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Inclusive Therapy: The Jewish Community
Essential Insights Into Being a Therapist for The Jewish Community
Learn more about providing inclusive therapy and mental health support to the Jewish community.
Yakov Danishefsky, LCSW, CSAT talks with Cory Miller, CEO about the unique needs of Jewish community members in therapy and counseling. He will also cover stigma within the religious Jewish community regarding mental health services and whether or not there is a lack of culturally compatible evidence-based treatment for Jewish people.
- How antisemitism affects Jewish people in a mental health context
- The role faith plays in privacy and confidentiality
- What a client’s need for a deeper cultural or spiritual connection means for you as a therapist
More about Yakov Danishefsky, LCSW, CSAT:
Yakov is caring, compassionate, and personable. He is also direct and willing to engage in difficult conversations. This, along with extensive trainings and top-tier supervision, has enabled Yakov to develop a thriving private practice in the Chicago area. Yakov founded Mind Body Therapy where he specializes in treating trauma, sex-addiction, and relationship struggles. Yakov is also an ordained rabbi with a masters degree in Jewish philosophy and a sought after speaker on topics relating to spirituality, philosophy, and psychology. Yakov lives in Chicago with his wife and four children.
Cory Miller, Yakov Danishefsky
All Counselors — Inclusive Therapy: The Jewish Community
Cory Miller: [00:00:00] Hey everybody welcome back to AllCounselors.com and our inclusive therapist series. And I have met a new friend today, and we’re going to be talking about as referenced to the inclusive. Inclusive therapist series serving and supporting the Jewish community. And I’ve got Yakoff Danishefski. How did I do
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:00:24] pretty good. Thanks for having me.
Cory Miller: [00:00:25] Okay. Yes. Thank you for being here. Now I will probably continue to butcher your bio, but you are a LCSW and a C-SAT. Based in Chicago, you’ve got a practice called mind-body therapy, but about your bio, would you tell us a little bit about yourself and you’re a LCSW C-SAT so you do a lot of work with sexual addiction, I believe. And but would you tell us a little about yourself and your practice?
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:00:55] Yeah, sure. So I, as you said, a LCSW C-SAT. So, I work with general kind of garden variety type issues, life adjustment, type things some anxiety, some depression but the areas that I really focus on what I would say, I’ve done some specialty trainings in and a lot of reading and supervision and more of what my experience is in is working with trauma and sex addiction in particular, and couples counseling. So kind of those three areas is what I really focus on. A lot of the trauma is kind of the capital ‘T’ trauma, but actually I would say more so is more attachment based trauma, more lowercase, ‘T’ trauma, thematic type trauma.
And that, that’s a lot of what I do in addition to the sex addiction work. And obviously those two things often go hand in hand. When I started out working I was, I would say I was working with a more general population as the few years have gone by I think just because of needs within my kind of personal community within the Jewish Orthodox community. The way things have evolved. I still work with people outside of the Jewish community. But over the years I’ve become more and more engaged specifically with that population. I would say primarily Jewish Orthodox men and couples have become, I would say the bulk of my caseload.
Yeah. And so I started my own private practice just a few months ago. I’ve worked in in a couple of other group practices prior to that. Actually how we got introduced and Steve is one of the first places I worked.
Cory Miller: [00:02:22] He’s good people.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:02:23] Yes, he is. He’s great.
Cory Miller: [00:02:25] Steve and Lee are amazing.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:02:26] They’re the best. So, I started this practice and yeah, it’s been great so far.
Cory Miller: [00:02:32] So what led you to oh, well, here’s another thing I saw in your bio too, is you’re an ordained rabbi.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:02:39] I am. And that was actually my initial career path. I was hoping to become a synagogue rabbi and life takes its interesting turns. And at the time I was very upset that I was discovering that, that wasn’t going to be a great choice for my family lifestyle and got involved in some rabbi type things. And. Just started getting steered the other way. And then I actually took a different path. I was looking to go for a PhD in Jewish mysticism, Jewish philosophy, and then got rejected from where I was planning on going.
And then, so I took another turn and landed on the LCSW and then accidentally landed on an internship in a practice that specialized in sex addiction, not even really realizing that’s what it was. I had never heard of sex addiction. It wasn’t intentional. And I just kind of fell in love with that work. And from there got introduced to do a lot of trauma work and EMDR and somatic experiencing kind of more body focused therapy. None of that was planned at any stage along the way. So I’m luckily irresponsible, I guess, in some way.
Cory Miller: [00:03:38] I think it’s a lot of you clinicians. I’m not a clinician, as you probably know, but talk about serendipity and I go, this is no, this sounds serendipitous for you to be here and ministering serving, supporting a group of people that you understand and are likely my guess is underserved too.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:03:59] Yeah. Yeah.
Cory Miller: [00:04:00] Which is the topic for today. But I love seeing the crooked path is the way I look at it for myself. Cause I go back and I go, I don’t know how I ended up here, but I’m glad I did.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:04:10] Exactly. Yeah.
