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Jewish Thought and Psychoanalysis at BZBI

June 2, 2016

We all know that psychotherapists and psychoanalysts tend to be Jewish in proportions far in excess of our percentage of the population. What is the reason for this? Is there a “Jewish way of thinking” that lends itself to being interested in how people’s inner lives function? Is helping individuals grow into greater maturity and resourcefulness an expression of Tikkun Olam? Is the psychological study of the mind a “Jewish Science?”

These and other questions occurred to me while sitting in shul one Yom Kippur. I thought how useful and engaging it might be to start a lecture series dedicated to bringing to the surface these observations. This led to our first lecture in 2014 entitled Freud, Moses and the Holocaust  delivered by Professor Eli Zaretsky from the New School in New York. His lecture was well attended, videotaped and included in the then new website The website also included recommended readings suggested by individuals from around the globe. The website has been visited by interested people from around the world.

We apparently had hit upon an idea that was of interest to many. We had a second lecture in 2015 entitled Forgiveness in Judaism and Psychoanalysis given by Professor Stephan Frosh from the University of London. The video of this lecture is also included on the website.

In May 2016 we had Professor Sander Gilman from Emory University present The Jewish Body Image and Psychoanalysis. Click here to watch the lecture. We have also scheduled Professor and Psychoanalyst Marsh Hewitt from the University of Toronto for the 2017 lecture titled Unconscious Communication, Psychoanalysis and the Religious Experience.

This effort to study the interface between Jewish Thought and the inner workings of the mind has struck a responsive note both in BZBI members and interested individuals around the country and the world.

I welcome your thoughts, questions and engagement with this fascinating topic.

I hope you join us on April 30, 2017 for Professor Hewitt’s lecture as well as the dinner that follows.

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