Who We Are
The Shefer Institute, headed by Mrs. Yael Elitzur, was established in in response to the growing disarray and urgent needs of the modern family as characterized by: loss of parental authority, parental helplessness when challenged by children’s behavior, and parental stress due to overwhelming feelings of guilt.
The Shefer approach offers an opportunity for parents to engage in fascinating and deep introspection regarding the parent-child relationship, thereby attaining an understanding of the dynamics between parent and child. This understanding ultimately leads to improvement in the behavior of the child as well as the general atmosphere in the home.
The Shefer approach provides parents with practical tools for solving dilemmas in child-rearing, enabling them to develop a new outlook regarding their childrens’ hidden strengths and talents and to rediscover the joy in raising their children!
Shefer counselors have been extremely successful in teaching and bringing the “Shefer Approach” to all segments of the Israeli population ranging from the ultra-orthodox Meah Shearim community through non-religious kibbutzim, in English, French, andYiddish, as well as Hebrew. Successful workshops are been held abroad as well, in person by counselors or by internet (webinar).
What is the Shefer approach?
The Shefer approach is a renewed classic philosophy based upon Alfred Adler’s psychological principles. The approach strives to solve issues that modern parents often struggle with, among them: loss of parental authority, confusion regarding numerous educational choices, feelings of parental guilt, and children’s lack of identification with the family’s core values.Parents who use the Shefer approach learn to identify faulty dynamics that have been unconsciously created between them and each of their children. Once identified, they then learn how to alter those dynamics in order to create a spirit of cooperation. All of this is done with the underlying principle that parents are not to blame, and the children are not being defiant; rather the unwanted dynamics came about because of unconscious mistakes that then become ingrained in the parent-child relationship
Parents who participate in Shefer Parenting Workshops discover that raising children can be an enjoyable and fulfilling challenge. Once faulty parental behavior patterns are modified, family dynamics evolve as well. This paves the way for the family to restore its natural hierarchy, in which the parents are the ones who lead the way for their children, according to their own worldview. This approach works for people of all backgrounds, because there is no definitive “right” or “wrong” way to raise children, there is no judgment, and no list of “do and don’t”. The underlying principle of the Shefer approach is that it is a parent’s right, and even obligation, to raise his/her children in the way s/he deems appropriate, in congruence with his/her worldview. Then, children naturally cooperate and join in the path their parents teach them.
Parents who participate in Shefer Parenting Workshops, are calm, self confident parents who suddenlydiscover free time for the myriad of challenges that life presents them, and are able to fulfill other goals as they choose. At the same time, their children’s talents and skills are developed and supported, and they are able to realize the raw potential they possess in a variety of areas, all while being trained to eventually become adults who will see themselves as part of society, yet are independent and will give back to those around them.
Yael Elitzur (69) is an educational consultant and resident of Ofra of which she and her late husband, the journalist Uri Elitzur were founders. After receiving her degree from Michlala in Jerusalem and continued studies in the Adler Institute, Yael Elitzur studied with Bilha Shefer who had adopted the educational philosophy of Alfred Dreykurs, student of Alfred Adler. This philosophy developed into a revolutionary educational approach as Yael Elitzur developed a system that made the approach practical and accessible, eventually affecting thousands. This approach enables a new outlook and offers refreshing insight of the dynamics between parent and child, teacher and student, as well as between couples. In the beginning Yael travelled throughout the country, to propagate the approach through workshops and private counseling. Her perseverance and determination led to amazing results! As she began to see remarkable changes in the family, educational, cultural and social awareness she realized that the revolution cannot be accomplished single handedly. She would need to train others to assist and continue her work.
With this vision she began in 1999 to train a new generation of Shefer counselors, stressing the importance of accuracy and professionalism while imbedding them with the awareness that they have a ‘calling’ that can truly make a mark on society.
To date, over 150 dedicated Shefer counselors trained by Yael Elitzur are actively spreading the approach in all segments of Israeli society. The workshops have successfully brought the “Shefer Approach” to thousands throughout Israel. Remarkably, the approach has taken hold in all segments of the population ranging from the ultra-orthodox community through non-religious kibbutzim, in English, French, Spanish and Yiddish as well as Hebrew. Successful workshops have also been held abroad in Australia and the U.S. The most recent statistic shows that in 2014 alone over 4000 families participated in Sheffer workshops leading to impressive results.
In addition, counseling in the Shefer approach has helped many couples overcome domestic issues that have troubled them and “self- awareness” counseling based on the Shefer approach has enabled many singles to make the decision to establish new Jewish homes.
The teachings of Yael Elitzur are also being taught in many schools by specially trained Sheffer counselors. Teachers, advisors, and social workers are exposed to and begin to ‘reap the fruits’ of the revolutionary concepts of the Shefer approach.
In 2008, the “Shefer Institute” was founded in Jerusalem. The institute as well as the approach is named in honor of Bilha Shefer who Yael Elitzur credits for teaching her the basics that set the ground for her work over the years. Yael Elitzur heads the institute and continues to train a new generation of dedicated Shefer counselors. .
Bilha Sheffer – A Personal Profile
Bilha Sheffer was born in Berlin, Germany in 1932. She survived the Holocaust, and made aliyah in 1944, after being liberated from Bergen-Belsen. Bilha Sheffer spent her post-aliyah youth in Tel Aviv, and is a graduate of the Talpiot Teachers’ Seminary in Tel Aviv. She was married to Rabbi Yochanan Sheffer, of blessed memory, a humble, yet visionary Torah scholar. Together they adopted 3 children: Chanoch, of blessed memory, who was killed in the course of his IDF service, and Yossi and Uri, may they live long lives. Bilha wrote a book about the adoption and her educational approach, called “To Be Myself” (in Hebrew). After they married, the Sheffers moved to Kibbutz Ein Tzurim in the south, and eventually moved to Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion.
Rudolph Dreikurs, a student of Alfred Adler, came to Israel in the course of a series of workshops to spread the Adlerian philosophy in 1970. This chance encounter changed Bilha’s life. While attending his lectures, Bilha discerned the possibility of teaching parents a value system that is positive, personal, true, and in congruence with the values of Torah and our Sages.
During his frequent trips to Israel, Professor Dreikurs visitied with the Sheffers in their home in Ein Tzurim. During these visits, the professor explained that he felt that his approach was understood better in Israel than elsewhere. Even though he wasn’t a Torah observant Jew, he was drawn to Judaism and Jewish homes, and even spent time expounding his theories with Rav Tzvi Yehudah HaCohen Kook, of blessed memory.
Bilha Sheffer began leading parenting workshops throughout the country, and helped thousands of people with single-session counseling; Bilha’s philosophy is that oftentimes a person can come to understand in a single session that s/he has chosen a particular point of view that influences all aspects of his/her life, and by changing to a more encompassing viewpoint, his/her life can be greatly improved.
Bilha characterizes Adlerian therapy as very different from Freudian therapy, which requires multiple sessions in search of the origins of one’s behaviors and thoughts. She never named her methodology, but rather emphasized to all of her students that she learned her approach from Professor Dreikurs, who learned it from Alfred Adler.
Bilha’s vision was to help as many people as possible, and to assist them in improving the dynamics of their lives and relationships. After decades of dedicated work in spreading the philosophy that she initiated, her approach continues to be propagated throughout Israel as well as abroad by over 150 Shefer counselors and consultants.