Our Board

susan-silverman

Rabbi Susan Silverman

Susan Silverman is a rabbi, writer and activist. She and her spouse have five children through both birth and adoption.

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    I am a rabbi and live with my husband, Yosef, and our five children in Jerusalem. Two of our kids are adopted. Perhaps because my parents welcomed two foster children into our home I always knew I wanted to adopt. It was so obvious in my mind that I never discussed it with Yosef — it was simply the plan. My great fortune was that he happily went along with it.

    The summer before our wedding, in 1992, I brought Yosef to a meeting of prospective adoptive parents sponsored by Washington, DC, social services. The paperwork we got that night stayed in my backpack for years, through the births of our two older daughters. I kept the papers way past their expiration dates, way past the years we lived in D.C.. They were like an identity card. Not of my name and address, but of something more real, more essentially me.

    One Chanuka when the girls were five and three, we sang songs in the light of the candles, and it felt like there was so much joy and love that our family of four couldn’t contain it all. (Note: it was a MOMENT, much unlike the day-to-day Get In The Car NOW, Where Are Your Shoes, and Is That Glue You’re Pouring on Her Head?) Within a year I brought nine-month-old Adar home from Ethiopia. And, as impulsively as we’d done everything else, we had Ashira and four-year-old Zamir joined us from Ethiopia. Our family was, finally, complete.

    Because of adoption, all five of our children understand that they are part of a big, complicated world. That they are complicit in it and meant to take responsibility for it. In the words of our rabbis, Lo alecha ha’mlacha ligmor, v’lo ata ben chorin l’hibatel mimena It’s not upon you to complete the task of repairing the world, but neither are you free to desist from it. Despite the obvious Jewy-ness of, well, me, this is for everyone. Being Jewish offers the metaphors and ideas with which I shape my life. But I have no need to loop you into my meshugas. If you are Jewish, and especially a rabbi, great — I have some extra resources to offer you. But the bottom line is not God or religion, it’s the well-being of the most vulnerable people on the planet — children without parents to raise and love and nurture them. Join my family, and millions of others, on this beautiful journey. For this rabbi, raising my children taught me more about God than any holy text, holiday, or ritual ever could.

Rabbi Yoshi Zweibeck

Rabbi Josh (“Yoshi”) Zweiback, Treasurer

Rabbi Josh (“Yoshi”) Zweiback graduated from Princeton University in 1991 and was ordained as a Rabbi by the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 1998. He is Senior Rabbi at the Stephen Wise Temple in LA.

Yoshi is a lecturer at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, and a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem . He is also the volunteer Executive Director and Founder of Kavod, a non-profit tzedakah collective which is dedicated to protecting human dignity. He joined the board of Second Nurture in January, 2016.

Fran Wasserman Attorney

Fran Wasserman, Esq., Board Secretary

Fran is a U.S. Patent Attorney with over two decades in law firm and corporate in house experience. Fran has worked as a volunteer and fundraiser for a number of Animal Rights and animal adoption organizations, including most recently PAWs (Norwalk, CT). She also volunteers and fundraises local live theater arts including the Actors Fund and community theater. She joined the Second Nurture Board in May, 2016.

Bruce

Rabbi Bruce Elder

Rabbi Bruce Elder was born in Youngstown, Ohio. He graduated from Indiana University, Phi Beta Kappa, with a bachelor’s degree in History and Psychology with certification in Jewish Studies. Upon graduation, Rabbi Elder moved to Chicago where he worked for the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA), a Jewish social justice organization dedicated to empowering Chicago’s diverse communities. His work at the JCUA led him to become a rabbi. He entered Hebrew Union College, the Reform movement’s theological seminary, and was ordained in 1996. He served as an assistant rabbi for a congregation in Cherry Hill, New Jersey before moving back to Chicago in 1999. Rabbi Elder served as associate rabbi of Congregation Hakafa in Glencoe, IL and again on the staff of the JCUA until assuming the position of Rabbi at Hakafa in 2002. He currently serves as the chair of the Glencoe Clergy Association and is President of the Board of the JCUA. Rabbi Elder lives in Highland Park, IL with his wife, Rona, and their three sons, Joshua, Noah, and Eli.

