Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Yechezkel Kluger Centennial, September 5th, 2011

Jungian analyst Dr. Yechezkel Kluger was born in Yonkers, New York, September 5th 1911. He died in Haifa, December 21st 1995, after a full life of varied experiences and focused aim in study and teaching. He was known as a born student and teacher, and a genuine devotee of ideals.
Yechezkel Kluger served as President of the Los Angeles Jung Institute, 1967-1969, and later as President of the Israel Association for Analytical Psychology. Up to the time of his death he kept up a steady practice as analyst, supervisor, teacher of candidates in training, and writing.

Yechezkel Kluger came from an orthodox Hassidic background. His mother and father came to America in the late 1800s from Dobczyce, Poland but his grandfather, Rabbi Reuven Kluger, remained, heading a small group of devotees. Yechezkel never met his grandfather but it is told that Reb Reuven was a scholar, a poet and a mystic. Yechezkel himself was, as well, both a scholar and a poet. The mystic in him found embodiment in his wives, particularly as it was articulated in thought by his second wife, Rivkah Schärf. The spirit of Hassidism was a strong element in Yechezkel Kluger’s make-up and for those who knew him intimately, it could be heard not only in the formal prayers, but seen clearly in his dancing, singing zmirot (songs and melodies) on Shabbat and in his playing the clarinet. He may have left orthodoxy and violin behind, but the spirit remained.

Interestingly enough, the fire of Zionism was lit by a gentile, the famous Socialist Norman Thomas. After attending a large rally in Madison Square Garden in New York, with his fiancée Tovah, the two were moved by hearing Thomas speak so fervently of the need for Jews to settle in Israel, stating that they (the Jews) had so many doctors and lawyers that it was now a time to "return" to being farmers in their own land. Soon thereafter Yechezkel left his medical studies (much to the dismay of his parents), and shortly after marrying Tovah in a large orthodox ceremony (he was 21 and she 19), they both joined the Hechalutz organization in New York. They spent two years on Hachshara (training) for life on the farm, in Hightstown New Jersey and in Wisconsin. Eventually they were granted certificates by the British to enter the mandated territory of Palestine.
Thus, he settled with his first wife on kibbutz Na’an, in 1935. After a mere but intense two years of farming and nightly vigils during the meura’ot, the Arab revolt beginning in 1936 – and after the birth of their daughter Nomi – the Klugers were cajoled by family in New York into paying a visit with the promise of a return ticket ... which promise was not kept. With no hope of returning, he, his wife and daughter spent four years in New York. Yechezkel returned to his studies, narrowing his field to optometry. In 1940 the Klugers moved to Los Angeles where he opened a practice in optometry and launched the Los Angeles branch of the League for Labor Palestine. There he was active as president of Zionist organizations.

He had already become interested in Jung's school of thought when in 1942 he met Jungian analyst James Kirsch, who had come to him to get his eyes examined. They began a friendship based on their common interest in Judaism and Israel. It was not long before they switched roles, as James became his analyst and teacher in his and Hilde Kirsch’s burgeoning Jung group of Los Angeles, later to become the Los Angeles Institute. When in analytic sessions Kluger would speak of his yearning to return to Israel, Kirsch would tell him “your Israel is an internal Israel.” This collided with his inner calling, which was corroborated by dreams of the importance of the land itself, the Land of Israel. Kluger was, in his words, driven to “dig into the earth” (cf. interview, Spring 60, below), which he was able to realize years later by returning to live in Israel. With his second wife, Rivkah Schärf Kluger, he settled in Haifa in 1969 … some thirty long years after his departure.

Kluger had been strongly encouraged by James and Hilde Kirsch to study with Jung in the newly established Jung Institute in Zurich. He had met Dr. Rivkah Schärf when she spoke in Los Angeles at the invitation of the Kirsches, but it was in her capacity as his teacher in Zürich that he came to admire her deeply. Their mutual passion for Judaism, Zionism and Jung's psychology eventually bonded them into a love, culminating in a marriage that was to endure for the remainder of their lives. Their marriage took place in a large ceremony attended by Jung and officiated by Zwi Werblowsky in Zurich, 1954.

During his years of study at the Jung Institute, he was in analysis with C. A. Meier and Emma Jung, with a couple of sessions with C. G. Jung when called for. He was among the first graduates of the C. G. Jung Institute with, among others, James Hillman. Along with a few others, they were charter members of AGAP, which charter Kluger was instrumental in writing. Due to his playful "demand" made to Jung he was the only one to have Jung's signature ('Honorary President, C. G. Jung') on his diploma. At the Institute, the students were fortunate to study under scholars in related fields to Jung's psychology, such as the Indologist Heinrich Zimmer, the Greek scholar Karl Kerényi, the Zen teacher Daisetsu Suzuki, and Hans Jonas, the teacher of Gnosticism, as well as other luminaries.
After returning to Los Angeles, he attained a doctorate in academic psychology from Claremont College where his thesis was a statistical study showing the occurrence and validity of archetypal dreams.