Cory Miller: [00:04:12] Well, congratulations on your going out on your own. And that’s a fun journey too. And that’s what we try to do here at All Counselors is serve and support clinicians like you doing the good work in the world. But that’s for another topic I want to get straight into… we’ve talked about we have a different webinars talking about underserved, underrepresented people, groups in our society and culture. And I’m really curious to get your input and feedback on the Jewish population that you serve.
And. There, you know what Steve did, and by the way, Steve Lackey, he is part of our advisory board at AllCounselors.com has really helped us map out and go, listen, we need to start paying attention to groups that are very underserved and in our culture. And so he’s really helped us laid out and have conversations like this with you.
But. One thing he’s told me. And I just want to ask the general question is, you’ve done therapy with not just Jewish people, but broader, and one thing he helped bring to light, particularly for African-Americans is the drastic difference in how it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing therapy isn’t but I’m curious your initial thoughts on serving and supporting, as a therapist the Jewish people and some of those nuances and differences that, that you’ve seen and that would help our audience that may help serve Jewish people, but not as directly as you might.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:05:39] Yeah. Sure. And I so appreciate that this is a webinar on this and that you’re reaching out to me in particular, but just more broadly speaking, I really appreciate the value in doing this. I would say also in terms of that perspective that Steve shared, for me I always find it really fascinating. How there’s always this pervasive human condition. That is broader and maybe deeper than any culture, race, religion, ethnicity, or anything like that. There’s just humanity.
And across, in my experience, there are that fundamental dynamic of what it means to be a human being that’s alive in this world. To be a finite being in this world. And all the psychological and existential pieces that come along with that, that go across cultures.
But then at the same time, There are so many differences and nuances and unique situations and unique experiences that enter into that humanity for different people. And so that kind of either paradox or balance, or however you want to look at it is always really interesting. And, I love that kind of thing because it keeps you in a learning state. And so it makes it, it makes the work curious and interesting and an ongoing kind of thing.
Cory Miller: [00:06:51] But by the way, I should have said I’m a student. Yeah. I’m asking questions, but today I’m a student, because I think from this whole conversation, particularly talking with Steve and Lisa, incredible humans, but bringing things to my awareness that I go, I have my own work to do in all of this. And there may be things I asked for something I gladly invite your correction to or guidance. But I selfishly when we put the series together, go, I want to learn. I need to learn just knowing those two amazing people have helped me shed a different light and see from a different perspective than my own.
I’m based in Oklahoma. I grew up here probably, in the buckle of the Bible belt, so I have a lot to learn. So all that to say, yes, I’m a student today.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:07:35] Well that makes two of us. So we’ll go both directions on that. So, and so that’s just kind of a preface to share and then more specifically getting into the Jewish community.
So, I want to kind of give two pieces to this by way of introduction. First off is that I am by no means a sociologist or a researcher or anything, an expert to kind of give you information on any of this. I’m really just sharing anecdotal experience and my perspective. And I hope it has some worth to it and some value, but I’m really, I can’t speak from an academic perspective and I can’t even speak from a quote unquote, the Jewish experience. I’m just sharing my personal experience as a Jewish person and as a therapist serving the Jewish community. So that’s piece number one piece.
Number two, also kind of by introduction is. The Jewish community is by no means monolithic at all. So there is a wide variety of what it means to be in the Jewish community, jewish populace is a wide spectrum of what that could mean. There are non-affiliated or non identifying individuals who are Jewish, but may not identify as such or may identify as such, but are not necessarily engaged with Jewish tradition or with Jewish community or spirituality, religion.
There are people who are engaged and there is a whole variety of denominations. There’s denomination referred to as renewal there’s reconstructionist, there’s reform, there’s conservative, there’s Open Orthodox, modern Orthodox, plain Orthodox, centrist Orthodox. There’s ultra Orthodox. There is what’s called the Hasidic. And within each of those, there’s another, huge variety of strands within. There’s a multitude of subgroups within the sub groups, within the subgroups. And any group that I just left out was not by intention.
And I meant no harm just listing off the group. So, there’s a huge and what we talk about in this context some of it will apply to all of those groups, but most of it will probably actually be very different for different groups. And so what I’ll just say is that what I’m going to be speaking about here in this context is my experience of specifically within the Orthodox community. A. Because that’s more my experience and B. Because I think that’s where, not exclusively so by any means, but I think that’s where more of the cultural differences will come up in terms of how that population in that community meet and intersect with the therapy world.
I think outside of that group, there still are unique aspects to Jewish culture and Jewish experience and all that. But I think the there’ll be less of a stark maybe difference from Some of the, from other, from a broader population. So speaking specifically about the Orthodox community in this context I guess those are just my points of introduction of where I can speak from.