nehama-benmosche

Rabbi Nehama Benmosche

Rabbi Nehama Benmosche has served the Jewish community across many movements for more than 20 years. She is currently rabbi at Machar, a secular humanist community in Washington, D.C. She previously served as a congregational rabbi at Am Haskalah, in Bethlehem, Pa., and as a student rabbi at Kol HaNeshama, in Sarasota, Fla.; West End Synagogue, in New York City; and Beth Israel, in Woodbury, N.J. Prior to her graduation from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2010, Benmosche was a day-school and synagogue-school teacher in Atlanta. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Emory University and is completing a doctorate in Jewish education at the Jewish Theological Seminary. The focus of her Ph.D. is on educating staff and campers of a Jewish summer camp about differences in sex, gender and sexuality. Benmosche serves as an educator, consultant and board member of the Interfaith Community, an organization for Jewish/Christian families supporting two faith households. Her life of service to progressive Jewish life holds a close second place to her  family: Her 4 children adopted domestically and internationally: Elie, Eliyashu, Ezra and Sima and her partner, Terry, who makes sure she remembers to go out for adventure and to come home for love.

Danny

Danny Stewart

Danny Stewart has been working in non-profit social services since 1993 by first providing psychotherapy with those who were living with HIV and their care partners in a small counseling center, and co-facilitated a female sexual abuse recovery group with residential treatment facility adolescents in Dallas. In January 1994, he moved to New York City and started working at Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) until December 2000 and continued as a volunteer facilitating an AIDS support group until 2004. Starting December 2000, Danny’s focus shifted to follow his passion in working with youth. First, as the Assistant Director of Clinical Services at Hetrick-Martin Institute, a social service agency for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.

Danny has worked at Safe Horizon since November 2001, first as the Director of HIV Services at Streetwork, a program providing services with homeless and street-involved youth and young adults. Currently, he is the Director of Operations & Finance for Safe Horizon’s Streetwork Programs. In this capacity, he executes, advises, and oversees the operations grants administration that includes 30 federal, state, city and foundation grants totaling over 5 million dollars consisting of 50 employees at three sites in NYC. Danny received a Bachelor of Behavioral Science (1988) and an MA in Family Psychology (1992) from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and an MSW (1999) and a Seminar in Field Supervision Certification (2006) from Hunter College in New York. He returned in 2016 to his alma mater, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, as an Adjunct Instructor to teach Social Work Practice and Learning Lab, a two-semester graduate social work course on professional social work practice with an emphasis on applying essential concepts and skills from an anti-oppression social justice framework, and a mindfulness and critical self-awareness practice.

He resides in Manhattan with his husband, Pete. In August 2000, he found an abandoned newborn infant in the subway. This unlikely event changed their lives forever. That infant became their son almost four months later. Their son is now in thriving in college and loves playing ultimate.

James and sons

James Cohen

A long-time LGBTQ rights activist, James joined the nonprofit world following his early experience in corporate hospitality and food distribution services. When one of his foster kids asked James why he only did Tzedakah projects on days off, James began to wonder if he could transfer the skills honed in corporate life to make the world a better place.

As Chief Development and Communications Officer at Keshet, the national organization working for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life, James oversees Keshet’s institutional support and individual donor programs while also managing the organization’s communications department. He joined Keshet from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Miami’s unifying force for Jewish philanthropy and community building, where he served on the Financial Resource Development and Foundation teams. James holds the Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) designation.

Outside of work, James volunteers at the Jewish Community Day School of Boston and Temple Beth Zion (TBZ), and serves on the Board of Directors of the Boston Community Hevra Kadisha. James was honored as a 2017 Combined Jewish Philanthropies “Chai in the Hub” Award and is a Senior Fellow of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. He earned his B.S. in communications from the University of Miami.

James lives in Newton, Massachusetts, is Abba to two wonderful young men, and a young Finnish Spitz named Ginsburg.

Tiffany

Tiffany Haddish

Tiffany Haddish can currently be seen opposite Tracy Morgan on the TBS comedy series The Last O.G. and as host of the reboot of ABC’s Kids Say The Darndest Things. She will next star opposite Salma Hayek and Rose Byrne in Like A Boss and will release a new one-hour comedy special for Netflix later this year. Haddish is perhaps best known for her scene-stealing performance in the smash comedy Girls Trip opposite Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, and Regina Hall. Her journey and life experiences have inspired her comedy and sense of humor both on and off the stage. While growing up in foster care in South Central Los Angeles, her excessive talking and imaginary friends prompted her increasingly-flustered social worker to steer her into stand-up comedy by enrolling her in the Laugh Factory’s Comedy Camp, a place for at-risk and underprivileged children to transform negative energy into something positive. The experience was just the beginning of her illustrious comedy career.

