Link to article in Jewish Press/ Nefesh Mind Body and soul quaterly publication

This is an article talking about the need for those living with schizophrenia to be given a chance and encouragingment to re-build their lives following the diagnosis.


A family Bus Ride

One advantage of living where I do is that I’m near to the first bus-stop of the route. Even in the sardiniest stage of the rush-hour, I get my choice of seat.

I was luxuriating in my solitary seat by the window as the nigh-empty bus absorbed more and more bodies stop by stop . Finally my solitude was broken by a mother with three little girls.

“Here, sit down Channa, Shulie sit next to her, that’s it.”

“But what about me?” piped up the youngest.

I squeezed myself into the smallest space possible and offered the extra space.

Efrat’s mum plonked her unceremoniously next to this strange stranger and she howled, cowering into the side of her bigger sister.

“Efrati, sit down, the bus is moving, you might get hurt.

Efrat jumped off the seat blubbering and howling about her lack of sitting space.

“Come Channie, you sit next to the nice lady and make room for Efrat.”

Channie squeezed herself next to her sister and looked at me as if I was a wicked something-or-other determined on her personal destruction.  So much for my kindly universal grandmother image.

“Efrat, sit on the step (the raised step that each double seat rested on). You sit nicely on the step and I will give you a sweet.

Not to miss out Channie demanded “I also want a sweet.”

“If Channie gets one, so should I” Shulie put in her bid.

Shulie hopped off the chair, “I want to sit on the step and I want the apple that Efrat is holding.”

“Efratti, give the apple to Shulie. Look Shulie has come off the chair so now you have a seat.” Mum put Efrat next to me as Channie had grabbed Shuli’s place next to the isle. Efrat’s scream dented my self esteem even further. Daddy came to the rescue and pulled his terrified offspring onto the safety of his lap on the seat in front of us.

“Where’s my sweet?” Channie demanded after all the commotion subsided.

“You will have to wait until the next bus stop. I can’t reach my bag while we’re travelling. Shulie, please sit down.”

“I don’t want to sit on the step.”

“You asked to sit there.”

“Oh, I’ve dropped a bit of apple, get it for me.”

“You can’t eat it, it’s dirty and anyway I can’t reach it whilst the bus is moving.”

“i want the apple.”

“i can’t get it.”

“I want it.”

“Where’s my sweet?”

“Shulie do sit down, you’ll get hurt.”

“Why aren’t you giving me a sweet?”

“I told you…ah, the bus is stopping, here my darling,”

“Not that one, give me another one.”

“That is what grandma gave me for you.”

“I don’t like it, what else have you got.”

“Here, I’ve found another one.”

“I don’t like it, I want a different sweet.”

“That’s it. You can have this one or the one I first showed you.”

“Give me the first one.”


Well done mum, you actually made a decision and stuck to it. I wonder why Channie listened to you? Tone of voice? The way you looked at her.

Mum might have answered:

 “I don’t know. She gets like that sometimes and sometimes she’ll suddenly do as I tell her and sometimes she won’t. I usually pray inside that this time she will but it doesn’t always work.”

 “If you think back again to the sweet incident, what was different about the way you gave her those two options and no other?”

 “There were really no other options and anyway she didn’t really deserve to get a treat. I had come to the end of my patients.”

 “Do you think she heard that message in your tone of voice?”

 “I suppose she did.”

 “Can you remember other situations when you have been so decisive with your children?

 “Yes, when we were crossing a main road and some of the children didn’t want to hold hands. On a main road, to cross by themselves, Chas v’ shalom what might have happened. They argued a bit and even let go, but in the end, they all held hands

 “How did you manage that time?”

 ”They just had to hold hands.”

 ”What did the children notice about you that made them do as you asked?”

 ”I didn’t shout at them. I think I had a ‘look’ and my voice was very firm.”

 ”Do they always obey you when you have the ‘look’ and your voice is firm?”



Mum  had a brainwave and picked up Channie, who was too busy chewing her ill gotten gains to protest and sat next to me putting the errant free-standing  Shulie on her other knee. Finally Mum herself was sitting down.

You have managed again. What do you think worked this time?