Cory Miller: [00:10:23] I very much appreciate that. And that’s helped too, that there is so much nuance when you were listing off the different things. I was trying to do a comparable one of, in Oklahoma here. It’s I was trying to do denominations here too. And I think there’s something extremely significant, is that again, we’re saying we’re all human, but one-size-doesn’t-fit-all. And then even when we break down to, smaller people, groups that we’re talking about, that there’s still, it seems to me they’re still nuanced to say, how do you frame that? How do you frame the question of like, you know what I mean, breakdown to say. To be culturally sensitive and appropriate as a clinician, in that context.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:11:07] Yeah, you will. I don’t know the answer. And I think it speaks to actually a lot of what’s happening in the world at large today, which is how do you create sensitivity to minority groups? And at the same time that brings up, I think a lot of hot button, a lot of contemporary challenges that were, that we’re facing. Just give an example. I was actually recently at a training in EFT training and there were kind of two organizers of it. And one organizer opened up on the first day and asked everyone to, on the zoom, by their name, put their preferred pronoun. And then the other organizers said well actually, the interesting time we live in, what we want to ask is that whoever wants to, should please do that.
And then for the people who don’t want to, you don’t need to because some people would be, maybe upset that they were asked that they were told they had to do that. And so it’s like the sensitivity in one direction for some people will be an insensitivity in another direction.
And then, and so, that’s just, it’s a very, it’s a very challenging, confusing time of trying to everyone, trying to figure that out. I think.
Cory Miller: [00:12:10] That’s why I love this series because we want to ask questions and be that student . That’s something Steve tells me all the time is be curious, stay curious certainly. Well, okay. So from your experience if we talk about Orthodox what would be some of the nuances that you might think of for someone on the other side, trying to serve and support an Orthodox Jew in therapeutics. Are there things that we should maybe be, we therapists should be aware of in those conversations? And I don’t even know where to lead you on that question, other than to say what pops out. Yeah, immediately that we could help be a little bit more culturally sensitive.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:12:54] Yeah. I think there’s a number of things. And this is certainly not going to be exhaustive, but the different things that come up for me. One is that there is a unique intergenerational trauma that exists for, I would say this part of it actually exists for Jewish people across the spectrum. But definitely within the Orthodox circle as well. There’s intergenerational trauma. The Holocaust wasn’t that long ago. Many people’s Grandparents were you know, were in the Holocaust, were in Nazi concentration camps.
Many of them had their entire families killed. I can even speak for myself. I didn’t even have grandparents in the Holocaust. But I, something, I noticed that myself since I was a teenager, so like, anytime I go somewhere, I scanned thinking about like, where would I be able to hide? Like, where would it be? Where would there be like the secret hiding place in the roof, if I needed to. There’s just this hereditary kind of trauma of that kind of a thing. So, and that can exist on a number of different levels.
So a different form of that concept, I think, is that for a lot of Jewish people living now, let’s say like my age and younger. So our grandparents did things and we’re living in a time where they were doing things that were kind of, almost like monumental. They were living in like a time period in history where people weren’t just living like simple lives. Like I live a pretty simple life. I live in a quiet neighborhood. I have a job that I like doing that I go to every day, in a quiet office. And my wife has a job and, and we have kids and we live a, pretty relatively speaking, it feels pretty action packed, but in terms of like historical significance, it’s a pretty quiet and simple life, as opposed to my grandparents. My grandparents lived during like tumultuous times and like we’re pioneers involved in, like historically changing events.
And so I look at them and it’s like, well, there’s nothing I can do that will like match that level of significance. And I don’t know that I want there to be anything, but at the same time, I feel kind of like the impossibility of being quote unquote, as successful as them. And I think that’s, I’m speaking to that from like a personal sense but I don’t think that I’m alone in that experience. I think there’s kind of, so that’s a different form of like an intergenerational trauma of like, I can never be good enough. So it’s not actually a trauma of fear of the bad thing, the anti-Semitism and the bad things that have happened. But there’s kind of a hereditary sense of like, I’ll never live up to the giants, that were just, 40 years ago. Because that’s just not what my life is like. And so can I still see myself as having, worth in that kind of a way? So that’s just one, I think interesting piece for the Jewish community is a unique and we’re certainly not the only community that has very significant intergenerational trauma, but there’s, I think a unique form of it for the Jewish community. That’s one piece.
Cory Miller: [00:15:38] Yeah, absolutely. Just mentioning the Holocaust mentioning Nazi Germany, that was not, it was before my time, your time, but our ancestors were, that was, if we weren’t affected by it directly. It was in, it was all of the talk and conversation of the world. And so that’s such a, and you mentioned a term that I only want to smile because I want this message out, but intergenerational trauma related to that going you having not directly connected, but because family and your faith and… connect to that, to look to escape routes, exit routes. And that’s one thing Steve’s helped me understand, or at least try to attempt to is 400 plus years of systemic oppression, slavery, and all kinds of things that African Americans in this country in particular, have had to deal with and go. And then at all counselors, part of it is the trauma.
I love that you’re a C-SAT. You’re talking about trauma at the forefront and it’s connection to coping mechanisms that are harmful to us and others. But just you highlighting that fact made me think about that in a different way. I’m glad we’re talking about intergenerational trauma in general, but then connecting it to particular groups that are highly affected by it.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:16:57] Yeah. And, I don’t think there’s anybody. I could be wrong, but I don’t think there’s any person who is any Jewish person who doesn’t have, within the past couple of generations, a direct family connection to genocide and massacre and life-threatening anti-Semitism I don’t have that directly to the Holocaust, but I have it to, many other, family members being massacred in Hebron and I have it too, in my parents remembering, that in 1967, the, all the Jewish people living in Israel literally thought the entire country was going to be killed. It’s going to be drowning in the sea is, there’s nobody that doesn’t, the Holocaust is the biggest one, but there’s nobody that doesn’t have a direct family connection to anti-Semitic massacre and genocide. Across the board.
