Archives for June 2007


Well, it happened! Last night at about 11:55 Israel time, my baby daughter gave birth to a baby daughter. I was really happy that she and her husband allowed me to be with them at this most wonderful moment.

On the way to the hospital I had a flashback of having traveled the same route with her a little over 15 months ago- on her way to the hair and makeup lady who got her ready for her wedding. It was a moment that I remember as the beginning of a new chapter of her life. And yesterday, as we traveled the same road on our way to the hospital (with an interim stop to pick up her husband), I realized that once again we were setting off on a life changing experience. As the tears filled her eyes and mine, I looked at her and told her how I love the way she is able to feel her feelings.

And a few minutes later she had a very strong contraction and she felt the baby moving and once again she had tears in her eyes as she said, “baby, very soon we are going to meet.”

The labor and delivery were hard, but she came through it beautifully and the lovely little girl looks just perfect whether nestled in her mother’s, her father’s, or her savta’s arms.

Being Productive

On these hot days, it’s sometimes hard to be productive. But it appears that nonetheless, our young daughter is on her way to giving birth to her first child. She is still at home timing contractions, but they have been going on for many hours now and are getting stronger. We hope to be off to the hospital in a matter of hours…

Post 60s Marriage

It’s a little sad that the sixties still have a hold on us. In the sixties, we learned that the most important person in our lives was ourself and “if it feels good, do it.”

It seemed sensible to some people at the time. It seemed particularly sensible to college students who were discovering themselves. It seemed sensible to people who liked having a good time and didn’t want to take on responsibilities.

But it was bad. What it did was legitimize our becoming egocentric. It made it OK to say “me first.”

Which might work… when it comes to achieving in certain fields or when pushing oneself to excellence, but it doesn’t work in human relations and surely not when one is a husband or wife.

Because the secret of a good marriage is putting your spouse first—saying and doing things that will make him or her happy, listening even when you are bored or tired, doing things in the house even when you are falling off your feet, being kind and respectful, taking walks together even when you have no desire or energy and continuing to smile and be pleasant even when you wouldn’t have chosen the shared activity.

Not fair? Of course not. When I talk to couples about the tasks in marriage, I tell them that each of them has to give 100%. Marriage is not a 50/50 arrangement. It is simply too complex to be left to each one hoping the other will pick up the slack. Each member needs to do it all—to give and give and give and give and not to imagine ever receiving.

“What’s in it for me?” you ask. A spouse who feels important and loved will be a real partner,and together both of you working very hard can create a bond the provides warmth and support and love for the rest of your life.

Pizza in the Park (or, it’s the Liberty Bell, but it isn’t Philadelphia)

Still suffering from the after effects of a rather vigorous trip to China and Tibet (I still have a Tibetan cold), yesterday we ventured to Jerusalem. The occasion was very special. We were going to meet a cousin who had found me on the internet.

When I was young and my mother’s parents would have family dinners, in addition to my aunts and uncles and cousins, there was another couple and their son who usually were there. The man was my grandfather’s nephew, my mother’s cousin, but he was almost the same age as my grandfather since my grandfather had been the baby in his family and this son of his older brother had been born not long after my grandfather.

I wasn’t that fond of the man. He smoked big smelly cigars and talked with a rasp in his voice, but I did like his wife who was little and round and always smiling and pleasant. I also liked their son who had red hair and played the saxophone (although my sister and I both remembered that it was an accordion) and who seemed smart and confident and kind. It was an odd relationship since he was just enough older than I was to not be a peer. On the other hand, he was like a cousin to me and I would look forward to seeing him. At some point that I don’t remember, he faded from my life. It was after my grandmother passed away and despite two or three attempts, the family activities ended. I know that my mother maintained some contact with them, but I don’t remember his wedding (although I do remember meeting his beautiful bride at some point). And then I got married and moved away from Philadelphia and from time to time would hear a couple of words about the family from one of my uncles.

