Clinical Staff

Dr. Yisrael Levitz

Founding Dean

Dr. Yisrael Levitz is the founding dean of The Family Institute of Neve Yerushalayim. He is a Clinical Psychologist, ordained Rabbi, and Professor Emeritus of Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, where he held the distinguished Bennett Chair in Pastoral Psychology and headed the school’s Psychopathology and Human Behavior departments. He was a practicing psychologist for over three decades as well as director of the South Shore Psychological Center in Woodmere, New York. Dr. Levitz is a Board Certified Diplomate in Marriage and Family Therapy, a Fellow of the Academy of Family Psychology, and a noted lecturer on a wide variety of psychological and Judaic topics. Dr. Levitz was instrumental in training rabbinic students and designing the Pastoral Counseling program at Yeshiva University’s Rabbinic Seminary. He was appointed Director of Supplementary Rabbinic Studies for the Bella and Harry Wexner Rabbinic Program at Yeshiva University’s rabbinic seminary, and developed its pioneering program in pastoral counseling, conflict resolution, and communication skills for rabbis. He has recently published a book with Dr. Abraham Twerski entitled A Practical Guide to Rabbinic Counseling (Feldheim Publishing). He continues to train and instruct young rabbinic students and their wives at Yeshiva University’s Gruss Institute in Jerusalem.

Dr. Micha Belzer

Director of The Family Institute, Clinical Supervisor

Micha Belzer completed his studies in psychotherapy, couple and family therapy in the Hebrew University. He is a certified couples and family therapist and supervisor by The Israel Association for Couple and Family Therapy. He is currently completing his doctoral (PhD) studies in the Hebrew University, his topic of research is “religious and secular mixed couples”. He is certified as a parenting coordinator by the CPI Institute in America helping separated and divorcing parents to focus on the children. He has over 15 years of therapeutic experience in a variety of therapy institutes and experience in teaching different aspects of therapy. He is the director of The Family Institute and maintains a private practice in Jerusalem.

Deena Mendlowitz, M.S.W.

Clinical Director, Clinical Supervisor

Deena Mendlowitz earned an M.S.W. at Wurzweiler School of Social Work and a graduate degree in Assessment and Counseling at the Institute of Child Study at the University of Toronto. She worked in a wide range of social service agencies prior to making Aliya and completed postgraduate training in Family Therapy at The Family Institute of Neve Yerushalayim. She served on the faculty of the Master’s program in Clinical Sociology at the Center of Foreign Studies. Deena is currently the Clinical Director of The Family Institute and maintains a private practice in the Beit Shemesh area.

Rivkah Menkes, M.S.

Administrative Director, Clinical Supervisor

Rivkah Menkes, M.S. is the Administrative Director of The Family Institute. She is a  graduate who trained at The Family Institute for many years, after earning her Master’s degree in Clinical Sociology from the University of North Texas. Her role at The Family Institute includes the coordination of Professional Development Programs, along with a full range of key administrative functions. She maintains a private practice in Jerusalem as well as works on the Sexual Abuse Unit at The Family Institute.

Fran Ackerman, M.S.W.

Clinical Supervisor

Fran Ackerman, M.S.W., has worked directly with the pioneers of Family Therapy in the United States Drs. Murray Bowen, Salvador Minuchin, and Carl Whittaker. She is a former faculty member at the Ackerman Institute for the Family in New York City, the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, and the School of Social Work at Hebrew University. Her published work focuses on the clinical application of Bowen Family Systems Theory. In addition to being a Clinical Supervisor at The Family Institute, she maintains a private practice in Jerusalem.

Bracha Coopersmith, M.S.

Clinical Supervisor, Children's Unit Coordinator

Bracha Coopersmith, M.S. earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Sociology from the University of North Texas completed Postgraduate training in Family Therapy at The Family Institute of Neve Yerushalayim where she received extensive, specialized training in psychotherapy with children and their families. In addition to being the Coordinator of the Pinat HaYeled Children’s Unit, she maintains a private practice in Jerusalem.