Ellen Zemel helps her 10-year-old son Laib Zemel, from left, in a symbolic lighting of a menorah in honor of the eight days of Hanukkah Sunday Dec. 14, 2014 during a party for parents and children of the Project Esther: The Chicago Jewish Adoption Network of the Jewish Child & Family Services at the Elain Kersten Children's Center in Northbrook. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune) 2415851 - ct-multi-ethnic-jews-hanukkah-met 2

(Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune)

Imagine…

Saturday morning services have ended at Temple Sinai and the congregation is gathered in the recreation room for lunch and socializing. The table is covered with bagels and cream cheese, as well as Ethiopian injera and sauces. The children are running around, playing cards, hiding behind the curtains on the small stage at the back, sneaking soda, and negotiating play dates.

Among the children are a dozen or so from orphanages in Addis Ababa. They are of the eight families of Temple Sinai who have adopted in the Second Nurture framework. Their parents had shared the adoption journey from the beginning: from learning about the orphan crisis to home studies and paperwork; matching with and traveling to bring their children home to on-going support of each other and the children via classes and discussion groups.

In clusters of conversation they watch their children play. They share meaningful glances that say it all: thank God they are here, with us, our children. Fellow congregants who are part of the new cohort of adopting parents – still in the home study stage — join them in a cluster, excited and nervous. They grasp the hands of their birth kids and say, “Soon your brother or sister will come home from Ethiopia, too!”

Many of their friends in the synagogue, adoptive families and not, are now involved in supporting sustainable technologies in a village outside Addis Ababa that enables mothers to pump and filter water at home, raising their children more healthfully and safely.

Tonight, Temple Sinai is holding an Open House for Second Nurture. The members are excited to welcome families from the Sikh Temple, since only Indians can adopt from the very high orphan population in India, as well as families from the nearby Unitarian church and the city’s community center.

This scene is supported and promoted by Second Nurture in dozens of religious and secular communities around the country.

Bring your child home & finalize adoption.

There is acute experience, like Homecoming Day, which is often followed by a Honeymoon Period. There will also be a stretch of time, until the finalization of the adoption, where there will be official social worker visits for both monitoring and support.

“I picked up the manila envelope we had received from an adoption agency, and Yosef put down his newspaper. I hadn’t opened it yet, hadn’t yet been willing to enter some ass-kicking reality: once the forms were complete, our file would join hundreds of others on the desk of a bureaucratic matchmaker—a faraway woman at a desk, surrounded by stuffed manila folders or clear plastic sleeves in binders. Half the files would be filled with information on prospective parents like us. The other half with photographs, biographies, and medical records of children. For Papa, make him a scholar! For Mama, make him rich as a king!

Maybe Xue the Matchmaker sits in an old Soviet-style office building in Beijing sipping bubble tea, and Sunita the Matchmaker drinks lassi in a Gothic structure in Mumbai, and Mio the Matchmaker sits in Hong Kong sipping yuanyang, and Yihune the Matchmaker savors muddy coffee in Addis Ababa, and Regina the Matchmaker tosses back a shot of Russian vodka. And maybe Xue’s bubble tea spills on one of the two piles of forms, and in cleaning up the spill she puts the top document on the windowsill to dry, and staples the second document to the first document from the other pile, and instead of Mei Ling going to Esther Goldberg on the Upper West Side of Manhattan she goes to Erin and John o’Malley in Boston.

And maybe that was meant to be.”

Prepare for your child & get organized.

The length of time between being notified that you have been selected as the adoptive family for a child or sibling group and receiving the physical placement of them in your home is dependent on many factors. Just as you will need time to prepare both physically and emotionally for the placement, so too does the child with the help of their caseworker, foster family, and others. Activities such as goodbye visits with the child’s birth family and others will not only help you to be patient for placement to occur, but will also help you to respond to the child’s mixed feelings when placement does occur. Weighing other factors, such as timing placement to happen during summer vacation, holiday break, or at the end of a school semester will be help them transition more smoothly from their current placement to your family. Pre-placement visits with the child in your home, the child’s foster home, or a neutral location is important. When and where the visits happen, and how many will occur, are customized for each adoption and take into account the child’s age and developmental stage, child and family calendars, distance, and other factors. You will also have preparations to make such as school arrangements, medical insurance, and legal processes. Second Nurture and our partners – your partners – will guide you through it.