The next stop was theirs. Bye, bye mum, keep up the good work.

I went to Selichos last night, tissues in hand, ready for a direct hit on my shaky ‘it’ll be OK” bravado.
The Kaddish tune nearly pulled me straight to the ladies gallery full of perfume and fur-wrapped ladies who looked as if they could eat us children in one gollop. The Shofar was exciting. Perhaps a bit awesome should I have known the word for the emotion it conjured up.
I grounded myself and began the tearing pace gabble desperately trying to keep up with my fellow supplicants.
Hardly time for breath, barely time to recognize the letters and translate them into speech. Can this mean anything to me. Can I break through a whole year of denial at such an inhuman pace?
Give up, go back home and catch your beauty sleep. Selichos is for the men.”
“I’m not listening. Get out of my thoughts!”
You’ve already had a good try.”
My hand goes to my heart, head lowered “Oshumnu”
You know how to look the part but you’re just gabbling girl, put a bit of meaning into it.”
“I mean that I’m sorry and I will try to change.”
Not if I have anything to do with it!
“Why don’t you leave me alone?”
We’re soul mates, you and I.
“Not if I have anything to do with it.”
Look, everybody has already gone home. Shut your book will you?”
“Listen to the silence, can you feel a special atmosphere in a Shul just emptied and left alone with its latest dose of praying?”
I think you deliberately go slowly just to catch a few minutes of aloneness.”
“And what if I do?”

One of Those Days


Some days just don’t. You know what I mean. You had finally psyched yourself up to start your morning walk campaign setting your alarm for 6am to give you the extra time. The alarm seeps into your dreams and you finally open your eyes to a downpour that can only have been rivaled by bucketing during Noah’s flood. You drop your eyelids in disappointment just for a second and wake up in time to have a ‘race the clock’ breakfastless morning routine. So the day continues. Someone even comments “Got out of the wrong side of the bed did you?” You wish that you could just get back into bed and try starting the day again. Soaked and disgruntled you are arrive back home after the days doings ready to throw in the towel, curl up somewhere and escape into impenetrable sleep.

“Excuse me” a kind of internal voice/thought pipes up “There are hours of this day left, are you going to let that fiendish disgruntled steal hours from your life?”
“Just sleep,” sooths another thought voice “Just think of how rested you will be in the morning.”
“Don’t listen, pick yourself up, dry yourself off, and start all over again”
“A warm drink, a hot shower, clean dry even warmed pajamas and then…snooze and doze and luxuriate in the knowledge that you don’t have to get up until the morning!”
“Oh yes,” I say “That sounds wonderful”
“Don’t do it! Shake yourself off, eat something, write a list and get started”
“OK, out comes the ironing board, in the ears goes my MP3 with a whole menu of delicious shiurim. I’m going to live my day.



The ring slipped on her finger. “Haray Ut…..”Those words, that ring, that’s it: I have changed, I am no longer just an I, I am part of a we.

In those first few days after the wedding when the couple is being spoilt;  Marriage is really enjoying itself. The wife is being selfless while still floating on her pre wedding cloud. The husband is trying with all his might to do what he was taught in Chosson classes. Marriage wonders why it was being warned about a rough ride. No one has yet noticed that the toothpaste tube has been squeezed from the middle. The early nighter has not yet demanded to be in bed by 10:30pm.

Poor Marriage. If people only knew that it existed, then they would think about it more.

So if one of the couple say the wife decided to always act as her husband wanted wouldn’t that make for a deliriously happy marriage?  If the wife was really happy being perfectly selfless, then the marriage might be successful. It is more likely though, that there are certain things that the wife is forcing herself to do for her husband’s sake. After a while she might be angry and/or resentful at having to forego her own desires for the sake of her husband. Marriage will feel the tension and will be quite put out.

“Hey, Marriage, how are you doing today?”

“Rather under the weather, if you really want to know.”

Lets hear what Marriage has to say.

“This man puts a ring on a lady and suddenly I am dropped into this world straight onto the floor under  the Chuppa. It’s a shock, I can tell you and, like a new born baby, I really haven’t a clue what to do. Then the couple walk off and I, like a magnet, follow them. I feel happy and elated and a warm togetherness seems to envelope me. I’m so happy I was chosen to be this couple’s marriage. If I had a mouth and a face, I would be beaming.

