About Our Approach
Many research studies indicate the essentiality of "social-emotional learning" as a part of education, beginning in early childhood. Accordingly, the MAGEN program is grounded in the five principles of social-emotional learning:
- Identifying one’s own feelings
- Identifying the feelings of others
- Effective coping with emotions
- Effective coping in social situations
- Solving problems effectively and responsibly
We developed the MAGEN program based on these five principles, with the aim of empowering children and teens to best adapt to life in Israeli society.
MAGEN is an acronym for the Hebrew words for mind, body, and soul (moach, guf, and nefesh), which are the three levels at which empowerment takes place.
The name points to the holistic nature of the approach, which utilizes a person’s diverse strengths for the sake of psychological empowerment and optimizing social integration.
MAGEN is also an ecological approach, in the sense that it is reflected in all spheres of the child's environment, beginning with his/her inner world and extending to interactions between the child and the environment.
Who We Are:
A group of professional caregivers and educators who believe that the "goal" of education is to address children’s psychological/emotional needs so that they can develop a healthy self-image and attain achievements and happiness.
Experience shows that Western society in general, and the education system in particular, emphasizes achievement as a supreme value. Despite paying lip service to mental health, addressing emotional needs is not emphasized in the education system. As a result, we have difficulty not only in achieving excellence but also in creating a society of individuals who enjoy a sense of mental well-being.
- Dr. Simcha (Stuart) Chesner – Founder and Professional Director of the MAGEN Center. A resident of Ma'ale Adumim, Israel, Dr. Chesner is married to Rachel and has six children. He holds a PhD in Psychology and is a senior lecturer. He established an educational network for children with special needs. He is the author of the bestselling book The Child Within the Armor, which describes the challenges facing parents and educators of the current generation. Previously, he developed a specialized approach to treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
- Renana Alami – Director of the MAGEN Center. Renana lives in Ma'ale Adumim, Israel, is married to Dvir and has three children. She holds a BA in informal education and a teaching certificate, with 10 years of experience in counseling and mentoring at-risk youth and managing educational projects, for youth in general and for at-risk youth in particular. She has worked with the Ethiopian community in Ma’ale Adumim for about a decade.
- Raya Zauda – Educational Counselor, Mentor, and Alumni Coordinator. Raya resides in Ma'ale Adumim, Israel. She holds a BA in occupational therapy and has worked for many years with the Ethiopian community in Ma'aleh Adumim. For her National Service, she served as the head of the branch of the "Bnei Akiva" youth movement in Katzrin, Israel. She has experience coordinating projects in informal education.
- Elisheva Polinsky – Educational Counselor, Mentor, and Project Coordinator. A resident of Ma'ale Adumim, Israel, Elisheva immigrated to Israel at age 8 from New York. She holds a BA in special education and communication. Recently, she has worked in various frameworks for special education and behavioral disorders, as well as in a post-hospitalization settings.
- Tal Diamant – Educational Counselor, Mentor, and Coordinator of Therapeutic Cooking Activities. Tal resides in Jerusalem and holds a BA in special education and communication. For her National Service, she served as the head of the branch of the "Bnei Akiva" youth movement in Yeruham, Israel.
- Shalom Guyat – Educational Counselor, Mentor, and Employment Coordinator. A resident of Ma'ale Adumim, Israel, Shalom is married to Nava and has four children. He holds a BA in Education and an MA in Educational Counseling. He has extensive experience in formal and informal education and in working with at-risk youth.
- Yael Hayun – Educational Counselor and Mentor.
- Renana Melamed – Educational Counselor and Mentor. Renana holds a BA in Education and a teaching certificate. Her experience is in formal and informal education, with an emphasis on working with at-risk youth. In the past, she served in various supervision capacities in informal education for at-risk populations.
- Dr. Reuven Ben Haim – Head Chef in the Therapeutic Kitchen and Therapeutic Cooking Instructor. A resident of Ma'ale Adumim, Israel, Dr. Ben Haim is married to Michal and the father of five children. He holds a BA in archeology, a teaching certificate, and an MA in education. He is currently completing a PhD in education at Hebrew University. He is one of the founders of the Na'ale program. For around ten years, he worked as the principal of a primary and secondary school. He is a lecturer at Levinsky College with the “Teach First Israel” program, is director of practical training at the Jerusalem College’s Ramim Program (Torah studies), and has worked as a teacher for the past 13 years.
- Mulo Katla – Soccer coach. A resident of Ma'ale Adumim, Israel, Mulo is married to Mazi and father of one child. He immigrated from Ethiopia at the age of 15. He serves as a mentor for at-risk youth in the city of Ma'ale Adumim.