He says he’s never seen “Welcome Back Kotter,” but Doni Joszef is a 2013 version of Gabe Kotter, the beloved high school teacher from the 1970s sitcom who returned to his old high school stomping grounds.
It features kids — including popular ones — discussing the issue, including how to develop the character to refrain from bullying and to stand up for others.
“In the Jewish world, it’s not so much that kids are shoving other kids into lockers,” Joszef explained. “It’s more, if kids are making jokes at each others’ expense, or eye movements that demean others. Freud said, ‘The founder of civilization was the first person to throw an insult, not a stone.’ Unfortunately though, it’s the same impulse.”
Joszef’s high tech approach to helping people deal with emotional issues takes many forms. In 2009, he developed “Steps Away,” a smartphone app for locating 12-step meetings that now boasts close to 300,000 users.
A married father of two, Joszef writes regularly and with striking candor on his blog, Deficit of Attention, about issues ranging from the rise of social media and its effect on spiritual life (“Who needs God when we have Google?”) to the joys — and stresses — of being a young parent (“Young, married and silently stressed”).
He recently began studying in an online doctoral program in media psychology at Fielding University. “It’s a new era in psychology and it’s cool to be at the forefront,” he said.
Music man: A Phish fan, Joszef plays bass in his own band, One Trek. The band has performed live in such Manhattan venues as The Living Room and Sullivan Hall. He also uses music as a way to relate to the teens in his charge. “For teenagers, music is a way of getting their stuff out.”
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