And so I think different people have different levels of consciousness of that, but it’s certainly it’s certainly a piece for others.
Cory Miller: [00:17:50] Well, so, okay. You have decided to focus or a big part of your practice or is it, do you exclusively? I’m sorry, I missed that, but explain. Excuse me, if I can talk simply talk to or support the Jewish people or somehow you found that was a part of your mission and calling as a therapist, how did that all happen?
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:18:16] Yeah, no, I don’t. I’m not exclusively working with Jewish population, but I would say at this point predominantly I am and it just kind of shifted naturally over time. I didn’t start that way. I would say I started out, more in the general population and over time within my local community, I guess my name just kinda, I got around more it started to, and then that just snowballed into a large caseload of people within this community.
Cory Miller: [00:18:39] You get good referrals when you’re great therapist doing good work, for sure. Especially in any community. But do you see a lack of providers, therapists that are, how do I phrase this? Do you see a lack of therapists, available therapists to support and serve the Jewish people? Like for instance, we had just this week, indigenous peoples discussion around this.
And one is, I live in Oklahoma, like I said, so you got the five civilized tribes, you got heavy indigenous people here. In fact, I did some consulting for one of the Chickasaw nation. And so, how do you even approach. Yeah. Not understanding, do you see a lack of people like yourselves serving your community?
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:19:24] That’s a good question. I would say that there’s kind of two parts or components, I guess to that one. Are there therapists who themselves are Jewish or Orthodox that are serving the Orthodox community as therapists. And I think at least in Chicago, in the Chicago area there are not enough. I would say there is for sure not enough male Orthodox therapists, which is to my benefit, I get a lot of good business. But it’s also to my detriment because I could use some good collaboration and colleagues and referral sources.
So, that’s one version of it, but the other is, are there therapists who don’t have to be Jewish who are kind of culturally competent and able to do that work and that we can refer to. And I think it’s a tricky question, this’ll kind of go back to the first question you asked also about what are the nuanced needs of the Orthodox community. And I guess there’s two points I want to bring up here that I think are really core. And I think speak to both questions.
So the first is that I think one of the trickiest things of working with I guess I’ll say three things. One of the trickiest things of working with the Orthodox community is to be able to sift through the maladaptive behaviors that are dressed up in faith and piety. So to be able to see that, and this is not you being very spiritual and this is not in the name of your religious belief and system, and this is not from your rabbi.
This is OCD, or this is anxiety, or this is oh, CPD. Or this is some trauma. Maladaptive behavior from a trauma. And to be able to sift through that, it’s really complex even for somebody who knows the culture and knows the laws and the rituals and the faith or, some people having like a religious belief of like a very kind of linear way of thinking about reward and punishment.
And realizing that’s not your, you can quote me a source from the Talmud or something, but that’s not what’s really going on here. This is you looking for control over a situation you have no control over and you’ve created control by creating this intellectualized understanding of how, everything that happens to you is because you did something, et cetera.
So to sift through that, it’s very complex. That’s one of the biggest challenges even I would say for me. And so certainly for anybody who has less inside familiarity with what those rituals and sources and texts and beliefs are. And that’s where I would say that I think that anybody who really wants to be able to serve the Orthodox community, well, I think one of the most important things would be to have somebody who is versed in that knowledge, and also has a healthy, mental health perspective that you collaborate and consult with. So almost to have like a relationship with a rabbi or maybe, a therapist who is versed in this stuff.
But I think that would be almost, maybe I would say that like one of the most important things to be able to have. Both the skills and also the trust of the people coming to you and the community and the referral sources would be to have a relationship with somebody who can help you sift through that.
Because on the one hand, we want to be culturally respectful of people’s beliefs, but we also don’t want our country cultural sensitivity to be almost manipulated into endorsing behaviors that are actually mental health related issues.
Just to give like a parallel example of that, I just experienced this with somebody. So no offense by this, to anybody who is a very, devout dog lover and person. I just happen not to be, I just don’t connect to that. It’s I don’t have any, no, I just, I it’s just not who I am. So, but I had a client whose childhood dog was just put down and he was grieving really grieving. And it was hard for me because he also happens to have a histrionic nature of things, being very dramatic all the time and very his emotions will skyrocket from very small things. And I, because I have no experience with grieving and having a relationship with a dog, I had a very hard time knowing, well, is this really healthy grief? What are the limits to healthy grief? Are there limits, maybe there’s no limit? I don’t know. I want to be sensitive to that, but I also want to make sure this isn’t his maladaptive kind of histrionic side. And how do I, so I was thinking like, well, I have no, I don’t know how to sift through that.
I actually reached out to people to get some input on that. But I think that’s a kind of parallel to this. Like if you don’t know the dynamics of the religion, how do you know how to sift through which parts are authentically healthy faith and which parts are rooted in some sort of other issue?
