Spring, March 2021
WELCOME and Shalom: Together with our fellow sojourners on the planet, we continue to seek to manage health, social bonds and economic sustainability during these times of Covid-19. The vaccine rollout holds out hope for a return to more open and connected ways of being in the world. The most vulnerable among us have much to gain from a return to "normal" patterns of interaction. At this point in time, it is the children who have the most to gain from the return to the frameworks of school and peer interactions. Let us hope that they find opportunities to thrive in the coming months.
In the fall of 2020 I wrote: The Corona pandemic has affected citizens across the world. Here in Israel, the stay at home order has been modified to allow for many activities but the resurgence of the virus has upended the gains made during the initial lockdown. Social distance and mask wearing are mandated in many places but compliance is variable. The economic fallout continues to be a major concern for a tremendous number of families and it is too early to say how this extended crisis will play out both in Israel and around the world. It is very clear, however, that vulnerable populations are most negatively affected. While continuing with clinical practice, research and teaching, my colleagues and I have been involved with the "Out of the Depths" NGO organization and website. The site is a portal to assist persons affected by loss and bereavement in these troubled times.
These things take our breath away: As a citizen of the US and as a citizen of the world, it is terribly troubling to watch the situation in the United States. The inequities and unfairness of all too many parts of the social contract are in great need of attention. The disproportionate negative health outcomes (death and illness) for persons of color in the US should serve as a catalyst for change among all persons of good will. It is also very hard not to compare our local universal health coverage in Israel with the broken health delivery care system in America. Alas, change will require a nationwide bipartisan effort and a willingness to examine facts rather than ideology and myths about "socialized medicine and death panels." How likely? Not very. How necessary? Super necessary. We are both participants and spectators in the writing of the history of this time period. Let's try to do a good job of the former and leave the latter for later. The approach of the elections in November will probably increase the more divisive aspects of the national discourse. Hopefully, the outcomes of the elections will facilitate change and cooperation among persons of good will who have the responsibility of fulfilling their duties to the citizens who entrusted them with their offices.
Wishing all good health, good spirits and good actions.
Simon Shimshon Rubin
I continue now with a brief orientation to my website and homepage. I am a university professor of clinical psychology as well as an active clinician treating clients. The material on this website is designed to meet the information needs of both professionals and laypersons. In addition to my ongoing work as a practicing clinical psychologist and therapist, my professional work and publications also reflect my interests in loss and bereavement, ethics in the professions, and the practice of psychotherapy and supervision. Educational materials, course syllabi, unpublished student material, and various other materials are accessible on the website. The links are to both international as well as Israeli sites.The website here, and the developing website of the International Center for the Study of Loss, Bereavement and Human Resilience, contain information for professionals on loss, bereavement, and intervention.
For those interested, my newest publication on the subject of grief is: The Two-Track Model of Dementia Grief (TTM-DG): The theoretical and clinical significance of the continuing bond in sickness and in death can be found online in Death Studies. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2019.1688014
The 2019-20 academic year has begun and my third year on the faculty of the Max Stern Jezreel Valley Academic College reflects the greater familiarity with colleagues and students in the "Emek" (valley). Teaching the undergraduate and graduate students at the college has been challenging and rewarding. I continue to serve as Founder and Director of the International Center for the Study of Loss, Bereavement and Human Resilience and Chairman of the "Zramim" Postgraduate Program in Psychotherapy at the University of Haifa.The title of Professor Emeritus has meant fewer meetings, but beyond that, not much has changed for me or for my students and colleagues at Haifa. My research, academic and clinical work continue. I am Associate Editor for Death Studies since January, 2018. That has been both a great honor, as well as (Spiderman’s Uncle Ben notwithstanding) something that comes with great responsibility .Time remains a precious commodity, and it is in very short supply during the academic year.
Looking back, our team was very pleased with the 3rd International Conference on Loss Bereavement and Human Resilience that was held in Eilat, Israel in January of 2019. My role as co-chair of the conference brought with it the opportunity to interact with with colleagues and friends from Israel and around the world. The 7th annual conference on Remembrance Days and Other Days: Who, What, When and Why do we Remembers was held on January 9th 2018 at the University of Haifa’s Observatory floor. The focus was on Losses due to Death and Divorce and the program can be viewed online. The 8th annual conference talks were interwoven with the Eilat International Conference and we are looking forward to organizing a program for 2019-20.
