Upcoming Conference: “A Beautiful Mind: Jewish Approaches to Mental Health”

26 10 2010

I’m sorry for the very long silence, and also for the late notice about this upcoming event.

It is taking place at Yeshiva University in New York City this coming Sunday, October 31.

I am very, very glad that this conference is taking place and that people are speaking about, among other things, depression, suicide, OCD, and eating disorders. With the exception of those issues, I think it’s not quite the issues that I would have focused on in such a conference, but they also know their audience better than I do. (The other things are also really important, but I tend to not think of them as mental health issues in quite the same way.)

Their blurb reads:

On Sunday, October 31, 2010, Yeshiva University’s Student Medical Ethics Society (MES) will be hosting its fifth annual conference, entitled A Beautiful Mind: Jewish Approaches to Mental Health. The conference will provide participants with a broad foundation for the medical background needed to understand mental health, as well as the advanced medical research and practices used today to prevent and manage mental health challenges. Topics covered include suicide, depression, eating disorders, addictions, substance abuse, and more. Participants will also be introduced to an overview of the fundamental ethical dilemmas surrounding mental health, as well as how the system of Halacha (Jewish law) approaches these complex issues.

In addition to gaining broad knowledge in medical, ethical, and Halachik issues of mental health, participants will be able to choose from a series of specialized tracks, each geared towards in-depth analysis of the most pressing issues in the field. These tracks include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Bullying and Harassing, Living with A Mentally Ill Family Member, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Sexual Abuse. The individual sessions will be guided by leading rabbis, physicians, and mental health professionals all of whom are experts with ample experience in their fields of mental health, ethics, and Halacha. In addition, there will be a special track geared to Rabbis, in order that they will be able to ask their individual questions to the leaders in Halacha. Finally, exclusively for students, Dr. Pelcovitz and Rav Willig will lead a discussion pertaining to mental health as it applies to students.

The conference will be a wonderful opportunity to explore these complex and pressing issues, and to interact with leading rabbis, physicians, and lawyers in the area of medical ethics. Pre-registration is required and will be open to all those who have an interest in broadening their knowledge and understanding of ethics in mental health. Students, teachers, rabbis, mental health professionals, physicians, and laymen are welcome.

Please join us for a unique and fascinating conference exploring Mental Issues from a Halachik, Ethical and Scientific perspective.

I hope that good, productive action comes out of it!


Jerusalem Evening on Jewish Psychology–“Bereavement and Loss: Between Separation and Continuity”

18 06 2009

First of all, an apology for not having written since April. I have not given up on this project. The truth is, my financial situation changed somewhat back in March, so I’ve been spending the time that I used to spend on this applying for jobs and to programs for next year. I have more substantial posts lurking in the recesses of my brain, though, and hope to find time to write them up before too much time passes. Thank you for staying with me.

In the meantime, another note about an upcoming event related to this blog. See below!



There is what looks like a fascinating evening on “Jewish psychology” at the Begin Center, cosponsored by Beit Morasha of Jerusalem and The Rotenberg Center for Jewish Psychology. I am especially interested in the film portion of the evening, and in the panelists speaking about loss and bereavement from an educational perspective and from a midrashic perspective.

I am not 100% sure about this whole “Jewish psychology” thing. I know that it is a field created by Professor Mordechai Rotenberg. A little bit is written about it here. I recently bought two books about Jewish psychology, both published in Israel and written in Hebrew, and have been working my way through one of them (very slowly). “Jewish psychology,” as a field, might be ridiculous or, even worse, dangerous. I am deeply curious, though. I know that it is based on ideas from midrash, kabbalah, and hassidut, and I am generally of the belief that classic Jewish texts have psychological and emotional truths to teach us (and we, them). I am wary, though, of attempts to reject Western psychological ideas, since I think that those ideas have done me, and many others, a lot of good. (I am less wary of attempts to correct, or modify, those ideas.) So, in sum: curious and suspicious.

In any case, this evening event takes place next Wednesday, June 24, from 7-10 pm. The general topic of the evening is “Bereavement and Loss: Between Separation and Continuity.” It costs 30 shekels and will be entirely in Hebrew.

Please pass this information along to anyone else you know who might be interested. Thanks!

The translation of the e-mail announcement (above) is:

Bereavement and Loss: Between Separation and Continuity

invite the public to
the annual evening of study of Jewish psychology
in memory of Boaz Rotenberg.
It will take place on Wednesday
2 Tammuz 5769
24 June 2009
at 7 pm

The translation of the poster, below, reads:

Annual evening of study of Jewish psychology
in memory of Boaz Rotenberg

Bereavement and Loss: Between Separation and Continuity
2 Tammuz, 5769
24 June 2009

7 pm
Opening Remarks
Mr. Meir Fechler (sp?), Executive Director of the Center for Jewish Psychology
Introduction to the Topic of bereavement and loss in Jewish psychology
Mrs. Michal Fechler (sp?), clinical psychologist

7:20 pm
Part A
8:00 pm
Part B
Panel: Coping with Actual Bereavement [I am not 100% sure that רב-שיח means “panel”–please let me know what it means if I’m wrong]
Moderator: Prof. Mordechai Rotenberg
  • Clinical Perspective
    Dr. Baruch Kahana, Lecturer in School for Social Work and in Clinical Psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    Mrs. Rut Gombo (sp?), clinical psychologist
  • Educational Perspective
    Rabbi Ronen Ben-David, Principal of Neveh Chana Boarding School
  • Midrashic Perspective
    Dr. Ido Hevroni, researcher in Rabbinic literature
9:45 pm
Concluding Remarks

Entry Fee:
30 NIS
Parking next to Independence Bell Park (“Gan HaPa’amon”) or opposite the Har Zion Hotel
(between Independence Bell Park and the Cinemateque)