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Cherie Brown in Jerusalem

Recently twenty-five Jerusalem (Israel) Co-Counselors gathered for an evening with Cherie Brown.1 We were invited to “face the unfaceable,” to feel and discharge “impossible” things—things that stop us. We were reminded that all of our feelings of disappointment and despair are from the past. Difficult things do happen in the present, but our intense feelings in response come from past distress.

We discharged on some common Jewish patterns (some of which are more specific to Ashkenazi Jews2):

• Isolation and being alone: As clients we often struggle to notice our counselors and to connect with them.

• “I need to leave now”: Our people have a history of persecution and being forced to leave places. We internalized needing to be on guard. “Is this the time I need to be ready to leave?”

• Being busy all the time: It can be hard to stop or slow down. We may feel like if we run fast enough, we might be able to go back and save the Jews from the Holocaust.

• Denial, concealment, and lying: Hard things happened that can feel impossible to face. We may deny that they happened, conceal the facts, or lie about them. This was a common pattern in some of our families. A Jewish client of Freud3 told him that she had experienced incest. In the beginning he believed her and responded accordingly. However, he faced strong pressure to deny it, because “there is no such thing in Jewish families.” In the end he recanted and invented the theory of the Oedipal complex, making incest explainable by a fantasy.

• Swinging between hope and despair: “Hope” can sometimes be a rigid response to despair. The contradiction to the distress can be to face and discharge the feelings of hopelessness.

• Riding into battle in every situation: Sometimes we cannot change things. It helps to face when this is true and then stop looking for more ways to be in battle.

We have a diverse RC Area that includes olim4 and native Israelis, Ashkenzim and Mizrahim,5 people of mixed heritage, several generations of Holocaust survivors, people of various political perspectives, and people representing a large variety of Jewish practice. We were asked to define, in a mini-session, what kind of a Jew we were (in relation to Jewish practice) and then to think of a different kind of Jewish practice we might adopt and notice what we would have to discharge to be that kind of a Jew.

Space was created to feel deeply. The work modeled Jewish unity.

Naomi Raz

Jerusalem, Israel

Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for leaders of Jews


1 Cherie Brown is the International Liberation Reference Person for Jews.
2 Ashkenzi Jews are Jews of Central and Eastern European descent, who generally identify as white.
3 Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), a Jewish Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis
4 Olim means immigrants to Israel, in Hebrew.
5 Mizrahim are descendants of Jews from the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, and the Caucasus; they often identify as people of color.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00