Madraigos Midwest supports and enhances the emotional, social and spiritual health of adolescents, young adults and their families with an array of innovative prevention and intervention programs and services. We guide, encourage and uplift youth to reach their potential – Step by Step.
When a young person feels safe, secure and accepted, can they truly thrive and accomplish all that is in their potential. At Madraigos, every individual, regardless of circumstance, feels just that. By establishing a warm, non-judgmental and safe environment, Madraigos motivates and inspires its participants to overcome their challenges and advance their life goals.
Madraigos is committed to providing the necessary resources to individuals and family’s to facilitate healthy choices and positive outcomes. In addition to the many independent services offered by Madraigos, we coordinate closely with community support systems and organizations to provide a holistic approach and broad-based solutions. Madraigos gathers all professional resources from the community to ensure our referrals will meet the needs of each individual with paramount success. We serve as an unbiased agent for the family to pair them with the most qualified, competent, and appropriate recommendation. Madraigos will remain connected throughout the journey of growth for support and guidance.
Rabbi Yehuda Polstein
Rabbi Yehuda Polstein is the Executive Director of Madraigos Midwest, an organization dedicated to helping Jewish adolescents grow and develop – step by step. Yehuda is a veteran teen advocate and has been involved in Jewish youth groups for over 15 years. Yehuda has served as a Chaplain at Northwestern University and as the Director of North Shore NCSY and MIE Torah High: The Melvin I. Eisenberg Institute for Judaic Studies. He has also been a volunteer and advisor for BBYO and for other teen programs including Ta’am Yisrael, the JUF’s 8th grade Israel experience. In 2011, Yehuda and his wife Mashi founded a family-based Hebrew school in Deerfield called the Jewish Family Experience together with Associated Talmud Torahs of Chicago. Yehuda and Mashi received the Evan Goldberg-Mailing Innovation in Education Award in 2016 in recognition of their efforts. The Polsteins live in Northbrook with their three children: Eliyahu, Shuey, and Sara Baila.
Yehuda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yankie Greenberger, LCSW
After spending 3 years studying in Israel, Yankie graduated from Touro College with a major in Psychology. He continued his education at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work and earned his Master’s in Social Work. After 3 yrs of successful work at TOVA Mentoring Program, in which he became a supervisor, Yankie took his skills, training, and experience working with teenagers to The Yatzkan Center, then in Mount Vernon, NY. The Yatzkan Center was a drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment facility servicing Jewish adolescents from around the world. Yankie was a Primary Counselor of the program and engaged the residents in individual therapy as well as group therapy. In August 2006, Yankie moved to Los Angeles to become the Clinical Director of Adolescent Services of Aish Tamid of Los Angeles. He played a vital role with all Aish Tamid programming and services including designing and developing Pardes Academy and Aish Tamid’s Teen Drop-In Center. Yankie was also the school-based therapist in YULA Boys High School for Aleinu. Additionally, he was a Board of Behavioral Sciences registered Associate Clinical Social Worker in the state of California.
Yankie and his family moved to Chicago in August 2009 upon accepting the position of Clinical Director of Madraigos Midwest. He is responsible for the oversight of all clinical and programming services of Madraigos, including assessing and evaluating cases of teens and young adults, providing support, referrals, case management, therapeutic mentoring, prevention programs and crisis intervention. He brings his experience of establishing and running effective recreational programming and implements those programs at Madraigos Midwest.
Rachie Karesh, LCSW
Rachel Karesh, LCSW, holds a Masters degree in Social Work from Yeshiva University’s, Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Having lived in Israel for a number of years, Rachel worked as intern social worker at both Shaarei Tzedek Hospital and Tikva, a therapeutic seminary for kids-at-risk. Upon finishing her internships, she was approached to be part of the administrative team of Meor Hatorah Seminary in Israel, to serve as the individual responsible for the mental health of the students. She worked there for two years until she returned to Chicago.
Since her return, Rachel served as the school social worker for Hillel Torah North Suburban Day School in 2009-2010. Additionally, she has worked as the camp social worker at Moshava Wild Rose for the past 6 years. She is now working as the clinical director at Madraigos Midwest. She has created prevention programming for girls both in and out of schools. Additionally, she is responsible for the assessments, case management and crisis intervention of our referred teens.
Shira Berkokwitz, LMSW
Coordinator of School-Based Programming
Shira Berkowitz, LMSW, graduated from the Jane Addams School of Social Work at The University of Illinois and Chicago. While in school, Shira founded and directed a mentorship program in Hanna Sacks Bais Yaakov, Chicago. She then moved to New York and worked at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services as a social worker in the Preventative Care Department.
In 2003, Shira joined The SAFE Foundation as a Prevention Skills teacher for their Project SAFE School Program, then became Director of the Program in 2010. As director of Project SAFE, Shira served as the liaison between the schools and SAFE, as well as training, supervising, and coordinating SAFE teachers. She helped to develop and maintain the 2,000 page curriculum, organized professional development trainings, coordinated special programs and marketed the program to other schools. While working with Project SAFE, Shira also served as the School Social Worker in Magen David High School for a number of years. In the summers Shira works at Camp Nageelah Midwest as the camp Social Worker.