In 2017-18, I was the guest for the Caring for Loss organization in Taipei, Taiwan and gave a 3 hour introduction and a 7 hour workshop to our colleagues there. I was very impressed with the warmth and industriousness of the people, the beauty of the country, and the knowledge of our colleagues. In November, I joined colleagues to lecture at a conference in honor of our friend and colleague Dr. Ruthmaijke Smeding on the occasion of her retiring from aspects of her active work. The location of the conference was in Freising, outside of Munich, Germany and the Conference on Spirituality and Bereavement was most edifying. The Interpersonal Relationship Conference in Fort Collins, Colorado and the Bioethics conference in Jerusalem, Israel were also conferences where I presented as well as learned from my younger and older colleagues.
The spring semester and summer break of the 2016-17 academic year were particularly busy. After the school year, I gave a plenary at the International Bereavement Conference in Lisbon and interacted with colleagues and friends from around the world. Dr. Ruth Malkinson and I gave a full day pre-conference workshop in the area of working with the continuing bonds to the deceased which was well received. I was fortunate to be able to take a summer sabbatical (during their winter) in Argentina and found the country and the people most congenial. In addition to lecturing and writing, I was able to begin to appreciate aspects of the culture, lifestyle and complex and sometimes tragic history of this amazing country.
In the Spring of 2017, I traveled to Portland, Oregon to speak at the Association for Death Education and Counseling and honored the memory of Professor Phyllis Silverman z”l and her contributions in the area of Continuing Bonds. Phyllis was an international consultant for the International Center for the Study of Loss, Bereavement and Human Resilience. The Center hosted the 6th annual Hebrew conference day Remembrance Days and Other Days: Why, What, When and Why do We Remember?: Kenes 22 November Preliminary Announcement in November of 2016. The conference also served as the formal book launch for the Hebrew Language 2016 volume: The Many Faces of Loss and Bereavement: Theory and Therapy authored by myself, Dr. Ruth Malkinson and Prof. Eliezer Witztum.
Towards the end of May, the book The Many Faces of Loss and Bereavement in Israel: Theory and Therapy formally entered the Hebrew language literature on bereavement. Together with my friends and colleagues Ruth Malkinson and Eliezer Witztum, we set out to put together a comprehensive book that added much new material relevant for Israel to our 2012 volume Working with the Bereaved: Multiple Lenses on Loss and Mourning. We will follow its reception over time.
In April of 2016, I was honored to give the Ira Nerken Address at the Association for Death Education and Counseling annual conference. My talk titled The Two-Track Model of Bereavement: A Contemporary Look at Theory, Research and Practice was a welcome challenge to reach a new generation of thanatolgists.
The January 12-14, 2016 International and National Conference on Loss, Bereavement and Human Resilience in Israel and the World was held in Eilat and we were pleased to host over 400 local and foreign attendees. Details available on the website give information on the conference as well as the pre-conference workshop with Prof. Robert Neimeyer (Jan. 11-12). Plenary lectures and award lectures in English were given by Professors and Drs. Amy Chow, Shmuel Mooli Lahad, Ruth Malkinson, Robert Neimeyer, Colin M. Parkes, Simon Shimshon Rubin, & Eliezer Witztum, A special award was given to Professor Phyllis Silverman who was represented by Dr. Gila Silverman who delivered the acceptance speech. Participants had the chance to listen and interact with these leaders in the field as well as ample opportunities to participate in mini-workshops, paper sessions, and group discussions. The mix of professionals from Israel and abroad, as well as the attendance by persons who had experienced bereavement made for a emotionally rewarding experience.
In 2010, the University of Haifa approved the establishment of an International Center for the Study of Loss, Bereavement and Human Resilience with myself as director of the center. I am an active clinician treating clients. The material on this website is designed to meet the information needs of both professionals and laypersons. The main issues addressed focus on loss and bereavement, ethics in the professions, and psychotherapy and supervision. Educational materials, course syllabi, unpublished student material, and various other materials are accessible as well. The links are to both international as well as Israeli sites.The website here, and the developing website of the International Center for the Study of Loss, Bereavement and Human Resilience, contain information for professionals on loss, bereavement, and intervention.
Near and far, we know that resilience characterizes most people. The seasons provide us with inspiration. Winter in many climates can be harsh, but it brings with it the promise of spring and renewal as well. Life and the living find ways to adapt to difficult times and situations. Thus we are reminded of the resilience all around us and within ourselves. Adding the word resilience to the title of the center touches on our reality no less than the fact that all of us will experience the loss of people important to us over the course of our lifetime.
Respect for human life is a value that wisely reminds us of the uniqueness of each person and how important it is for each of us to help translate this value into reality. We can only truly grieve, honor and remember persons whose uniqueness was appreciated by us.
With best wishes,
Simon Shimshon Rubin, Ph.D. – Professor of Clinical Psychology, Director of the International Center for the Study of Loss, Bereavement and Human Resilience, Chairman, Postgraduate Program in Psychotherapy