In 2015, I was asked by an Israeli Focusing colleague, Ifat Eckstein, “Is Gene Jewish?” “Yes, he is,” I was able to confirm, but that was all I could offer. “Is his mother Jewish?” The questions continued since, according to Orthodox Judaism, one’s Jewish status is passed through the mother’s lineage (if the mother is Jewish, the child is Jewish). “Well, yes, I’m almost certain,” I continued, “that Gene and his parents had to leave Vienna when the Nazis came; they were Jewish.”
For years, I’ve been exploring Focusing, meditation and spirituality, and had been interested in the relationship, if any, between Gene’s Jewish identity, heritage and experience, and the development of his philosophy and Focusing. My questions included: Was Gene’s mother, indeed, Jewish? Did his upbringing include participating in religious practices, attending synagogue, engagement in the Viennese Jewish community and so forth.
Knowing that Lynn Preston, my teacher and mentor and Gene’s long-time friend and colleague, also had a deep interest in these questions, I asked if perhaps she and I could meet with Gene to discuss these questions. The following is a transcript of two conversations between the three of us (the first held at Gene’s home, the second—at Gene’s request—on the phone) earlier this year.
Read entire interview...
Conducted by Ruth Rosenblum, LCSW (psychotherapist, Jewish Mindfulness Meditation teacher and Focusing Coordinator) and assisted by Lynn Preston, MA, MS, LP (Focusing-Oriented Relational Psychotherapist, teacher and supervisor)