And then, a couple of years ago, the son of this cousin contacted me. And now, he and his wife and their three children are visiting Israel. In Hebrew we say “Seeba l’m’seeba!” — a reason for celebration! So last night we got all of the Michelsons, Inbars, Ariks, and Goodmans we could round up and went to Liberty Bell Garden in Jerusalem where the temperature was forecast to be brutally hot, but in fact, where it was delightful. Our cousins were to meet us there. I told them that we would be wearing silly Chinese straw hats so that we wouldn’t be hard to identify. And then, there they were!!!! We were pretty excited. As my children begin to introduce themselves and their children, I realized there was no chance they would remember who was who, so I gave them an outline of a family tree I had printed up to use as a reference.

So that no one would have to work hard, we ordered pizzas to be delivered to the garden. It was a bit hilarious when two motorcycles zoomed in and the drivers began unloading a seemingly endless number of boxes of pizzas. We were able to find a place to sit with table space enough for all of us. Everyone seemed to enjoy the pizza and the setting couldn’t have been more perfect. The park was filled with happy little voices and beautiful little faces of all of the little cousins.

After a while, our son-in-law Yaakov took his juggling equipment and began juggling. All of us always enjoy watching him perform. He’s amazing! Our cousins seemed to love it too!

Sometimes there are moments in your life when you would like to take a picture to hold them close. Last night was one of them. Our cousins are truly delightful people and it was such a privilege to have most of the family gathered and to spend such pleasant time with everyone.

And to our cousin’s dad, my big cousin with the saxophone… I wish you had been here too. Come to Israel! I promise you pizza in the park!


For some people, it’s beautiful music. For some, it is flowers and soft lighting. For some it is mountain views. For others, it is a walk at water’s edge. For me, it is people talking, people interacting.

“It” is beauty. And for me, the people who are talking are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. When I hear them talking softly, gently to each other, I think there is nothing more beautiful. When I hear people telephoning their spouse, parent, child and speaking in sweet, loving terms, I feel happy. When I see them whispering to each other, holding each other’s hands, embracing and smiling at each other, I am filled with awe.

When I was young, I used to think that people were programmed to be kind to their close relatives. Unfortunately, that often is not true. In my practice I have seen people treat their family members unkindly. They shout at them, call them names, try to gain the upper hand. They work to control them, to disable them, and they destroy their self-respect.

It is so easy to be kind. It is so easy to show love and caring. But after all of the years of working with people who are unkind to each other, when I see it being done right, I can’t help but think of it as beauty.


Someone got to my blog by searching for therapies that involve therapists spanking their clients. It’s hard to believe that we have come to the point where someone would even ask the question. There are a lot of people out there who call themselves therapists. They have no training except what they “learned from life” or “came to on [their] own.” They use all sorts of tricks to “help” people. Some pray, others offer themselves as sexual surrogates, some communicate with the dead.

For me, it is particularly sad when I realize that the people who frequent these unlicensed, uneducated therapists are people who are the most desperate for help. They will look for answers anywhere and accept all sorts of claims.

If all these charlatans did was to waste people’s time and money, even that would not be so tragic, but what they do is to destroy people’s trust. They can traumatize them to the point that they are unable to be helped in the future. They can do an enormous amount of harm precisely because the clients are naïve and trusting. Once a victim of these people, the clients are not likely to seek help again.

So the answer is NO. There is no recognized therapy where the therapist spanks his/her clients. In fact, there is no recognized therapy in which a therapist has any intimate contact or negative interactions with his/her client. If you are seeking help, go to someone who has legitimate credentials. You are literally putting your life in his/her hands!

Listen to me!!!

I don’t think you have been listening. Recently I have heard too many very sad stories about families from the family therapists I am supervising. Or maybe I said it in a way that was not clear to you. So please, please, listen to me this time….

If you are a married person trying to create a successful family, this is something you must understand. THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON in your life is your spouse! THE MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP in your life is with your spouse. THE SECURITY OF YOUR FAMILY resides in the quality of your relationship with your spouse.

Let’s look at healthy people: They are people who know who they are because they have grown up in a loving, caring, considerate home where their mother and father have demonstrated the ability to value each other, discuss things, compromise, and most of all, RESPECT each other.

Take away the respect, consideration, caring and love between the parents and you get children who do not know boundaries, do not understand how to value others, do not understand what relationships are all about.