Dr. Zev Ganz

Clinical Supervisor

Dr. Zev Ganz earned a master’s degree from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work of Yeshiva University and a doctoral degree from  Smith College School for Social Work where he holds an adjunct faculty post. He completed postgraduate training in Individual and Family therapy at The Family Institute of Neve Yerushalayim with a focus on working with young children and their families as well as the treatment of child sexual abuse. He is a certified practitioner of Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), having completed intensive training with Alicia Lieberman and Patricia Van Horn. Zev is currently a clinical supervisor and instructor at The Family Institute, a therapist at Machon Shiluv, and maintains a private practice in Ramat Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem.

Joan Kristall, M.S.W.

Clinical Supervisor

Joan B. Kristall, M.S.W., earned a Master’s degree in social work at the University of Denver and received a certificate in trauma treatment from the Institute for Advanced Psychotherapy Training and Education in Baltimore, MD. Prior to her aliyah, she was Clinical Coordinator for the Shofar Coalition, a collaborative community program for survivors of childhood trauma. Currently she is a clinical supervisor at The Family Institute and maintains a private practice in Jerusalem and Efrat.

Dr. Stacey Leibowitz-Levy

Clinical Supervisor, Trauma Unit Coordinator

Dr. Stacey Leibowitz-Levy is an experienced psychologist with wide ranging skills and expertise in the areas of trauma, anxiety, stress, and adjustment issues in adults and children. She has extensive experience in the training and supervision of mental health professionals in trauma work. Stacey was a board member of the South African Institute of Traumatic Stress Studies (SAITS) and has run self-care and supervision groups for trauma practitioners working with war veterans, refugees and torture survivors. She participated as an expert panel member in the development of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) intervention model for torture survivors. She worked as an academic at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa) for twelve years and has publications in in the trauma field. Stacey recently made Aliyah with her family to Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Barbara Reicher, M.S.W.

Clinical Supervisor, Sexual Abuse Unit Coordinator

Barbara Reicher, M.S.W., a graduate of Tel Aviv and Bar Ilan Universities, is a certified Family Therapist and supervisor. Her career has focused on treating children and families struggling with issues of abuse. Prior to her appointment as Coordinator of the Sexual Abuse Unit at The Family Institute, she was clinical director of the Israeli Association for Child Protection (E.L.I.). She is considered one of the foremost national experts in Israel on treating child sexual abuse, including both child victims and children with sexual behavior problems.

Miriam Timsit, M.S.W.

Clinical Supervisor

Miriam Timsit earned her M.S.W. from Adelphi University. She is a Clinical Supervisor at both The Family Institute and Machon Shiluv in Jerusalem. She was also a Clinical Supervisor at Hebrew University’s program in Family Therapy. Miriam maintains a private practice in Jerusalem.

Aviva Zahavi Asa, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.

Clinical Supervisor

Aviva Zahavi-Asa, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., received her clinical license in California in 1989 and worked with at-risk children and adolescents for ten years before making Aliya in 1997.  She completed post-Masters training at the Family Institute in 2009, and in 2011 completed advanced training in family therapy at the Magid Institute, School of Psychotherapy at the Hebrew University.  Since then, she has received recognition as a certified couples and family therapist and supervisor by the Israel Association for Couple and Family Therapy.  Since 2009, she has served as part of the clinical staff at Ma’ane, a therapy clinic under the auspices of Kiddum Noar of the Jerusalem Municipality, where she has provided individual therapy to at-risk adolescents, family therapy to teenagers and their families, and has worked with parents of at-risk youth.  At Ma’ane, she has also supervised social work students from the Hebrew University as well as social workers and family therapists from Kiddum Noar.  In addition, she worked at Machon Shiluv in Jerusalem from 2013-2020, providing couples and family therapy to a diverse client population as well as providing supervision to couple and family therapy interns.  She has maintained a private practice since 2007 in Jerusalem and Efrat providing individual, couples and family therapy in both Hebrew and English. She joined The Family Institute staff in 2019 as a clinical supervisor.