Cory Miller: [00:24:04] So good. I didn’t even think of that, but being able to call a rabbi or any, that can apply in so many contexts, but I love the fact that you said the dog and I know there are non dog lover people out there, but I saw my meme or something on that at one point. But thank you for that example. That, that is excellent. I think you had a couple more thoughts on that, but I’d love to hear. I love to hear those, if you have more.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:24:31] Yeah. The other thing I would say is that this is a tricky and sensitive piece, but I think it’s an important one. The therapy world tends to be obviously not overgeneralizing to everybody, but tends to be more politically progressive in nature.
I think to a large degree, at least that’s my experience. The Orthodox Jewish world, also not by overgeneralizing or is this the case for everybody, but tends to be more, more politically conservative in nature. And I think that there actually, and I’ve actually experienced this firsthand at at conferences or trainings with other therapists.
I would say not as much anti-Semitism, but anti Orthodox. And I think there’s, there is there’s a lot of discomfort or fear or mistrust for people within the Orthodox community. To reach out to therapists to kind of look up any therapist that they find on psychology today or on, whatever it is.
Because of the climate we live in with political the political climate we live in and identity politics and the amount of shaming of other that goes on in, in both directions. And I actually think that. As, I spoke before about anti-Semitism in a kind of intergenerational trauma. And there still is, some of that kind of antisemitism that exists that the Jewish community experiences. But I think when it comes to the therapy context, if we’re talking about creating connections between the therapy world and the Jewish Orthodox world. I actually think the more relevant version of antisemitism is the feeling of the political divide or the anti Orthodox divide of some of those conservative values. And what that does for the community to be more hesitant in reaching out to, well, I don’t know if I will be able to say what I think, I don’t know if I can speak my values or to actually have a trusting and safe relationship with this person because what, if I’m judged for the views of the values that I hold or the way that I identify politically So, there’s obviously a lot of nuances in there and that’s a big, like I said, it’s a sensitive topic to unpack, but I think it’s, I think it’s a really big piece of the relationship between the Orthodox community and the therapy community.
Cory Miller: [00:26:43] So I want to go back and play it against. Not playing, but I am the student here. When you say anti-Semitism and then anti Orthodox what does that mean?
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:26:54] Yeah, so, I would say because a lot of the unfortunately a lot of the anti Orthodox even comes in from within the Jewish community itself, from those outside the Orthodox community. And a lot of it really, and that’s why I’m connecting the political piece and the Orthodox piece, because a lot of it is really related to politically related issues. Yeah.
Cory Miller: [00:27:17] Would I be accurate and characterizing from your experience potentially antisemitism. External Jewish from non-Jewish communities in, and then maybe the anti Orthodox is within Jewish.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:27:32] More, more so, yeah, I think that’s well said actually. Yeah. Yeah. That’s not exclusively so, but yes, I think that’s well said and in general, since you understand, yeah.
Cory Miller: [00:27:42] Okay. So there is part of our work here. and why I put my own time and money into this endeavor is to obliterate the stigma of mental health in general. And I just see it. And if I, it, from my experience, I see a lot of, and I’m gonna generalize again here, but a lot of men struggle with therapy. I’ve been in groups of high charged, entrepreneurs and they’ll say, well, I met with my counselor this week and kind of get the…. you know what I mean? And I’m wondering, I think we can all admit there’s still a stigma in any culture on the face of the earth, around mental health, as it relates to your experience with Jewish people, how does it, what are some of the nuances you’ve observed and seen? Related to the stigma about getting mental health treatment or seeing a therapist or counselor, regardless of who else is on the other side of that?
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:28:40] Yeah. I think within the Orthodox community, the big shift is the rabbis getting more on board with therapy and mental health awareness. I think that we are seeing again, I’m not a researcher, so I don’t know the statistics, but at least this is my impression, is that we’ve seen a big shift in, there’s still a ways to go, as you said, but there’s a big shift in the stigma and shifting in the sense of the stigma declining within the Orthodox community. The Jewish community and people reaching out for a lot more therapy. All the therapists who are Jewish and Orthodox and in the community that I that I work, we’re all full, we’re all busy. And we’re all predominantly seeing Orthodox individuals. So there are a lot of people who are seeking therapy. A lot of Orthodox people seeking therapy. There’s probably a lot more that needs to be and are, some of them not doing so because of stigma, but I think there’s a big shift in that direction.
And I think the biggest piece is that a lot more rabbis have kind of come on board with the importance of that. And I think that they, oftentimes are now referring people to therapists. So a lot of my referrals come from having built relationships with rabbis in the community and constituents, or, go to them, bringing up an issue and they’ll say, maybe there’s something to speak to a therapist about and, here’s someone to reach out to.