I rifled through the forms. Three stapled sections were held together by a paper clip. The pages were photocopies, black type on white paper, the text askew. I paused at the page of medical conditions, like the health history form you complete at a first doctor visit. But instead of checking off the ailments you had, you checked off the ones you were willing to have—in a child:

HIV, Clubfoot, Blindness, Deafness, Cleft Palate, Spina Bifida, Hypospadias, Hemangioma

Each mark, whether a “yes” or a “no,” felt significant. Would a certain pattern of yes and no marks somehow lead us to our child? How could I divine these markers on our path, like constellations in a desert sky? And who was I to have this kind of power? God lifted the veil of creation, just a little smidge at the corner, for half a second, and showed me a glimpse of its inner workings. “Now,” the still small voice said, “take a step toward your child.”

I reviewed the column of blue Xs I had drawn. I had responded honestly, as honestly as possible. This was a partnership between my Bic pen and the cosmos.

Our National Social Service Director, Mary Beth King, MSSA, tells us about the Home Study Process in North Carolina:

In NC, a total of 3 home study visits are typically required. For married couples or if there is more than one adult living in the home, this usually extends to 4 visits. The first visit is generally with both partners: discussions related to why you’ve chosen to adopt, what you anticipate your life will be like as parents (or with additional children in the home), addressing any major concerns related to the process, the child, the overall adoption and what it means for your family in particular.

The next two visits are with each partner individually; we’ll talk about your childhood, your own experiences with your parents and what sorts of traditions and parenting norms you want to continue or see change with your own family. We’ll talk about your best memories and some of your hardest memories. Your relationship with your siblings and extended family. We’ll go over your time in school, your career, what it’s been like to be a parent so far (if you already have children) or what you anticipate parenthood will be like (from an individual standpoint). Talk about your partner and how you expect your relationship will change once you have children (or more children!).

The last visit is a general wrap up – go over anything that needs additional clarification or may have been missed, address any questions that have arisen throughout the process.

At some point, we’ll do a house tour. I’ll open closets, but I won’t rifle through them! I don’t care if your house is clean or if your pets (or children!) are freshly bathed. You do not need to have a room prepared for the child to be adopted (rules are different for foster care); you only need a rough idea of where he/she will sleep. Without a doubt, everyone says this is the most nerve wracking part of the adoption process – but it really shouldn’t be!

Note: International Adoption demands additional steps related to the US Department of Homeland Security, legal and court procedures, and US State Department immigration. Throughout, we will help you bring meaningful cultural paradigms to the process.

Getting the word out.

  • Write an article about Second Nurture for your newsletter with a description of Second Nurture and a link to our website.
  • Ask your clergy person or other community leader to speak about adoption (we are happy to provide her/him with content)
  • Invite a member of our staff or one of our partners to join you in presenting Second Nurture.
  • Invite interested community leaders, potential adoptive families and others to an informational gathering. Download our Sample Letter here.
  • Read Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World in adult education, book, or other groups, Use the Readers’ Guide.

* We are here to help you develop the best content for your community.

Unparented Children Abroad.

No one knows how many orphaned children are in the world or the circumstances of their care. In 2005, UNICEF estimated that there were 13 million children who had lost both parents in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Due to the AIDS pandemic and other factors, that number has surely grown. Many of these children are being raised by extended family. Many are in orphanages, on the streets, or in child-headed groups. Many are trafficked into sexual and other criminal and military activities. Children living outside of family care are far less likely to have access to adequate shelter, nutrition, healthcare and education. They are far more likely to be subjected to disease, child trafficking, hazardous labor, physical abuse and sexual exploitation. They are also more likely to die from preventable and treatable diseases stemming from malnutrition, AIDS, inadequate sanitation, poor water, malaria and diarrhea. Remember the 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria? There’s one reason the world has paid attention to them: They have mothers. Recent medical research and cross-cultural studies confirm that institutionalized children are susceptible to a wide array of psychological and developmental and emotional challenges. www.bothendsburning.org

Children in the US Foster Care system

According to the most recent federal data, there are currently more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. They range in age from infants to 21 years old. The average age of a child in foster care is more than 8 years old. Children and youth enter foster care because they have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parents or guardians. All of these children have experienced loss and some form of trauma. In other ways, foster children are no different from children who aren’t in foster care: they are learning and growing, like to play and hang out with friends their age, and need the love and stability a permanent home provides. The median amount of time that a child spends in foster care is just over a year. More than half of the children in foster care will be reunified with their parents or primary caregivers, and nearly one-quarter will be adopted, many by their foster parents. Each year, approximately 20,000 youth will age out of the foster care system when they turn 18 or 21, or when they finish high school (depending upon the state in which they live.) These children are at increased risk of poor educational outcomes, experiencing homelessness, and being unemployed. (From AdoptUSKids.org)