Shira returned to Chicago and joined the Madraigos Midwest team as the Coordinator of School-Based Programs, working to implement the Barry and Harriet Ray Steps to Healthy Living Curriculum in all the local participating Jewish day schools. In her position at Madraigos, Shira works with each school to tailor-make a curriculum that fits with their schedules and their unique needs as a school community. She is responsible for the training and consultation with all of the teachers/guidance staff and implementing the Madraigos prevention classes in the schools. She also sees adolescent clients as a clinician in our Counseling Center.
Tobi Goldfeder, LMSW
Tobi Goldfeder was born and bred in Chicago, IL and has a variety of experiences in social work and non-profit organizations. Working with teens in different aspects such as teen director in camp, teaching in high schools, and seminary dorm counselor motivated her to acquire her life coach certification and masters in social work with a focus on addiction counsling. Being in university part time enabled her to gain a lot of experience working in marketing and event planning, founding and directing a teen summer travel camp, and various teaching positions. All this as well as internships as a family therapist for child and family services and high school guidance counselor have come together to act as a strong background for her work at Madraigos Midwest .
Rabbi Eric Goldman, LMSW
Rabbi Eric Goldman lives in West Rogers Park with his wife, Leora, and their four children. After completing semicha, Rabbi Goldman received a Masters in Social Work from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work and worked as a Sgan Mashgiach Ruchani at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan. In addition to working at Madriagos, Rabbi Goldman also works with TAG Chicago, the Fasman Yeshiva High School and the Skokie Community Kollel
Shuli Tsadok, LMSW, received her masters in social work from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Shuli completed her first year of her internship training while living in Israel where she worked in Darkaynu, a seminary for girls with special needs. There she was responsible for the mental health of both the students and staff members. After moving back home to Chicago, Shuli spent her second year as an intern at Madraigos Midwest. Under the guidance of Madraigos Midwest, she was placed as a clinician in Arie Crown Hebrew Day School and Ida Crown Jewish Academy where she worked with students by offering individual counseling and providing educational programming. After finishing her Master’s degree, Shuli continued working in Ida Crown Jewish Academy as a school social worker, a position she has held for the past 4 years. Shuli provides counseling for Ida Crown students on an individual basis and also teaches the Barry and Harriet Ray Steps to Healthy Living Curriculum. Additionally, she has served as the assistant director of NCSY 4G, the girl’s division of Midwest NCSY, for the past three years. Shuli sees adolescent clients in our Counseling Center.
Tsippy Kohen, LCPC
Tzippy Kohen, LCPC, lives in West Rogers Park with her husband and six children. She has been working with teens and young adults for 20 years. Her background includes high school teaching, community lecturing on mental health awareness and abuse prevention and at-risk prevention for teens. In addition to counseling clients at the Counseling Center, she is currently working as a counselor in a local high school and maintains a private practice. Her primary areas of focus are depression, anxiety, abuse, and family system issues. After receiving extensive training in exposure and response therapy, Tzippy has developed a program to effectively treat children and adults struggling with OCD. Tzippy also practices premarital counseling particularly for victims of molestation and individuals with mental health struggles. She coaches parents and teachers empowering them to be more effective and to develop healthier relationships. Tzippy is grateful for the opportunity to participate in her clients’ journeys toward goal achievement, satisfying relationships and a quality life.
Rivkah Efron was born and raised in Skokie and now lives in Chicago with her Husband and 4 children. Rivkah has worked in her family’s Optometry business in serval capacities and roles since she was a child. This experience in her family’s business allowed her to develop a strong sense of commitment and pride in all her endeavors along with the versatility to work in any setting and modality. Rivkah’s love for people is apparent and magnetic which made her the perfect fit for the manly roles she played in the early Madragos girls programing. After several years of the raving successes of Rivkah’s volunteer work, measured by the increases in attendance and additional programs, Madragos had no other choice, but to add her to the growing wonderful staff. Rivkah runs the Madraigos Girls Lounge, a once-weekly “hang out” for high school girls where they can be themselves and talk about their week. The Lounge drop-in center provides teens with a safe, fun and nurturing environment, under the supervision and guidance of Madraigos staff.
Daveed Hagage was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. After completing two years of study in Israel at Yeshivat Yesodei Hatorah, Daveed moved to Chicago and attended Hebrew Theological College from which he received his BA in Judaic Studies. In August 2015, Daveed began working at Madraigos as an intern running the Boys’ Lounge as well as working in the schools. Daveed still runs our Lounge and is heavily involved in the Madraigos Basketball League as well as other boys programming throughout the city.
Sarah Comar is a proud product of the Chicago Jewish community. She has experience working in various office and classroom settings since she graduated from Rochelle Zell Jewish High School in 2016. She held an internship in 2016 at Corkill Insurance Agency, where she gained skills in the field of insurance, customer service, and office management. She came to Madraigos Midwest in 2017, where she works with marketing, accounting, fundraising, event planning, and office management. She is currently a student at TI majoring in education and a Hebrew school teacher at Beth Hillel Academy when she is not at the Madraigos office. Sarah is proud to bring her skills to Madraigos where she feels that she has the opportunity to make a difference in the Chicago Jewish community she loves so much every single day.