Cory Miller: [00:29:54] Well, so back to your huge takeaway, which is contact a rabbi in your area and start asking questions is the potential to go, this is a culturally sensitive therapist that has sought to understand our faith and our pain and so I’m gonna say it makes complete business sense. One, it’s the right thing to do. But second, is there’s an opportunity there to serve more people that are potentially underserved. That my experience comes from evangelical churches and I’ve got 30 hours of seminary training. And the hiccup in my experience was well, this dynamic between psychology and what is thought of as biblical truth. And this thing of like, what is a Christian counselor? And then I think that’s created a very unnecessary wall between the two. So I kinda try to, like, in a little bit of what you’re saying to, I think I get it on another…
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:30:51] There’s a lot of overlap there. I think to my knowledge of that side of things too, which is limited, but I think there’s a lot of overlap there. Yeah
Cory Miller: [00:30:58] But what I’ve loved about your message is there’s an opportunity to partner, so to speak or collaborate, or just pair some of the walls down by seeking out that faith representative, that faith leader in whatever community and saying, how can I better help? That’s really good. Okay. So we talked about stigma a little bit, that’s a human feature right now that we’re trying to all obliterate, regardless of faith, race. Do you see other, and you kind of burst on politics with, oh my gosh, there could be a whole series on this, about how to help people through politics or the political climate we’ve found ourselves in the last years.
What are the things that I’ve missed to ask that you think of? And we probably need we’re time. Don’t we?
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:31:41] No, I think you asked all the right questions, I guess. If we have a little more time, I would maybe add a couple of other answers to the question of, what are the nuances to know about? But I think that kind of is the, I think you asked the right questions.
Cory Miller: [00:31:54] Yeah, you have any more nuances. I’d love those. I want to make sure we get those too. And if those of you who are listening, have questions, please hit the chat or Q&A, and we’ll ask those today, so I want to make sure we have room too, but we have about 20 minutes. And so I’d love to hear any of the other nuances. I don’t want to, I just. Yeah, I want to shut up and listen.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:32:12] No, No. It’s great. It’s great. So, one other thing I would say is I kind of talked about intergenerational trauma, but then if we just stay more locally focused, forget intergenerational trauma, just straight on trauma. There is the same traumas that exist across the board for going back to that where we’re all humans. And so those types of things exist across the board, but I think there are also unique traumas to growing up. That are possibly there for growing up in the Orthodox community that might be, important to know about and understand. And I think there are different traumas for men and for women. For men there’s I think oftentimes within the more as you get more into the ultra of the ultra Orthodox community. So middle to ultra you will find that the system really kind of narrows in on Talmud study for men. And Talmud study, which is this highly intricate texts of Jewish law story. It’s an amazing, text and it’s fascinating, but it’s also incredibly difficult and intricate. And in many ways it has become the, be all and end all of an Orthodox male life.
And there are lots of people who are just not cut out for that. But they’re in the system that makes it all about that. And that’s a unique trauma that I think a lot of people experience. And then continue to experience trauma reenactment around because when you try and work with them on creating other spiritual pathways for meaning because they don’t wanna give up religion. They don’t want to give up spirituality. There’s a resistance to actually exploring other ways of living a Jewish, spiritual, and religious life because they’re still seeking that success and that’s kind of that trauma reenactment.
So there are other examples, but that’s just one again, because I’m working so primarily with Orthodox and males that’s one that I see a lot of. And I think it’s an important piece.
Cory Miller: [00:34:10] Yeah. Related specifically toward those who identify as male in the Orthodox and ultra orthodox Jewish faith.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:34:20] Yeah. Yeah. And then I think for women, there’s kind of a potential parallel around modesty and dress within the Orthodox and ultra Orthodox community. I can’t speak to that as much. I don’t have as much experience working with that. It doesn’t seem to me to be as pervasive as the trauma from the Talmud study. But that might not be true. It might be as pervasive or if not more. But I think that’s the other kind of unique aspect to possible traumas. And then of course there’s all the other good traumas out there. But those are just two unique versions.
And yeah the other piece that I would point out as being, I think a nuance is spiritual bypassing. Which is not unique to Judaism. But there’s a form of it that will definitely exist within Judaism. So people will, who will kind of believe, have a faith everything, everything that happens is for the best it’s all from God it’s what’s meant to be. And or just engaging in spiritual practice and they can sometimes be doing that as a way of spiritual bypassing.
So they’re not bringing their spirituality into their healing that is extremely powerful and healthy. And I love that. And I love when clients are open to doing that. That’s to me, I never forced that on anyone, but when they’re open to that, that’s one of the most powerful experiences I find. And so bringing spirituality into the therapeutic process and into the real newness of life and of struggle. That’s beautiful. But sometimes people take that spirituality, not as bringing it into the healing, but as a way of not needing to heal, because I’m just able to divert, I’m able to bypass all my problems by, well, I have faith and it’s all from God and it’s all meant to be. And I don’t need to really, look at I’m so engrossed in Talmud study or prayer or charity or community work or whatever it is that I don’t need to look at the fact that my marriage is failing or the fact that I’m struggling with this and this because I’m doing all these, spiritual practices or I have this level of faith.
And I think, again, that kind of goes back to we need to know the nuances of when is it bypassing and when is it part of a healthy spirituality.