Upon moving to Haifa in 1969, he and Rivkah continued their practices as analysts and teachers. Together with Zürich-trained Jungian analyst Gustav Dreifuss, he worked on the further development of the Israel Association of Analytical Psychology, which had been founded by Erich Neumann (the Israel Association was a charter member from the first Jungian congress in 1958), and the training of analysts.

Although Yechezkel Kluger had an orthodox Jewish upbringing, he came to feel his lack of a deep education in Judaic thought and history as tragically missing. He quoted Jung as having told his wife, Rivkah, that it is for the Jewish analysts to study intricately and interpret Judaism, their own heritage, as he, Jung, had been doing in his Christian background. The goal is for each to bring to light, into consciousness, the ground from which they had sprung. (Cf. "Remembering Jung; A Conversation about C.G. Jung and his Work with Rivkah Kluger & Yechezkel Kluger," Suzanne and George Wagner, DVD, Jung Institute-Film Project).

In light of this, and inspired by Rivkah Schärf's classes in the “Old Testament,” Yechezkel wrote his diploma thesis on the Book of Ruth. This was later published as 'Ruth – A Contribution to the Study of the Feminine Principle in the Old Testament' (Spring, 1957). He completed an updated version shortly before his death, published posthumously by Daimon Press in 1999 as A Psychological Interpretation of Ruth; In the Light of Mythology, Legend and Kabbalah. Included is the companion essay, Standing In The Sandals of Naomi, written by his daughter Nomi Kluger-Nash, who had worked on editing his manuscript with him shortly before he died.

His theme was the return of the feminine principle as a necessary rounding out, and ultimately the fulfillment of what had become the one-sidedly patriarchal standpoint in the land of Judah. It is a myth of redemption. This is shown in an analogy with agricultural seasonal myths. The famine in the earth serves as the symbolic image of the cast out feminine, which feminine material reality, as lover and mother, had to return to achieve an equal balance with the masculine, purely spiritual, invisible God. The goal and result of this process is seen as the redemption of the feminine which forms an equally balanced totality conjoining spirit and matter.

After the death of his wife, Kluger devoted himself to editing her seminars and manuscripts on the Gilgamesh Epic, which she had been unable to complete due to her illness. The Archetypal Significance of Gilgamesh was published in 1991 by Daimon, and he saw to the publication of her updated book, Psyche and Bible, which was republished as Psyche in Scripture by Inner City Books in 1995.

An interview with Yechezkel Kluger and Gustav Dreifuss, by Erel Shalit, appeared in Spring 60, 1996. James Hillman, to whom we send our prayers wishing him well, asked Erel Shalit to publish this recorded interview. Hillman's grandfather had translated the book of Ruth from Hebrew for the Jewish Publication Society. He, James, had been in analysis with Rivkah Schärf Kluger, and came to Yechezkel "to learn how to say Kiddush (sanctification) on Friday nights." These apparently disparate incidents may be viewed as an image of how life can weave her intricate web into a pattern. We leave the meaning of the pattern up to you, the readers, in honor of the truth-seeking Yechezkel Kluger.

Nomi Kluger-Nash and Erel Shalit

Now available: The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tents of Hope

During the last several weeks, in summer’s heat, Israel has seen unprecedented social protest, mainly by the country’s hard-working, mainstream young people.
Israel is not unfamiliar with protests and demonstrations – whether the center-left in support of peace, or the ultra-Orthodox protesting, for instance, the opening of shopping malls on the Sabbath or against building on sites of ancient bones, and workers’ strikes.
However, for a very long time, the hard-working middle-class has carried the burden, working ever harder to cope with rising costs of living, higher rents, receiving less and less for the heavy taxes paid.
This summer has also witnessed an extended physicians’ strike – the excellent doctors are underpaid and overworked and ask for more positions.

The wave of uprisings utilizing social networks such as Facebook and Twitter may have begun after the 2009 presidential elections in Iran, though brutally crushed by the regime, which quickly utilized the internet and the social networks to gather intelligence and send distorted messages.
The Arab Spring continues to unfold, but in the Fall of leaves it remains unclear what dress it will eventually wear. Yet, a process has started, which, it seems, will in the long run inevitably lead to greater openness and democracy, even in Syria – and Iran.

The uprisings have taken different shape in different places, such as Spain, Greece and Britain. In Israel, the young have set up tent-cities around the country, reminiscent of the early days when hundreds of thousands of refugees were hastily absorbed in ma’abarot, transition camps. The gatherings of hundreds of thousands, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in the Galilee in the north and the desert in the south, have been the most peaceful of manifestations, guided by a spirit of determination and creativity, renewal and solidarity.

Israel has always been a country asking much of its citizens. When it seemed that all, or nearly all carried the burden, and there was little for everyone, and distribution was somewhat equal and those in need would get what was required, even if the bread was simple, people could take it.

Besides global phenomena of change and instability, fragmentation as well as bringing people together, in new and ever-changing ways, Israel deals with its own particular problems of privatization and occupation.

