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Lisa Aiken is a
psychotherapist and writer who made aliyah with her husband and
children just one year ago. She is the author most recently of Guide for the Romantically Perplexed,
a self-help book that includes practical advice and insights on
communication, problem solving, and ways to create intimacy based on
modern psychology as well as on examples from the Torah.
Aiken explained that the intriguing and catchy title is a take off on
Maimonides’ famous Guide to the Perplexed which is a digest of the most important ideas in Judaism, including what Jews believe and how Jews should live. Aiken’s Guide similarly frames people’s views on marriage and on how to be a good partner.
The book’s readers include Jews of all levels of observance as well as
non-Jews. As Aiken pointed out, “one needn’t be religious or observant
to benefit from a framework for marriage that has worked for more than
3,000 years.” For example, one of her non-Jewish patients was having
problems with her intimate life and Aiken recommended that she and her
live-in boyfriend reframe from sexual relations for two weeks at a time
and work on their communication skills. The couple followed this
advice, which is based on Jewish laws of family purity, and was amazed
at how much it improved their relations. The book’s communication
exercises and other ideas are often used as by couples as a focus for
time they spend together and as a way of enriching their relationships.
Originally from Baltimore, Aiken attended both Jewish day school and
public school and became an observant Jew largely due to the influence
of her 4th grade teacher. It was only when she started graduate school
at Loyola University in Chicago that she realized that although she was
studying for a Ph.D. in clinical psychology she had a grade school
knowledge of Judaism. Aiken decided to spend an hour a day learning
about Judaism and found that her Judaic studies enriched her abilities
as a therapist.
Although Aiken’s 8th book will soon be published, it wasn’t until
recently that she actually enjoyed the process of writing itself.
She began writing only because she thought that there were very few
well written English books that portrayed Judaism, especially issues
involving women, in a positive light. She wanted to make the
intellectual, emotional, and spiritual depth of Judaism accessible and
available to all English speaking Jews.
Aiken finds that living in Israel places stresses on relationships that
are different from those typically found in the US as American couples
living in Israel additionally feel the strain of high unemployment,
difficulties with language and culture, the fear of violence, and the
lack of family living nearby.
When asked what her favorite thing is about living in Israel, Aiken
responded: “The feeling of holiness, of G-d’s presence pervading
life. There are so many people here who are spending their lives
trying to make the world the place that our Creator wants it to be. The
work is endless, but very satisfying.”
Interview by Deborah Rosenbloom