instruction is the mediated relationship. Since the 1970's Feuerstein has been working in Israel, applying the tools he developed for evaluating and teaching cognition to Down syndrome children and eventually to victims of stroke, dementia, cerebral palsy, autism and other conditions. The Feuerstein Institute, which he founded and directed, treats people from around the world and trains therapists and educators internationally in the famed Feuerstein Method.
For his groundbreaking work, Feuerstein has received numerous awards. These include, among others, the Israel Prize in Education; and the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques, France. He also was a 2012 Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
Above all, Feuerstein epitomized the teaching of "love your fellow as you love yourself"-regardless of religion, race or nationality. His care for each individual who came for help and guidance was unparalleled. A genius clinician, he gave hope and direction to many thousands of parents of children with special needs and learning difficulties about how to advance and integrate them and bring them to lead meaningful, giving lives. He has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and will be sorely missed by all who knew him and knew of him.
A foundation has been formed in Professor Feuerstein's memory, to fulfill his legacy of helping those who need it most. Please click here to learn more about the Feuerstein Heritage Foundation and the important projects we endeavor to undertake.
The Feuerstein Institute celebrated the inauguration of the new Feuerstein-Bassou International Training Academy. The academy will serve as the clearing house for all international activities, including training, CPD and worldwide dissemination of the Feuerstein Method.
"We could not have moved forward to this place without the support and encouragement of Claude Bassou," said Chaim Guggenheim, VP of International and Business Development. Addressing Monsieur Bassou, he continued, "Because of you, the Feuerstein Methodology will find the place it so rightfully deserves in the world.
The academy has already expanded its reach. We have launched the CPD website in additional languages, and added international workshops in Latin America and the Far East. We look forward to further growth in the coming years.
The Hazon Partnership and Marriage Preparation program prepares young adults with special needs for establishing and maintaining intimate relationships, and teaches them the skills required to run and maintain a home.
The pilot group, which consisted of 24 young men and women, saw one couple marry and four serious couples emerge. These five couples have graduated to stage two, during which the couples are provided with more intensive, private counseling sessions.
This program, a first of its kind, has attracted the attention of several Israeli ministries. Throughout the operation of the pilot, our team has worked to refine the program in accordance to the needs of the Ministry of Social Welfare, to suit 25 participants in a community housing framework. We have also engaged in ongoing discussions for adaption for the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Most recently, the Hazon program has been submitted to the Ron Committee of the Ministry of Health, who have thrown their support behind it. They have decided to sponsor the second cycle of the program, which is currently in the recruiting phase
History was made when the young men and women from the Feuerstein School of Continuing Education gathered with their parents, educators and friends at the Knesset to receive their national student ID cards. For almost two years, the students have participated in Course Ella, a 40 hour per week intensive program which prepares young adults with special needs to work as elder-care and kindergarten aides. In the first year, the students spent most of their time in the classroom, sharpening their empathy and listening skills and taking seminars on topics in psychology and anatomy. In year two, the focus was shifted so that the students spend more time in the field at their work-study locations, learning practical skills related to their future professions. "The students work as hard as university students," said one of their instructors. "And they spend as many hours, if not more, working toward their goal. They deserve the same recognition for their hard work as any other student." And now they have. In awarding student cards to the School of Continuing Education students, not only will our students enjoy the same benefits as all other Israeli students in possession of a student card, but we are also seeing a real shift in the perception and inclusion of people with special needs in Israeli society.
The Feuerstein Institute celebrated the dedication of the Feuerstein Institute building, heretofore known as Beit Schonfeld.
The name Beit Schonfeld was bestowed by Dr. Joseph Schonfeld, in memory of his beloved wife, Miriam Magda Schonfeld.
The Chanukat HaBayit ceremony was presided over by by Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem, and Professor Reuven Feuerstein, President of the Feuerstein Institute. Both they, Rabbi Haim Drukman, Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein and Dr. Schonfeld spoke to mark this momentous occasion.
Orit is 24 years old. She is a first year student studying Occupational Therapy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Orit's family immigrated to Israel on foot from the Sudan as part of Operation Moses in 1984. It was a difficult journey, and many of her father's family members perished. Her mother's family, fearful of the journey, chose to stay in the Sudan, including her half-brother from her mother's previous marriage. The immigration was a dark time for the family, and throughout Orit's childhood, it was rarely mentioned, treated like a secret.
Orit's parents restarted their lives in Bat Yam, after a short stay in Netanya at an absorption center. Her parents worked very hard to provide for their seven children; her father as a typesetter and her mother as an eldercare aide and housecleaner. Assimilating into Israeli society was a priority, and Orit and her siblings grew up speaking Hebrew and not Amharic.
To her parent's delight, Orit and her siblings have flourished in Israel. Her eldest sister (the only sibling born in the Sudan) is married and studies child care; her eldest brother is an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF); her second eldest sister is an X-ray technician at Tel HaShomer Hospital.
Orit and younger sister both participated in the Feuerstein AMIR program, which helped them to move from serving as kitchen staff to officers in the IDF. Her younger brothers are just entering the IDF and are in middle school, respectively.
Having experienced how the Feuerstein programs can help her succeed, Orit was thrilled to apply to the Academic Integration program following the completion of her army service. She chose to pursue Occupational Therapy after her younger brother was diagnosed with PDD.