Cory Miller: [00:36:19] I was going to ask what that is, but I think you unpack that just now about spiritual and definitely relevant and other faith systems that I’m aware of for sure. And that’s a good point, like you were saying, trying to unpack a little bit of the pull out. I’m paraphrase of rephrasing in my own words, pull out and separate the issues a little bit and go, okay here it is. But this one is okay. Are we overlooking critical things for instance said to your…
One thing we didn’t talk about. Or I didn’t expand on that you mentioned we talked about, we come back and forth to inter intergenerational trauma. But the I put down here, the good enough am I as successful? I think that might be the word but as successful as the previous generation was. And it feels I’m just trying to, from my own, and it’s going, there’s something there that might be a little tick above what I’ve seen in other people, but talk to me more about that, that the success, like, yeah, we’ve heard of this, the greatest generation, and I hear that too, but I get it. Like the people have been through horrific things, survive, resilient, and done amazing things with their lives, despite all of the horrific tragedy in their lives. Can you talk to me a little bit more about that and unpack that from your own experience?
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:37:37] Yeah. And I would say in addition to the intergenerational piece, again, just sticking with more of the here and now There’s the Orthodox community just has such high standards and expectations. Pretty much all the kids are going through a dual curriculum, so they’re taking Judaic and general studies. So they’re in school for a really long day and getting home with dual curriculum in school, which means double the homework. And so already for kids, there’s just such there’s a lot of high expectations. And then whether it’s in Talmud study or it’s career or it’s financial, to live a Orthodox lifestyle is very expensive. You typically are living in a specific community because it’s walking distance to a synagogue. And so the housing rates in those communities they jump up way high. Kosher food costs a lot of money.
Everyone is sending to a private school which costs a lot of money and people have a lot of kids. The expectation is to have a lot of children. And so, you need to have a career where you’re going to be making a lot of money. And you need to do that while also raising a large family while also Orthodox men are expected to pray in synagogue with a group three times a day. As well as continue their Talmud study and keep, all these holidays and rituals and practice and all this different stuff.
And then, and I’m by no means putting the women are pressurized. Tremendously in terms of expectations also. So there’s just super high expectations and I don’t mean to make it all sound bad. It’s that a lot of it’s beautiful and amazing. But there’s just, if we boil it down, there’s just really high expectations, really high pressure. And pressure to be something pressured to do something in one way or another. Whether it’s because you’re going to be the philanthropist or the charitable one to the private school or to the synagogue or to the communal organization and the nonprofit, whatever it is, or because you’re going to be the great tourist scholar or because you’re going to, have the family that everyone goes to for when they need help with something or… There’s expectation of a tremendous amount.
Life is incredibly busy and exhausting for your average Orthodox lifestyle. In a way that’s when lived in a healthy way, it’s an exhausting that’s meaningful. So it’s an exhausting that is passionate and inspired. And the exhaustion is actually like, yeah, I’m exhausted because I just lived an amazingly significant day.
But also can I just be, and can I not be pressured and do I not have to do something amazing? Can I just can I just accept myself. And can I believe that, yes God loved is proud of me doing all these things, but he also just loves me for me. And I’m created in God’s image and period, that’s it. And I’m unconditionally loved and endlessly loved and no matter what I’ve done, no matter what I don’t fit into in the system. And so these are, I think some of the really significant pieces that come up when we talk about standards is that unconditional self-acceptance and self-love. And how does that fit into the amount of pressure and expectation and standards that the community and that the faith kind of places within the within a person’s orbit.
Cory Miller: [00:40:31] I was just on a session with my counselor yesterday. And first thing she asks. She always comes back to self care. Yeah. And it’s the one I’m like, really? You have to ask me because no, I’m not eating. I’m not drinking water all day. I’m not exercising… those kinds of things. But in your experience too, how does that with all of these things that someone could be juggling. Like just thinking about that. I’ve got kids two, eight and six, and they’re not juggling simultaneous curriculum and things, but like, so where, how about self care?
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:41:00] Yeah, I would say in my opinion I think this is like maybe the biggest kind of pervasive issue is how do we balance the fact that there’s a real value and belief to these kind of expectations and standards of living in a very meaningful and inspired way and productive way. But at the same time, really living with self-acceptance and self-worth and how do we balance or live with the fact that God is, within the Jewish faith, God has given me all these rituals to do. But he also loves me, even if I don’t do them and he just loves me.
And how do we have that unconditional acceptance and unconditional love balanced with and they really are not contradictory, but people can think that they are. And I would say one of the most common pieces that I’m working through with people is that self-care and self-acceptance are when I bring those things up, like you just did they’re rejected. And they’re rejected in the name of religion. So, my Judaism doesn’t believe. Judaism wants me to work on myself and to grow and to become a better person and all that. And to do all these things and, people will even quote, like sources are rabbis in that, but really Judaism also believes that God loves you endlessly and unconditionally and that you have inherent worth. And that self care is important. And sources can always be taken out of context and manipulated and twisted into whatever we want to twist them into. We’ve been at texts from thousands of years ago can be twisted into anything. So, that, I think you, what you brought up, you really hit on one of the core. I think as a society, that’s not unique to the Jewish community, it’s just the way that it gets dressed up is Jewish community. But that is, that’s core to across the globe. That’s going on everywhere. That struggling to figure that paradox or that dialectic out is core to the human experience.
