Individual empowerment is a GIFT these teachers gladly receive

Individual empowerment is a GIFT these teachers gladly receive

Sam Rosenberg, president of INPAX, tells participants to trust their instincts.

Photo by Adam Reinherz
Sam Rosenberg, president of INPAX, tells participants to trust their instincts. Photo by Adam Reinherz

What happens when one teacher hits another teacher? Empowerment, or at least that’s what they were saying at Community Day School on Monday night.

Under the auspices of GIFT (Giving It Forward, Together), teachers, parents and community members began a series of self-defense classes on Monday, Feb. 22 at Community Day School with Sam Rosenberg, president of INPAX.

“Helplessness is a myth,” said Rosenberg. “People can protect themselves if they use their mind.”

Over the course of Monday’s initial two-hour session, Rosenberg explained how the brain works, the physiology of fear and why people react in particular ways during conflict.

“Condition your mind to be aware of your surroundings,” Rosenberg told listeners. “Trust your instincts, and they won’t lead you astray.”

Following his presentation, Rosenberg guided participants through a series of self-defense tactics. While breaking into twos, teachers took turns employing Rosenberg’s instructed practices.  

Rosenberg founded INPAX in 2003 with a goal of teaching people how to protect themselves. Since that time, he has provided training to athletes, teachers, business people and physicians in stress-inoculation and conflict management.  

Rochel Tombosky, GIFT’s founder and executive director, partnered with Rosenberg and INPAX to provide low-cost sessions for teachers in the 15217 ZIP code.

“These are teachers in our community, and they should have knowledge how to protect themselves and their children,” said Tombosky.

While the classes were offered to all schools within the area, Beth Shalom, Carriage House, Community Day School, Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, St. Edmund’s Academy and Yeshiva Schools took advantage of the program, said Tombosky.  

Those at Monday’s first session considered the training beneficial.

I gained “empowerment,” said Avi Baran Munro, CDS’ head of school. “I don’t walk around with a sense that I am physically able to resist an attack. I have New York situational awareness, but I don’t have a sense that I could resist or hurt someone. I feel empowered to take steps if I’m in a physical encounter.”

Munro said that she is so committed to the idea that she is bringing Rosenberg and INPAX back for a whole-school training in May.

“We can’t rely on help coming, we have to rely on ourselves,” said Munro.

Rabbi Oren Levy of Hillel Academy took a break from simulating the defense of an oncoming attack to explain why he attended Monday’s workshop.

“Kevin Brown, head of security at Hillel Academy, recommended me,” said Levy.

Gaining empowerment on an individual level was the goal of Monday’s session, said Tombosky. “GIFT tries to impact in a useful way, doing something that will make an impact in a useful way.”

“When people say they no longer feel helpless, that’s the critical thing for me,” maintained Rosenberg.

Four additional sessions with Rosenberg and INPAX are being offered. For information, contact GIFT at or 412-401-5914.

Adam Reinherz can be reached at

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