While PM Netanyahu is particularly identified with the Chicago School and a neoclassical policy of economics, extensive privatization has been the trademark of Israeli governments for the last twenty years.
Israel was a strongly collectivized society, with the kibbutz as a most prominent phenomenon. Ideologically, but no less pragmatically, the collective was necessary in the early days. The country was sparsely populated, and Mother Earth was harsh. It was impossible to revive her alone. The Homeland (and today, the main issue is – Home) was built on solidarity, carrying the yoke together. However, as the country developed, a natural need to separate from the very close proximity between individual and collective was a healthy and inevitable process, beginning in the 1970s.
However, its soul-less and inconsiderate manifestation as financial privatization of public resources led to what President Shime’on Peres (who is 88 today!) said, allegorically, years ago – a country of six thousand millionaires and six million beggars.
The present calls for social justice will have a tremendous effect in this enantiodromic process (whereby phenomena swing into their opposites), in which the extreme favorization of a few turns into greater equality for the many.

The second process is ideological and political. Enormous sums of money, raised by tax money, have been invested in the housing of settlers. It can be expected that 80% of the settlements will be dismantled. These settlements constitute an obstruction to peace (which in no way exempts the Palestinians from their responsibility – dismantling all Gaza settlements and some in northern Samaria, and bringing the settlers back into Israel, did not lead to neighborly relations, but rather to thousands of rockets fired into Israeli civilian areas).
The majority of Israel’s population, favoring the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian State alongside Israel, opposing the settlement- and occupation-policies, has carried the financial and other burdens of these undertakings (while, at the same time, an increasing amount of ultra-Orthodox young men have been exempted from army service, remaining in religious studies long after they should become part of the productive work force).

While the present manifestations of social uprising will come to their natural end, as summer turns into autumn, and as the focus will turn to other urgent issues, an important process of change has begun.
It will be difficult to justify investments in ephemeral housing projects deep into Palestinian territory, rather than caring for the mainstream population.
While politicians have been looked down at for many years, and the young have turned their back on politics, a renewal of social and political involvement will arise.
New forms of democracy, some based on renewal of old ideas, will emerge. The use of social networks, which can of course also be misused (e.g. when rating becomes more important than truth), may be part of the new democracy.
The dialogue between elected representatives, government, and the people will be more direct.
Just like the government has appointed a committee to look into the situation, the social protesters have established an expert committee, a Committee of Elders, to formulate their demands.

New forms of democracy are being shaped in the tents of hope.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

News Release: Grady Harp reviews The Cycle of Life

The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the JourneyErel Shalit's Guidance Through the Journey of Life

by Grady Harp

Writing a review of the writings of Erel Shalit is daunting. How can anyone quickly distill the expansive and loving knowledge of this brilliant thinker and writer? The pleasure of reading Shalit's books (eg, ENEMY, CRIPPLE, BEGGAR: SHADOWS IN THE HERO'S PATH) is the absorbing of his manner of drawing us into his thoughts and speculations of Jungian individuation. He is a Jungian psychoanalyst in Israel but lectures throughout the world and the increasing acknowledgement of his many books indicates his level of importance in the community of psychology.

In THE CYCLE OF LIFE Shalit encourages the reader to reflect on all aspects of their time here on the earth, absorbing each of the stages of development of growing, but not dismissing the fountain of growth at the end of life. He early on gently shakes his finger at our contemporary thoughts of wanting to hide age: 'When cosmetics and plastic surgery mold a stiff and unyielding mask of youth, or rather of fictitious youthful appearance, old age cannot wear its true face of wisdom. By flattening out the valleys of our wrinkles, we erase the imprints of our character. Fixation in a narcissistic condition of an outworn mask silences the inner voice of meaning in our life.'

He divides his book into the stages of life and, of course, emphasizes the Jungian exploration of the second half of life (he reminds us that Jung is considered the father of the modern study of adult development). One of the selfless manners in which Shalit writes is his sharing of quotations by other writers - including Shakespeare's excerpt from 'As You Like It' - the 'All the world's a stage/ And all the men and women merely players etc'. He honors the words of colleagues alive and passed on, making sure that we the reader receive an expansive exposure to the interpretations of others.

But where Shalit blooms is in his compassion and this comes forward in the most needed spaces. He closes his book with the following: 'As much as we in old age reflect back upon what has been satisfactory in our lives, we need, as well, to bear our failures and foregone opportunities. Even if we have managed to walk our own individual path, having been fortunate to follow the road less traveled and found our way home to a sense of meaning in our personal quest, we need to carry the unanswered questions and unknown possibilities of the road not taken.' This is the soothing message he offers at the end of his insistence that we examine our lives as a whole. He is brilliant, he is warm, and we are the better for reading him.

Grady Harp, August 11

Grady Harp's book reviews appear in a host of syndicated publications, including USA TODAY, and he is an Amazon.com Top Ten reviewer.

The Cycle of Life and Enemy, Cripple, Beggar can be purchased directly from the publisher at the Fisher King Press Online Bookstore.