My Extraordinary Colleague ‘Abe’

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My Extraordinary Colleague ‘Abe”

by Dr. Lipa Sireling

25 May 2022

I have fond memories of Rabbi Dr. Avraham Twerski zt”l.  One of them is reflected in my first meeting with Rabbi Twerski, many years ago at an American Psychiatric Association annual conference. There was (and for all I know still is) an organisation of American Jewish psychiatrists which convened during the APA conference, and to which my wife and I were invited.

We had come across Rabbi Twerski some years earlier at a Mental Health Retreat, where he spoke movingly of the work which he did. However this APA conference was our first chance to meet him personally. With my wife’s encouragement we approached him at the get-together: she had noticed that he was standing by himself. When I addressed him deferentially as Rabbi Twerski, he responded “please call me Abe”.

We had a very useful conversation about many topics including, of course, substance misuse, during which he provided valuable advice about a particular patient of mine. Over the subsequent years we met on several occasions, either during conferences of psychiatrists or when he came to the UK to speak to a Jewish audience. He would sometimes apologise to me for having to sit through “the same talk yet again”, claiming that he only had one talk, which was manifestly untrue. (He also sometimes said that he had only written one book, but had written it in dozens of different ways).

A unique individual, although of course he would say that applies to everybody

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