Cory Miller: [00:42:52] I can totally see that. So with the last couple of minutes we have well, first I want to say anything else that we have and talk that you’re like, I want to get this thing out. So I don’t waste any time and let you have that.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:43:06] Thank you. No, I think that the kind of points that I had come in hoping to be able to articulate hopefully I’ve done. And I think we hit on some of the big ones.
Cory Miller: [00:43:15] Yeah, absolutely. Well, with the last couple of minutes, I want to just talk about trust. As a, that is absolutely critical in the therapeutic container, I think is how a service. But, so how, if I’m a therapist and I’m seeing an Orthodox Jew, for instance, or in my office is there anything that you might suggest to help with trust in that situation. I think we’ve covered some sensitivity, but I want to just kind of broadly ask the question is, I know that’s critical to the therapy.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:43:49] I really, yeah. Again, I’m curious to know if other people would share this perspective. And people can fully feel that this shouldn’t be the case, but in my perspective, I think that what is the case, whether it should or shouldn’t be, I think the biggest barrier to trust is what’s going on politically. And the divide again, like I said before that the therapy world tends to be more politically progressive and the Orthodox world tends to be more politically conservative and the amount of shaming that goes on in both directions, I just think is the biggest barrier to trust. I think it’s, I think it’s huge. I don’t know how to address that. I don’t know what the answer is. But I think the answer is more tolerance, on both sides, but you know, that’s easy to say. But I think that really, there are some, like, specifics, you could talk about Orthodox men and women are not gonna… they typically won’t be shaking hands with someone from the opposite gender. Or pieces like that.
There’s some specific details, but I really think the biggest barrier is the political climate. I, yeah, I think, even just what’s going on right now in the middle east is there’s a lot, there’s a lot that is getting in the way of trust for, I think the Orthodox community with what is perceived to be a kind of anti Israel, anti Orthodox kind of, message that is that’s being heard. And sometimes some of that is the community kind of playing victim itself. And some of that is sometimes it is very real. It is very one sided or shaming. But whatever it is that I think is the biggest barrier to trust by far and away in terms of, if we’re talking about the relationship between the Orthodox community and the therapy community.
Cory Miller: [00:45:25] That’s a great nuance right there. I think I’m speaking as a non-clinician So it would seem to me we’d want to lower every barrier. And one of those is being open and understanding the people that you’re supporting are not going to share political. So, I don’t know any visit matchup on a present, even my lovely wife of 10 years. But I’ll try to keep this super minimum anyway, it is a unique climate and I know I was just talking with a colleague in my former I had a software company before this and she and her company are based in Israel and she goes, I don’t know if you’ve heard the news. And I was like, I feel like I’ve got my head in the ground and I haven’t. And now, but I understand there’s a lot going on and will continue to be in the country here and there. Yeah. Thank you for your time.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:46:11] Thank you. It’s been really nice.
Cory Miller: [00:46:14] Would you mind sharing how we, how others can learn about you and your work in your practice and elsewhere on social media, if you’re on and all that. We’d love to share that with our audience here.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:46:27] Yeah sure. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do that. My website is mindbodychicago.com. So my practice is called Mind Body Therapy. If anyone wants to, I would love to talk more and you can definitely email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I’m not so much on social media, but I do have I’ll throw out there that I do have a small YouTube channel called Life Torah. So the word life, and then the word Torah. Which is the Hebrew word for Bible. And I will say that it is specifically it’s content that is Jewish content with psychotherapeutic ideas weaved into it. And it’s made for a Jewish audience and for an Orthodox audience. So I don’t translate all the terms that I use in Hebrew and I take for granted knowledge of some of the concepts and references. So I will put that out there. It’s not made to be accessible to everybody. It’s made specifically for a particular niche audience.
But if anyone’s curious, just by way of like, kind of getting a flavor of some of the kind of, I dunno, orthodoxy and psychotherapy stuff, you might be, they’re just short videos. You could check it out for whatever that’s worth.
Cory Miller: [00:47:33] I’m trying to find the link real quick to put in the chat here. I put mindbodychicago.com in the chat, and we’ll have these in the show notes as well, but what is the channel name?
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:47:43] The channel. This is a Life Torah, one word, L I F E T O R A H.
Cory Miller: [00:47:49] That’s what I was doing wrong. Okay. I’ve got it.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:47:53] It might not even have enough views to pop up
Cory Miller: [00:47:57] No that’s great. No. Excellent. Excellent. I’m going to put this in the chat too, and we’ll have it in the show notes for later. Thank you so much for your time today and being so willing to share your experiences, both for therapists and someone in this community we’re trying to help others and ourselves to serve and support better.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:48:17] Thank you. I love this initiative. Really, really glad you guys are doing it. Thank you for letting me be a part of it.
Cory Miller: [00:48:21] I get to be a student. I get to do all this. Well, thank you, sir. You have a great week and thank you everybody for joining this again. Go check out. Yakov’s website at mindbodychicago.com and it will have links to his YouTube channel. Thank you, sir. Have a great day.
Yakov Danishefsky: [00:48:37] Thanks Cory.