Yonasan Bender, Past. C., C.N.T.

Hailing from a rural farm town in Iowa, Rabbi Yonasan Bender attended Drake University, a small private university in Des Moines. He majored in Philosophy and Rhetoric, Political Science, and World Religions. While there he worked with the organization Positive Pathways as dorm councilor for troubled teens caring for their physical and emotional wellbeing. He also volunteered with the Big Brother Program developing positive friendships and support for mentally challenged children.

Combining small town empathy along with a passion to learn, Rabbi Yonasan attended Yeshivas Bircas HaTorah for almost a decade. Receiving methodology training in Talmud as well as a strong background in the different branches of the mussar movement, he taught Gemara, halacha, and organized a mussar va’ad – a self-development group focusing on personal growth, character development, and practical methods to tap into one’s inherent greatness.

Rabbi Bender moved on to learn from Rav Yitzchak Berkovits for many years, ultimately receiving יורה יורה semicha in hilchos shabbos, issur v’heter, and niddah. Rav Berkovits’s rabbinic training places a strong emphasis on personal growth as well as a practical and conceptual understanding of religious growth that is organic, balanced, and healthy.

As a part of his rabbinic councilor education, he received training as an addictions counselor from Rabbi Shraga Schlachter, M.F.T. rooted in the 12 Steps approach. Under Dayan Yitzchak Silver and Rav Yirmiyohu Abramov, he received certification as a chosson instructor and marriage councilor going on to teach groups and give guidance to individual chossonim.

Outside his rabbinic training, Rabbi Bender is a Certified Narrative Therapist as well as a Crisis Intervention First Responder. Currently, he is continuing his education at Hebrew University’s Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare focusing on environmental and structural systems that effect people and how to use the different resources in a person’s world to tackle life’s challenges.

Given his eclectic education and work experience, Rabbi Yonasan Bender has worked with many people from very diverse backgrounds, from at-risk teens to single and married adults. His mix of secular education, religious studies, personal background, and mental health training enables him to offer unique insights into life’s problems, connect with the diverse life experiences, and to understand and care deeply about others.

Rabbi Bender’s approach to emotional wellness is holistic. He strongly believes that the problems people face in life are not individually based – people are not the problem; the problem is the problem. By focusing on the individual’s circumstances, unique environment, and valuable perspectives one is able to arrive at solid solutions to life’s problems, more fully develop personally meaningful experiences, and discover individual strengths that have been there all along just waiting to be tapped into.