who is a first supporter?

In times of personal crisis, a person will often turn first to their spiritual/religious leader.

The religious leader is in a unique position to respond to people who are impacted by a crisis because he or she is already in an established role, has a core of relationships, and brings a faith perspective that speaks to the need for meaning that is so pervasive in the human experience of suffering.

•Rabbi   •Rebbetzin   •Kallah teacher  •Chosson teacher   •Mashpia/ Madrich  •Askan

Addressing a need:

When presented with a crisis in the life of a congregant, student or mushpa, First Supporters want to be of support and assistance and they always mean well.  Sometimes, the crisis that presents is very large and beyond the experience of the religious leader.  The First Supporter Project aims to provide a series of resources and inspiration to assist the religious leader in being the best support they can be for the particular situation.


What is covered in this project, what is not:

While a First Supporter is called in on many types of crises, the first phase of  The First Supporter Project will only address crises that may impact a marriage (shiduchim, engagement and the marriage). See complete list of issues below.


Mode of sharing the resources:

All resources will be online on The First Supporter Project website; the site will be password protected so that it is not accessible to the general public. Each issue will have its own page on the site and will be covered through a combination of short videos, visuals, articles and audio.

To make the user experience as easy and pleasant as possible, the issues will be covered in a consistent way.  Additionally, each topic will be broken into short subtopic segments so that the user can easily find the exact resource they are seeking (as opposed to one long video or essay on the topic).  

how you can contribute to this project:

Experts in various areas of mental health and pastoral counseling can share of their experience and insights to help the First Supporters be as helpful as possible in their role.  This can be as an audio/video recording of an interview/ discussion, or as a presentation 45-55 minutes - as the expert is most comfortable.  Questions for each topic can be shared in advance.  (As applicable, your or your organization or agency's info can be included on your page.)

topics to be included in this phase of the project:

  • Pastoral Counseling 101  (with Dr. David Pelcovitz)

  • First Supporter's Role (with Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, LCSW-R)

  • Involving the Police (with Henna White)

  • Religious Understandings & Marriage (with Dr. Yitzchok Schechter)

  • The People in the Problem (with Rabbi Shimon Gruen)

  • When spouse doesn’t want to go for help - coming

  • Shiduchim Anxiety (with Dr. Chani Maybruch)

  • Shiduchim Anxiety (with Meir Rizel, LMHC)

  • Emotional Infidelity (with Dr. Binyamin Tepfer)

  • Female Sexual Issues (with Pamela Klein, LCSW)

  • Sexual Issues (with Dov Finkelstein, LMSW)

  • Domestic Abuse (with Lisa Twerski, LCSW)

  • Sexual Addiction (with David Kohn, LCSW, CASAC)

  • Addiction Recovery & Spirituality (Rabbi Yosef Lipsker)

  • Addicted To Porn (with Rabbi Shmuel Maybruch, LSCW)

  • Gambling

  • Alcoholism (with Lew Abrams, ACSW, LCSW, CASAC)

  • Drug Addiction (with Amudim)

  • Dealing with At-Risk-Teenagers (with MASK)

  • OCD/ Scrupulosity (with Meshulem Epstein, LCSW)

  • OCD/ Mikvah (with Shaindy Bondi, LCSW)

  • Sick Child (with Chai Lifeline/ Dr. Cheryl Book)

  • Infertility (with ATIME)

  • Perinatal Depression (with Rus Devorah Wallen, LCSW, ACSW)

  • Children & Marriage in Crisis (with Dr. Mark Banshick)

  • Think of the Children (with My Extended Family)

  • Death of Child

  • Trauma 

  • Meddling In-laws (with Rabbi Dr. David Fox)

  • Change in levels of religiosity (with Yitzie Horowitz, LCSW)

  • Parnassah & Shalom Bayis - coming

  • Basics of Beis Din Process / Gittin - coming

  • Suspect having extra marital affair - coming

any other ideas?

typical questions to be included in the presentation

Other questions specific to the topics should also be addressed.  The expert knows the topic best and can add/change questions.​

  • Definition of the [issue].

  • Typical ways that person will present this to the [first supporter].

  • Ways that husband and wife may be impacted by this issue (difference in gender).

  • What is the goal of the conversation between [first supporter] and the person/ couple.

  • What flags to look out for when issue is presented? How to uncover those.

  • What might be the underlying issues/reasons the person acting this way.

  • How might  each spouse be feeling/ thinking/ struggling with/ react.

  • What might the [first supporter] say to be supportive (‘framework of script’).

  • What might be some advice to share about what the impacted spouse should/ could be doing at this time?

  • What might be the role of the [first supporter] as a spiritual guide/ what spiritual guidance is generally effective in such cases?

  • What should be brought up, even if uncomfortable

  • What not to say (specific to this issue).

  • What are some mistakes that [first supporters] make.

  • What are the parameters of the role of the [first supporter] / referral to professionals (what type of help is needed).

  • How to be a support/ boundaries/ role in the healing team.

  • Resources / support to suggest.

  • More reading/ video on this topic.

For suggestions and questions, please contact Devora Krasnianski at [email protected]

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