I Am My Brother's (and Sister's) Keeper: Jewish Values and the Counseling Process

Article excerpt

Dr. Mark Kiselica (2003) is to be congratulated for his comprehensive, supportive, and sensitive analysis of my article "The Counseling Profession's Relationship to Jews and the Issues That Concern Them: More Than a Case of Selective Awareness" (Weinrach, 2002a). Dr. Kiselica did a superb job in summarizing my main points. My primary thrust was to provide evidence of the historical context in which Jewish members of the counseling profession have existed, so that readers could determine for themselves the extent to which anti-Semitism has occurred. Anti-Semitism was operationally defined in the following context:

   Only one question needs to be answered in the affirmative to
   establish that anti-Semitism has taken place: If the same
   conditions or behaviors as those presented in this article
   were directed at women or members of other minority groups,
   would they be interpreted as sexist, racist, or homophobic?
   ... For example, if a behavior directed at a Latina would be
   considered racist then when directed at a Jew it should be
   considered anti-Semitic. (Weinrach, 2002a, p. 300)

As important as it is for the counseling profession to examine anti-Semitic behavior, focusing exclusively on it, or on the Shoah (Holocaust), misses Judaism's greatest contribution to humanistic psychology--the Torah's and the Talmud's teachings about the nature of human relationships. The humanistic teachings of the Torah and the Talmud have shaped my thinking, as well as that of much of Western civilization. In response to Dr. Kiselica (2003), I illustrate in this article how my principles, created in light of Jewish values, diverge from those subscribed to by advocates of an orthodox multicultural counseling perspective. Throughout all three articles (Kiselica, 2003; Weinrach, 2002a, 2003), the term Gentiles refers to non-Jews. I stand by the accuracy of my examples (Weinrach, 2002a, 2002b), some of which Dr. Kiselica reiterated (see Kiselica, 2003, pp. 427-428).


The stress of being culturally distinct in America does not foster unbridled optimism. Jews in the United States, and elsewhere, as well as other culturally distinct groups, learn subtle strategies to coexist with the majority culture and other culturally distinct groups. It requires acquiescing frequently to the will of others. It is quite true, as Dr. Kiselica (2003) stated, "Weinrach has not demonstrated a skillful grasp of how to foster and utilize the good will of Gentiles" (p. 435). Admittedly, I struggle with reconciling the fact that clearly an overwhelming majority of Gentiles do not harbor anti-Semitic views with the fact that anti-Semitic behavior by some counselors was, and still is, tolerated by the American Counseling Association (ACA). To no one's surprise, anti-Semitic behavior did not end with the publication of my article in the summer of 2002. (For a recent example, see Parham, 2002, and my analysis of Parham, 2002, in Weinrach, 2002b). How many times and across how many years must the counseling profession be alerted to anti-Semitic behaviors before what Dr. Kiselica (2003) refers to as "empathic confrontation" (p. 436) by Jews becomes a patently hopeless option?

Out of necessity, too many Jews are forced to tolerate anti-Semitism outside of the counseling profession. Why would Jews want to further subject themselves to such experiences within their chosen profession? Some Jews may feel justified in reassessing their role within the counseling profession or ACA. According to K. R. Thomas (personal communication, July 5, 2000), "although ACA does not maintain statistics on the religious affiliation of its members, it would appear that the counseling profession does not attract, proportionately, as many Jews as the professions of social work, psychology, and psychiatry." There may already be a self-selection process at work, for a variety of reasons, not just the existence of anti-Semitism. …