About Us

Machon Dvir provides group and individual DBT therapy in complex and clinically challenging cases. Its team members are conducting research and providing education to the mental health sector in Israel and to the wider Jewish community.

Dr. Shmuel Harris, MD – Founder & Director

The Machon Dvir team is led by Dr. Shmuel Harris, a Board Certified Adult Psychiatrist, who made Aliya from Australia and currently lives in Jerusalem. Dr. Harris completed his medical training in Australia and his psychiatric residency at Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Karem, Jerusalem. From 2013 to 2018 he was Director of the Psychiatric Clinical Service at Hadassah University Hospital on Mount Scopus, with Emergency and Consultant Liaison responsibilities. He is active in teaching psychiatry and psychopharmacology to medical, pharmacology and nursing students at Hebrew University. He is a member of the Israeli Medical Association, the Israel Psychiatric Association, and a registered medical practitioner on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Dr. Harris runs a private psychiatric practice that specializes in serving the young adult English-speaking population in Israel. He consults for and works closely with many Jerusalem therapists and treats many clients referred by English-speaking yeshivot, seminaries and kollels in the city.

Recognizing the advantages of a highly professional and integrated team approach, Dr. Harris established Machon Dvir as an evidence-based, multi-disciplinary DBT clinical service. He and his team are currently researching the epidemiology and symptomatology of mental and behavioral health issues among students spending their gap year in Israel, in order to provide optimal mental health services to this population.

Dr. Tzachi Fried, PhD – Clinical Director

The DBT clinical service at Machon Dvir is managed by clinical psychologist Dr. Tzachi Fried. Having made aliyah in 2012 from New York to Beit Shemesh, Dr. Fried understands the challenges facing English-speakers in Israel. He specializes in helping adolescents and adults experiencing behavioral and emotional difficulties, and he has extensive experience with treating complex and challenging clients using DBT and other treatment models.

Dr. Fried studied at Yeshiva University (B.A. Psychology cum laude) and at St. John’s University in New York (M.A. & Ph.D. Clinical Psychology), where his dissertation research focused on stressors and coping responses among Orthodox Jews. Dr. Fried completed his specialized clinical training working with personality-disordered patients at New York’s Bellevue Hospital Center, and with delinquent youth legally mandated to a residential treatment center. After moving to Israel, he worked as an Educational Psychologist for the Jerusalem Municipality, advising teachers and parents and providing psychotherapy to students and their families.

Dr. Fried has taught psychology at Touro College in Jerusalem and Brooklyn, and he lectures on DBT strategies and techniques to therapists in Israel. Dr. Fried’s extensive research and teaching experience are key to Machon Dvir’s development as a center of clinical, educational and research excellence.

Heather Moshel, LCSW  – Senior Clinician

Heather moved to Israel in 2012 and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh with her family. She is a senior clinician in Machon Dvir’s group and individual therapies program.

Heather has worked extensively with children, adolescents and adults in New York, including as a member of the DBT team at Schneider Children’s Hospital (now Cohen Children’s Medical Center, a part of North Shore / LIJ Hospital) as well as providing counseling at the Bleuler Psychotherapy Center in Queens, Ohel Children’s Home & Family Services, Yeled v’Yalda, and Sephardic Bikur Holim in Brooklyn.

Heather graduated from Barnard College with a BA (cum laude) in Sociology and Psychology, and received her MSW from Hunter College. She also completed a post-graduate program at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies in New York. Her clinical and research interests include trauma work and attachment theory. In addition to providing group and individual therapy at Machon Dvir, Heather also has a private practice in Ramat Beit Shemesh, working with adolescents and adults.

Jonathan Ifrah, LSW – Senior Clinician

Jonathan Ifrah was born in Philadelphia and educated in Brooklyn, New York. He earned his MSW from Long Island University, along with the Dean’s Award for Clinical Excellence, and he is a licensed social worker in New Jersey and in Israel.

Having lived in Israel since 2005, Jonathan formally made Aliyah in 2015. Here he has studied Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (including IE-DP Core Training), Schematherapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). He has worked as a Clinical Social worker for a number of religious institutions in Jerusalem, and he is also a Rebbe at Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Jonathan has a private practice in the Arzai Habira neighborhood, specializing in providing psychotherapy. At Machon Dvir, Jonathan leads DBT Skills Groups and provides individual psychotherapy and DBT for men.

Elana Pesah, LMSW – Staff Therapist

Originally from California, Elana Pesah received her Master’s Degree (MPP) from the University of Chicago and her MSW from Long Island University – Brooklyn, where she was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Alpha Eta Honor Societies. Elana received her LMSW qualification from the State of New York. Elana has helped struggling families at the New York City Housing Development Corporation, and counseled seminary students while working for Touro College.

Elana works individually with clients and runs DBT skills groups, as well as providing case management and administration. Beyond her work at Machon Dvir, Elana maintains her own private practice in Jerusalem and incorporates multiple modalities into her therapeutic work with her clients, including DBT and psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Leah Kantor Gottleib, LMSW Staff Therapist

Leah has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Haifa and she has completed courses in CBT and psychodynamic therapy and in Mindfulness. She recently completed her graduate degree in clinical social work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with a specialty in trauma. She has experience in leading workshops and group therapy and believes in the power and effectiveness of group therapy.

Fluent in Hebrew and English, Leah worked as a social worker at the Herzog Medical Center, OhrLeNefesh, and the Modi’in Illit Center for Social Welfare, where she developed individualized treatment plans for clients of all ages.

Leah has worked as a social worker at a post-seminary therapeutic facility in Jerusalem, presenting weekly psycho-educational workshops on subjects such as communication, self-awareness, emotional regulation, nutrition and mindfulness. She believes that helping young people to invest in their emotional health can greatly influence the trajectory of their adult lives. She is also a keen believer in nutrition, meditation and a mindful lifestyle.

Chedva Wielgus, LSW – Staff Therapist 

Chedva graduated cum laude from Queens College with a B.A.  in sociology and received a Master’s in Social work from Wurzweiler School of Social Work in conjunction with Hebrew University.

Chedva spent a year at Yachad in New York administering intakes, running a skills-building group, and conducting individual psychotherapy sessions for individuals with special needs. Chedva also served as an advisor and head advisor for the Atlantic Seaboard region of NCSY for several years, running programming and mentoring teenagers in both the United States and Israel.  

At Machon Dvir, Chedva works individually with clients and runs DBT skills-groups. She also works at MMY seminary, learning with and mentoring the girls there. She grew up in New York, moved to Israel in August of 2019, and made formal Aliyah in April of 2020. 

Orah Wilens- Clinical Intern

Orah is from Chicago, IL and graduated from Touro Manhattan with a B.A in Psychology. She is currently in her second year of her Master’s from Wurzweiler School of Social Work in conjunction with Hebrew University.

She spent her first year of field work working at the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan where she helped run programming and support groups in the older adult department. Orah also has many years of experience serving as an NCSY advisor, mentoring teenagers for both the Midwest and West Coast regions, as well as working on summer programs in Israel. She is also the co-founder of 4G NCSY, the first statewide NCSY program specifically for girls.

Orah works as a co-leader in DBT skills groups at Machon Dvir, and will be working with individual clients.