Prof. Jona Rosenfeld, founding director of the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute’s Program for Learning from Success and Ongoing Collaborative Learning in Human Services and long-time friend of the Institute, recently received the Edith Abbot Award of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. The award recognizes an alumnus of the School of Social Service for distinguished service to society and for outstanding professional contributions at the local, national, or international levels.
Prof. Rosenfeld was recognized for “seeking to promote and work for social justice by building knowledge and shaping both practice and policy responses to social inequality and the needs and circumstances of the most vulnerable among us.” This had already been the focus of the first groundbreaking study started in the late 1960s on exclusion and extreme poverty in Israel together with the International Movement ATD Fourth World, a world-wide organization that addresses these issues. It continues today with his interest in uncovering successes of the past in order to deduce from them the actions which might enable their deployment in the future.
This notion that people can learn from their successes, as opposed to only from their failures, formed the basis for the establishment of the Institute’s program for Learning from Success (LFS) as a way to encourage ongoing learning in the human services. Through Prof. Rosenfeld’s work, continuous learning processes have now been adopted widely by many voluntary organizations and the Israeli government, including the Ministries of Social Affairs, Labor, and Education, the latter with a special emphasis on the Arab population. The LFS courses for training "learning companions" have contributed to extending learning processes within a wide range of human service organizations was further refined recently with the development of a special course designed for the training department in the Israel Defense Forces. The participating officers thus gain tools to introduce the value of Learning from Success, and go on to develop their own training programs within the IDF. Learning from Success has also recently been introduced into ATD Fourth World.
Beyond his direct work with the Institute, Prof. Rosenfeld has been involved with a range of activities in the field of social work. He was one of the first full professors at the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a member of the board of the International Association of Schools of Social Work, the National Association of Social Workers in Israel, and the cofounder of the National Council of the Child in Israel. He is the author of over 100 publications and studies, including five books.
In 1998, Prof. Rosenfeld received national recognition for his innovative work, when he became the first recipient of the Israel Prize for research in social work. The highest national prize awarded to experts in their fields, the Israel Prize recognized Prof. Rosenfeld’s unique role in the development in the field of social work and in social welfare of Israel. It also represented a new level of recognition of the social work field itself, particularly as it was awarded on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.
Always ahead of his time, Prof. Rosenfeld’s work remains very much a part of the future agenda for the education of social workers and the development of social service organizations and policies. At age 88, he continues to write, teach, and travel throughout Israel and around the world to promote this agenda.
For more information on the Institute’s program on Learning from Success and On-going Collaborative Learning in Human Services, please visit our website here.