Rachel Karesh, LCSW,  Recipient of The Rabbi Dr. Jack D Frank, zt”l, Memorial Scholarship Award

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It did not take much analysis on the part of the Nefesh Chicago Board to recognize Rabbi Dr. Jack D. Frank, zt”l, as the source of inspiration in creating and naming a new scholarship to benefit Orthodox mental health professionals [MHP] and their professional development. Rabbi Dr. Jack D Frank’s name is synonymous with pioneering the integration of Chicago Orthodox Rabbinate and professional psychological services. From the mid-1960’s thru the mid-1990’s, Rabbi Dr. Frank, zt”l, served as the pulpit Rabbi of Peterson Park’s Congregation KJBS and additionally was a licensed therapist. He was compassionate and accomplished in both roles for over three decades. At Ida Crown Jewish Academy he was a teacher and instituted the College Guidance Department of which he became Director.

The Rabbi Dr. Jack D. Frank zt”l Memorial Scholarship Award will help a deserving mental health professional attend the celebrated annual Nefesh International Conference, an annual 3-day event held in New York during December each year. This conference attracts the best and brightest Orthodox mental health professionals and offers a wide variety of cutting-edge presentations, workshops, networking opportunities, and sessions that promote professional development.

Nefesh Chicago is extremely grateful to the family of Rabbi Dr. Jack D. Frank, zt”l, for sponsoring the first and remaining four years of this annual scholarship which will honor a different recipient each year. Rabbi Frank would have been extremely proud of this scholarship in his name as he facilitated, pioneered, and effected a positive change in the Orthodox community’s perception of mental health services. 

This year’s recipient is Rachel “Rachie” Karesh, LCSW. Rachel Karesh, LCSW, holds a Masters degree in Social Work from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work. For the past 10 years, Rachie has worked as the Clinical Director at Madraigos Midwest. Rachie was instrumental in the building and opening of the Mozes and Helen Stern Counseling Center at Madraigos Midwest and was responsible for all assessments, counseling, and crisis intervention of the teens referred to the Counseling Center.

Rachie now serves as the Executive Director of Madraigos Midwest. In her new role, she is responsible for designing, developing and implementing strategic plans for the organization. As well, she manages the day-to-day operations of the organization including staff relationship management, collaboration with the Board of Directors of Madraigos, all in an effort to reach new heights and help even more families in more comprehensive ways. 

The plethora of conference sessions that Rachie is attending in NY, are adding to the value to her skills as a therapist. The NY conference a fortifying and validating experience, rich with inclusion and professional challenges

Formed in 1996, Nefesh Chicago, is a local chapter of Nefesh International, and has been dedicated to serving the mental health professional needs of Chicago’s Jewish community. The membership in Nefesh International includes Torah-observant psychologists, professional counselors, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, social workers, marriage and family counselors, pastoral counselors, and graduate students.

It was logical and compelling for Rabbi Dr. Frank, zt”l, to join the newly formed professional organization for MHPs at its inception.  He was one of the very first Chicago Orthodox Rabbis to recognize that the Jewish community was not immune to mental and emotional challenges and that individuals would benefit from therapy and social services. Rabbi Dr. Frank, zt”l, was instrumental in opening Chicago chapter of JACS [Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others, an addictions recovery support group], which he ran for decades.

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