ELLEN GELLER KAMARAS
Mozelle Forman, née Kassin, is a creative, passionate, and giving person and is a woman of many talents. She is a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, a writer, and an artist. On a personal level, she is a loving daughter, sister, mother, and savta. Mozelle is so proud of her children and is over the moon about her grandchildren!
Before our interview, I watched a video of Mozelle’s on marriage counseling. I was moved by the empathy in her voice and the joy I heard as she described a couple’s journey “to heal and grow.” When we talked, I noticed the authentic and heartfelt desire and passion to help her clients navigate their relationships effectively.
Mozelle, daughter of Carol Calderone and Meyer J. Kassin, zt”l, is the oldest of five children. Meyer was the first of his siblings to be born in the U.S. and Carol was born in Alexandria, Egypt, raised in Israel where she served in the army, and later moved to the United States. Meyer’s father, Rabbi Jacob Kassin, zt”l, was the chief rabbi of the Sephardic community for 60 years. Meyer’s brother, Rabbi Shaul Kassin, zt”l, devoted his energies to the spiritual growth of the community until his passing in 2018. Meyer’s brother-in-law Hacham Baruch ben Haim, zt”l, was married to Meyer’s sister Charlotte, and dedicated his life to educating and guiding the community for over 50 years.
From the beginning of our interview, it was clear how much Mozelle’s family’s legacy of love of Torah, Israel, and community shaped her into the woman she is today. Since she was a little girl, Mozelle was aware of the huge contributions made by her rabbinical grandfather and uncles. Her father, Meyer, zt”l, earned rabbinical smicha and then went on to join his brothers in business. Meyer dedicated significant time and great effort as a community leader. He served as President in several shuls, both in Brooklyn and Deal (including Shaare Zion, Deal Synagogue, and Ohel Yaakob).
Carol, a loving and devoted stay-at-home mom, was also a very significant role model for Mozelle. Mozelle observed her mother’s empathic manner and her uncanny intuitiveness to read people and to know how to advise them. Mozelle processed the positive messages she received, recognizing that “this is what we do in life, we help people however best we can, that we lead by serving the community we love and respect.”
Mozelle attended Magen David Yeshivah elementary school, where she graduated as Valedictorian, and Yeshivah of Flatbush High School. She takes pride in being a “lifelong learner.”
Mozelle studied at Brooklyn College after high school and married Emile Mimran while she was in college. She majored in English, and gave birth to their first child, Carolyn, while she was earning her bachelor’s degree. Mozelle opted to be a stay-at- home mom when her children were young. She also managed to carve out time to volunteer at Sephardic Bikur Holim and Sephardic Community Center. Serving the community was a given for her. To Mozelle, family was also her legacy and meant everything to her. “Family and community are intertwined for me.” Adam was born two years after Carolyn and Reina, the youngest, followed three years later.
When Reina was six and in school full-time, Mozelle resumed her studies, and given her family legacy, she chose social work as “the best way to serve our community.” She enrolled in Wurzweiler School of Social Work and earned a master’s degree in Social Work in two years. Fortunately, Mozelle was on the same schedule as her children. “It was a wonderful experience, they were so excited. They would say, ‘Mommy, go do your homework! Did you study for your test? Mommy, can we make you lunch?’ Because I was busy with school, my children became more independent and stepped up to the plate in age-appropriate ways.”
CAREER PATH BEGINNINGS IN SOCIAL WORK
After receiving her MSW, Mozelle’s first job as a licensed clinical social worker was at the SCC in Brooklyn, where she was placed as a student intern during grad school. Mozelle became the Director of Social Services. She was later employed at Ilan High School for 12 years and wore many hats there including Director of Student Services.
Mozelle loved working with students. She was strongly influenced by Dr. Haim Ginott (1922-1973), who was a highly respected teacher, child psychologist, psychotherapist, and parent educator. He taught parents how to use a language of compassion and understanding and he believed that both parents and teachers should lead and inspire by example. “Treat a child as though he already is the person he’s capable of becoming,” he wrote in his best-selling book Between Parent and Child.
PRIVATE PRACTICE AS A RELATIONSHIP THERAPIST
While she was at Ilan High School, Mozelle started to build her private practice and pursued her training as a relationship therapist. The Imago Relationship Theory really spoke to Mozelle. Imago, developed by Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt, is a form of relationship and couples therapy that focuses on transforming conflict into healing and on growth through relational connection. “We are all trying to heal and grow. We do that in relationships, and in marriage you are going to find someone who is going to challenge you to be better than you are. The challenges can be painful but are also a sign of growth.” Mozelle was mentored in Imago by Hedy Schleifer, an internationally known master relationship builder.
Mozelle refers to individual and couples therapy as “relationship counseling.” “I believe if we lived in a bubble, by ourselves, we would have no issues; it’s only in relationships that we get triggered, and that’s when we are tested in how well we are doing and how well we can interact. I ask a client: ‘What is it that you are doing or not doing that is impacting your relationship?’
“Individually, we each bring something to a third entity, the marriage, which becomes the client. I encourage couples to learn to communicate what they need rather than blaming each other for what is wrong. Observing ‘what happens to our marriage when I do A and you do B, and what can we do to make that different?’ is the ultimate focus of my work with couples.”
Mozelle has become a sought-after speaker for many of our community’s institutions. She has developed parenting and marital workshops for SBH, communication workshops for Hillel Yeshiva, and teacher training workshops for many schools.
MOZELLE’S CREATIVE SIDE
In addition to relationship therapy, Mozelle’s passions include writing and art.
Mozelle always enjoyed expressing herself through words and loved writing as a graduate student. When her children were little, Mozelle was asked to create a poem to be used in a Mother’s Day card that was sold to raise funds for Magen David Yeshivah and she published a weekly newsletter at Ilan High School. Mozelle is a contributing writer for Community Magazine and for several years she authored a monthly column called “Healthy Homelife.” Her goal was to raise awareness and provide tools for building healthy marriages and relationships. Mozelle was honored to write an article for Community Magazine about the 13th Siyum HaShas, a global celebration of the daily DafYomiTalmudstudyprogram. Ayearago,Mozellegaveupwritingthe “Healthy Homelife” column to pursue her current passion of painting with pastels.
Mozelle began to paint with pastels as a hobby and discovered that she loved it! She joined a pastel society and submitted her paintings to competitions. Mozelle won the top award at the Waltuch Gallery in Tenafly. The prize was to have her own solo show where she sold several of her paintings. “It was so thrilling that this hobby parlayed into something wonderful, a new career.” (Check out Mozelle’s paintings on her website, http:// mozelleformanfineart.com/)
THE COVID-19 PIVOT
Mozelle continued to exhibit her paintings at other galleries and then COVID-19 hit. Although her planned shows were cancelled, she still paints almost daily in her dedicated studio and she shares her work on Instagram. “Painting has kept me sane during the pandemic and I find it very gratifying and soothing to create and share my works.”
In response to the uptick in anxiety that the pandemic has generated, Mozelle developed a four-part workshop at SBH to address community members’ anxieties. She has also provided grief counseling and other support services to her clients and to the community.
To relax, Mozelle loves to read historical fiction, mysteries, and detective stories and she enjoys yoga and Pilates.
You can connect with Mozelle by email at mozelleforman@ gmail.com or on Instagram @mozelle.forman.