Not long ago, I showed up for a Friday night Shabbat service at Beit T’Shuvah in Culver City. Over the years, I have counseled a number of congregants whose adult children were saved by this addiction recovery program, and I wanted to experience Beit T’Shuvah’s spiritual Shabbat service, which I had heard so much about.
This is not just a Jewish phenomenon, though a few thousand years of expecting to be scapegoated, persecuted, exiled or killed certainly contributes to the melancholic gene Jews are known for carrying, the optimism of a Ben-Gurion or Sandy Koufax notwithstanding.
The husband from hell. The uncle from hell. The comedian from hell. Richard Lewis is fully aware he has problems. And by the end of his set, his stand-up audiences know he has problems.
Sderot is far, by Israeli standards, from the country's more prosperous center. But in the last six years, it has found itself unwittingly on one of the front lines of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its location, about two miles from the Gaza border, has made Sderot an easy target for terrorists' Qassam rockets. Before a surprise and partial truce went into effect about a week ago, fighting had escalated, especially in recent months, between the Israeli army and Palestinian terrorist groups.
This is how naive I am: I never understood why Primo Levi killed himself. I'd long admired and devoured the works of the Italian chemist who wrote of his experiences surviving the Holocaust.
A lot of people my age feel pressure from their families to get married, but I think my not being married is the only thing keeping my grandmother alive. Bebe often tells me she just wants to live long enough to see my wedding. I'll say "I do" and then she'll immediately keel over. It's a lot to bear.
Bebe likes to pretend she's open-minded and doesn't care if I date non-Jewish women. I should point out that I am technically Jewish -- both my parents were born Jews. I never went to Hebrew school but we did celebrate Chanukah -- until the year we couldn't find the menorah. Then that was that: Bring on Christmas!
"I personally detest theater as therapy," Julianne Grossman said. "I don't want to see someone 'catharsis-izing' all over me in an attempt to heal themselves."
For elderly people, mild disappointments and grief can set off depression. According to estimates from the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 750,000 older Californians suffer from depression each year. Put in another way, 50 percent of all seniors will endure a depression at some point in their later years.
Depression can affect the entire family -- but the family can also help intervene.
When my therapist suggested that I consider taking antidepressants, I panicked.
In her latest book, "The Thief of Happiness: The Story of an Extraordinary Psychotherapy," Bonnie Friedman sorts through the complex, confusing, ambivalent relationship between therapist and patient by way of her own psychotherapy, revealing the seductive "thief" to be Friedman's trusted doctor, a fact that the reader realizes immediately, but that takes the author years to understand.
Oscar night is almost upon us, and there is considerable talk (and pride) about three of the chief contenders -- Halle Berry, Will Smith and Denzel Washington -- all of whom are black. But don't be fooled: Hollywood and the film industry is still primarily a Jewish story, no matter who deserves and carts off the evening's prizes.
"My Stroke of Luck" by Kirk Douglas (William Morrow, $22.95)
Five years ago, Kirk Douglas, the legendary tough guy of 84 movies, decided to end his life.
The High Holy Days are a time for contemplation, a time to give thanks, to repent for the wrongs of the past year and seek forgiveness from those you may have hurt and especially from God.
Rabbi Leonard I. Beerman's art-filled home on a quiet, verdant Brentwood street is a world away from the gritty industrial world in which he lived as a child during the Depression and again as a young man on the cusp of World War II. But it's his experiences in that world of assembly-line workers that led him to the rabbinate and to his 52 years in Los Angeles.
At first glance, the author Susanna Kaysen and the actress Winona Ryder have little in common. Kaysen, who is in her 50s and the author of several well-received volumes, grew up upper-middle-class and Jewish in Cambridge, MA and is the daughter of an economics professor. And Ryder, the movie star, spent many of her formative years in a Northern California commune, the daughter of a Jewish hippie intellectual who often chatted around the kitchen table with poet Allen Ginsberg and LSD guru Timothy Leary.
I'm not mental. Really. I'm not manic-depressive,hypomanic, borderline schizophrenic or psychotic. I don't hear voicesor imagine I'm being followed by Marie Osmond. I don't have tics or acompulsive need to wash my hands or avoid cracks in thesidewalk.
Like a lot of people, I could just use someone totalk to. That's all. I figure it can't hurt.
After all, my family is like a Who's Who of mentalillness.