There are mothers who believe that they are all their children need. THEY ARE WRONG!!! The relationship between mother and father is the foundation of family life. The foundation cannot rest on pillars erected on only one side. The entire building will collapse. Children build their future relationships on those they have seen in the past, particularly the relationship between their parents which becomes the model for what they will do when they marry. Parents OWE their children the opportunity to experience a warm, loving, caring, and respectful relationship. No amount of spoiling and indulgence on the part of one parent will make up for that lack.

A long time ago I read somewhere that the best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother. I couldn’t agree more. I would only add that the best gift a mother can give her children is to love their father.

Home from China once again…

It was upon our return to Beijing at the end of this most recent trip that I realized that Beijing felt a lot like home. Our extremely adorable and highly competent contact in Beijing, Doudou, makes our stay there pleasant and enjoyable. Dodo is now pregnant and as beautiful as she always was, now she is also radiant. I wish I could be there to share in her happiness when she gives birth.

But the good news is that I did get home in time to be here when our youngest daughter gives birth. Their baby is due in just a couple of weeks and I am certain that I am even more excited about this than she is!

Coming home was wonderful! We are overwhelmed with the kindness and devotion of those who really put themselves out for us, especially our daughters and sons-in-law who have helped us in so many ways. Imagine coming home to a house where the mail is neatly stacked, the bed is made, the plants have been watered… Seeing our granddaughters, Abigail and Nomi was such a thrill. What amazing little girls they are. It’s good to be home.

Hello from Lhasa

A little bit more about our Shai Bar Ilan tour….

Our trip has taken us to Yunnan Province– to the cities of Kunming, MiLe (where we stayed at a most magnificent resort spa, each building of which is surrounded by water), YuanYang (where we saw the rice terraces and visited a village of Hani people), JianShui (where we visited the Zhu Family Residence and the famous Confucian Temple), Dali (where we walked through the beautiful old town), Lijiang (where we visited the famous Mu Residence, the park surrounding the Black Dragon Pool, and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Tiger Leaping Gorge), Weixi, Deqin (where we rode on mules up to see the glacier adjacent to Mount MeiLi), Shangri-La (where we took a jeep tour of the nearby village and entered one of the villagers’ homes in the Valley haNafa and on Saturday evening went to the main square to watch the folk dancing). There was so much more that defies description. Imagine a city that has one major road running through it. Imagine that if you leave the city in one direction, you have a 1.5 hour ride along the sides of mountains on a winding two lane road to the nearest place (in this case the approach to Mei-Le Mountain) and if you leave the city in the other direction, it is an 8 hour ride along similar winding roads with hairpin turns on the sides of mountains to the nearest sign of civilization. Imagine the most magnificent scenery that you could possibly see and understand that for the entire 8 hours, we didn’t want to keep our eyes open because of the hairpin turns on the sides of the mountain, but at the same time, didn’t want to miss one second of the scenery. We met, during the trip Chinese people who resided in the cities and in the small towns we stopped at. We learned about the cultures of several Chinese ethnic minorities. We saw their colorful dress, heard their beautiful music, and watched them dance together.

After traveling through beautiful Yunnan Province, we left by plane for Lhasa, Tibet, which is a very interesting and beautiful city. We have visited many sites that are holy to Buddhists and have learned about Buddhist customs and beliefs. We have seen the pilgrims walking through the streets, three steps at a time and then prostrating themselves only to rise and walk three more steps and prostrate themselves again. Some have traveled this way for as long as a year by foot to come to their holy places. We have visited the magnificent Potala Palace set on a hill in the center of the city. The city resides in a flat valley surrounded on all sides with mountains. The scenery here is magnificent. When we arrived, the mountains surrounding the city were snow-capped, but after the two days of warm sunny weather that we were privileged to experience, all of the snow is melted.

We still have two more days before we return home, but there aren’t enough words to describe the experience. We learned, we climbed, we met wonderful people, we sang, we spent pleasant hours together and we have made memories that will last a lifetime.

Hello from Lijiang

I am in Lijiang China collecting more memories and pictures (of course). It’s a place that has to be seen! We’re having lots of wonderful adventures.

I have temporarily disabled my comments because I am getting hundreds of spam comments every day. Hopefully, I’ll solve that problem when I get back. Meanwhile, if you want to write to me, you can reach me at my gmail address which is the same user name as this blog. I will try to check in every three or four days.