Feeling Safe at a Jews and “Mental
Health” Liberation Workshop

Shalom Chaverim! (Hello, good friends!)

I had a wonderful experience at a Jews and “Mental Health” Liberation Workshop with Cherie Brown (the International Liberation Reference Person for Jews), Janet Foner (the International Liberation Reference Person for “Mental Health” Liberation), and about eighty others.

It was clear how much I, and all of us, benefit from the countless hours of counseling Cherie and Janet have done and how they have pushed themselves to keep thinking about us and convey to us their best thinking. I felt safe enough to show how terrified and angry I feel all the time. Normally I don’t dare look at it.

Janet reminded us to counsel on how members of our families have been hurt by the “mental health” system and what that has been like for both them and us as Jews. She said that “normal,” as defined by “mental health” oppression, is Gentile, among other things, so as Jews in a Gentile society we are essentially seen as “crazy” (not “normal”). Facing that shed light on the pressure I felt as a young person to look hopeful so that I could be a contradiction [to distress] for my family. Janet pointed out that because of the pressure to “look good” or “be normal,” many of us have had to bury a part of ourselves and what happened to us.

Cherie reminded us that our stories of “mental health” oppression are the story of the Jewish people. Unthinkable things have happened to our people and our families—things that are incredibly hard to face. We need to build the resource to face them, which we did at this workshop. In demonstrations brave clients faced distresses that were uncomfortable for all of us—distresses related to the Holocaust, to turning on [hurting] our own people, to wanting to die, to feeling disgusting.

Cherie encouraged us as clients to say, “I don’t care. I want to get these things out of my head, and I’ll face whatever I have to in order to do that.” As counselors we were encouraged to say, “I will reach for you where I can’t yet tell [perceive] that anyone has come for me.”

Part of “mental health” oppression for Jews is that society denies our experience of anti-Semitism. Many Jews are brave enough to stand up and call out [bring attention to] racism, but they don’t do the same for anti-Semitism. At the workshop we practiced, in short loud sessions, calling our counselor anti-Semitic. I found myself thinking about the family members I have lost to the “mental health” system and crying about how anti-Jewish oppression took them away—along with my best shot [chance] as a young person at having allies. (Before the workshop, I’d rarely felt safe enough to look at the heartbreak of what had happened to my family.)

I reveled in just being with Jews. In a number of situations, sexism and male domination got in my way of getting close with the women, but I was able to keep reaching, discharging, and thinking, in large part because of what I had learned from Diane Balser. The work in RC on men and women has been key to bringing Jews together as a liberation movement.

Since being home, it’s been hard to have sessions like the ones I had at the workshop. The safety there felt unique. But going forward, I hope to build a similar kind of safety for myself and other Jews in my Region—so that we can show the constantly restimulated terror from anti-Jewish and “mental health” oppression.



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

Last modified: 2019-05-13 15:12:23+00