“Channie, they’re waiting for us”

“Shaul, just give us five more minutes, we’ve been apart for so long.”

“It’s only been a week Channie. I think it’s very selfish when the Chosson and Kalla keep their guests waiting for a long time”

“I just asked for another five minutes but if you don’t like being with me….”

Hey, you two, I’m your marriage, a brand new Marriage, and I’m beginning to feel a little bit queezey.”


A couple of years and a couple of kids later.

“”If she would only do as I tell her . I just can’t seem to change her. Maybe you will have some more success.”

“I know that I need to work on my temper. It’s not that I deny having a temper. But he’s enough to try anyone’s patience. He never comes home on time and then, if by some mistake he really does arrive when he said he would, he is very upset that the food is not always ready.

“You’ve had plenty of warning that I was coming”

“Yes, but you never come on time.”

“Not a wonder, because you’re never ready for me.”

“Do you hear him, therapist? Time after time I have to serve him with dried-out re-heated victuals . Then he says to me that it is my fault that he comes late because his food isn’t ready.”

“Keep your voice down. Do you see her, the reddening of her face, the speeding up of her speech. Any minute now the screaming will begin?”
“H O W  D A R E  Y O U!”

“See, what did I tell you.”

I have to tell you that it’s so hard living with these people. I’m really hurting. I used to want to stay close but now I try to hold back. I’m dragged along with them wherever they go but, if I had my choice, I would leave. Pulling me apart would be rather like splitting the atom.  I’m their bond you know.

“We’re going round in circles, that’s what we’re doing. “

“It’s not important what shape we’re going in. Just control your temper  and we’ll do fine.”

“Just don’t annoy me and we’ll have a perfect marriage.”

“No need to be facetious.”

“No need to put all the blame on me.”

“If the cap fits…..”

“D I D  Y O U  H E A R  TH A T?!”

“Shall we try something different?”

“Let’s hear it.”

“Your marriage doesn’t seem very happy when Temper is around.”

“You’re right, I’m not.”

“No, I wasn’t talking about you; I was talking about Marriage. Did your Marriage once have happier times?”

“Do you remember how we used to go for walks together on the long, warm summer nights? We used to dream of our future”

“And look what a future we’ve got.”

“And, Mr. Cohen, do you remember having happier times”

“The truth is, I think she’s just exhausted. If she would only have more sleep at night, she might flare up less often”

Hey, I’m beginning to have a warm cozy feeling of caring creeping up my toes, I wonder if they’re growing together again?

“So Temper’s putting a strain on Marriage and there seems to be some issue something about punctuality.”

“What with the kids and work and your learning, we never seem to have time just to enjoy each other.”

“Yes week follows week and all I hear from you is about the broken washing machine and your broken nights.”

“What do you think would happen to Marriage if you found a few minutes a day to go for a walk or just to chat over a cup of coffee?

I’m floating on air. It’s beginning to be like it used to be.

“But what about her temper?”

“What about it? What happens to your marriage when Temper is around?

“I don’t know. I try to disappear or just ignore her.”

“I’m upset and need him and he ignores me and he sometimes even puts his fingers in his ears.”

“If only you would tell me what was wrong instead of blasting off like a rocket.”

“Is that what it’s like? A rocket blast?”

“No, I’m just so upset that the words tumble over each other and blast out to be heard.”

“What does Temper say to you to get you so upset?

“Oh, it says that they always blame me and it’s so unjust. Then it reminds me that  nobody cares about me because I’m not worth of caring about.. You know, that sort of thing.”
“She’s always putting herself down. Do you know who she is: a mother; a teacher; she runs the local paper and fits in some voluntary projects. Not worthy? She’s over worthy.”

“I wonder what you two could come up with for helping to keep Temper out of your Marriage?”

“I could buy Shaul a watch with an alarm and set it for him day by day.”

“And I could try to calm her down with a cup of coffee and a homemade muffin, or, perhaps, just give her a hug”

Now, that’s more like it. A hug.

Batya Jacobs, Netzach of Yesod

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