Letters to the Editor, May 26
Ready for those conversations
It is encouraging to read the opinion piece by Rabbi Aaron Bisno in last week’s Chronicle. We echo his sentiments of needing to engage in “courageous conversations.” Each of our insti- tutions has goals we hope to achieve. We have a mission and a purpose. In many areas those missions and goals overlap between institutions. Why do we all insist on trying to achieve that mission on our own?
What is the harm in having these conversations? What do we lose by recognizing that we can have partners among the various institutions in our community? The answer to these questions is, “very little.”
Conversely, the potential benefits are great. We have the opportunity to bring together a critical mass for participation. In just a week, we will be meeting again at the JCC for the community Tikkun Leyl Shavuot. Yes, we all could hold our own tikkun (in fact many do continue studying through the night), but we believe that even if we pooled the numbers of those who attended individual congregation’s tikkunim we would not amass the group that gathers at the JCC.
Coming together helps us present a higher quality product. In addition it cuts our costs and reduces duplication of efforts.
Our Board of Trustees has encouraged our staff and lay leaders to seek out collaborative opportunities. It is our hope that we find others extending their hands as well. Join in the conversation!
Rabbi Michael Werbow Stefi Kirschner, President Congregation Beth Shalom
It’s about time!
First of all, a hearty “Yashar Koach!” to Rabbi Bisno on starting our community’s own courageous conversation. I know it’s scary, but it’s about time to start working together. It’s about time we stop reinventing the wheel. It’s about time we start pooling our resources. All of us. All movements. All synagogues. All organizations. Even if you feel that we can’t pray together, then we certainly can celebrate, learn and educate our children together. Welcome to post-denominational Judaism. The lines are blurring. The middle is getting squeezed. Shul-hopping and shopping have arrived.
And the time for our very own courageous conversation has arrived. We should start now before we have to. We should choose to talk now about working together before it is no longer our choice. Let’s go into this as equal partners, all working toward the same goal: Our Jewish community’s survival.
Rabbi Alex Greenbaum Beth El Congregation of the South Hills President of the Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinic Association
Not a substitute
In your May 12th article about Esther Rachel Russell’s talk on “The Healing Power of Laughter,” I was dismayed to read Ms. Russell’s quote of, “You can spend years in the therapist’s office but ultimately talking and talking doesn’t heal.” While I have nothing against laughter (in fact, I engage in it quite a bit), it is not a substitute for psychotherapy with a psychologist or other licensed mental health provider.
As a psychologist, I have the privilege of witnessing people successfully overcome difficult and complex issues, including depression, anxiety, addictions, grief and trauma. Scientific studies validate the effectiveness of psychotherapy in treating these conditions. Although sometimes referred to as “talk therapy,” therapy is completely different than just talking.
Through a relationship with a skilled and compassionate psycholo- gist, a person may learn new ways of coping, understand their emotions, resolve conflicts, accomplish goals and lead a more authentic life. It takes courage to go to therapy and work on your personal challenges.
I appreciate the opportunity to provide information about the practice of psychology. To learn more, check out the Pennsylvania Psychological Association and American Psychological Association’s websites.
Lisa A. Osachy, Psy.D. Pittsburgh