Why Israel Is the Perfect Place to Address the 'Psyche's Duality,' According to a Jungian Psychologist

This week at the Tel Aviv airport: A Russian therapist who believes in fostering 'chemistry between people’s souls,' and an Israeli woman on a religious mission

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Yulia Kazakevich.
Yulia Kazakevich.Credit: Meged Gozani

Yulia Kazakevich, 55, lives in Moscow and flying there

Hello, can I ask if this was your first visit to Israel?

No, I’ve been here something like 30 times. Over the past few years, I’ve come here about four times a year. I have family here, and friends and colleagues, and I love Israel very much.

Who doesn’t? When was your first time here?

In 1993. I had a friend who was studying here and he invited me to visit. At the time he was an undergraduate; now he’s a professor at Tel Aviv University. I hitchhiked everywhere then, and I had just completed an ulpan [intensive Hebrew course] in Moscow, so I was able to communicate with people. Today I’ve lost most of my Hebrew.

Why were you studying it in the first place?

I thought of coming to Israel. I have a lot of reasons to be here – I am Jewish and I have Israeli citizenship – but my life is in Moscow. I have two children, a job and patients.

What do you do?

I am a Jungian psychologist. I am a member of the Jungian analytical society in Russia and also of the Israeli Institute for Jungian Psychology, which is one of the reasons I come here so frequently. There is a large community of Jungian therapists in Israel, and we have joint projects. We meet, hold workshops, teach; there is dialogue and an exchange of ideas and dreams, and a touching of souls.

What is “a touching of souls”?

It’s hard for me to explain it with my English. We meet in order to feel one another, we present cases, we talk about patients and we share experiences. It’s far beyond an idea or anything rational; it’s an experience, a feeling, an atmosphere, a chemistry between people’s souls, abstract energetic things that don’t belong to only one person. It’s very typical of Jungians. It’s hard to explain, but I like these journeys very much.

Doesn’t it disturb your patients that you disappear?

For them it is more of a problem, but tomorrow I will start treating them again. I definitely worry about it. I know that there will be a great deal of anger and aggression, but I think it’s good that these difficult emotions arise, so they can be processed and worked with. It’s human to feel that you are alone, normal to fear rejection, and people and therapists have to work with that, so that the reaction to these things will not become pathological.

What do you mean by “pathological”?

Neurotic or psychotic, which are poor ways to cope with things. But when the soul is not balanced, these reactions occur. What’s interesting is that our psyche isn’t interested in happiness or joy, it aspires to be balanced and to restore balance if is disturbed. In many people there is a split between the dark side and the illuminated side, between the white and the black – what’s called “the shadow” – and we don’t always know how to deal with the dark side of the psyche. To cope with the duality of our soul, that is our work, that is my work as a psychologist.

Do you have a tip for how to do that?

I don’t come from a place of giving advice. As a therapist, I don’t necessarily know what motivates the psyche of the Other. My position is to provide space, a place where the coping can take place, and to offer a symbolic embrace that will allow the different sides of the psyche to be expressed, to be brought out, to be revealed and to be given a name.

But do you believe that there will be improvement if the shadow is accepted?

It improves the psychic quality of one’s life. I think that a very special situation exists in Israel in this context. Israel is a dual society, with polarity between religious and secular communities, Palestinians and Israelis, left and right – it is a special place that allows people to work with the duality of the psyche. The Torah also suggests that there is a way between these things, and there is a great deal of symbolism in the Bible that relates to this.

That’s why most people here are psychically balanced.

Maybe it’s not correct to say that people who accept the shadow have things better; it’s correct to say that they are more human. To me that is what “tikkun olam” is. When we take responsibility for our shadow, we engage in tikkun olam.

Ahuva Ben Hamo.Credit: Meged Gozani

Ahuva Ben Hamo, 65, lives in Migdal Ha’emek; arriving from New York

Hello, can I ask you what’s with the suitcases?

I was in New York and bought a lot of clothes. Wow, you can’t imagine how much shopping!

So you had fun?

Actually, I went for my granddaughter’s wedding. It was incredible.

Mazel tov. And what do you do?

I became religiously observant 37 years ago, during the days of Uri Zohar [a filmmaker and actor who became religious], and today I am engaged in creating closeness. I won’t go into details, because I am not looking to advertise myself, but I can say that since I became observant I have been feeling good, and that this good is not the sole preserve of the person who received it.

Why did you become religious?

My son became observant, and at first I fought him with all my might. But thank God, the whole family eventually became observant, and since then I have brought more people along with me. A person is born doubly bound: to his mother by the umbilical cord, and to the Creator of the world. If he grows up in an observant home, that cord remains, but if not, it is torn. For someone who becomes observant the cord is re-tied and shortened: The person is closer to God.

What is the meaning of being closer, practically speaking?

There is a hard period of terrible hunger and thirst – not for bread or water, but for the word of God. I have a mission. Actually, every person does, we are not here by chance. So I meet with women, conduct the rituaI of setting apart a portion of dough before baking bread. But I don’t want to talk about myself.

What about the women you meet?

Sometimes it seems they are far from me and Judaism, but when I get to know them I discover there’s no connection between their inner selves and the way they dress. They pray, observe commandments; they are more righteous than I am.

Why did you choose to bring people closer to religion?

We say that a person does not undergo an experience unless he can withstand it. Hashem [God] gives one strength needed to contend with the problem. Wherever Hashem places us, that’s where we should be. Sometimes there is agony, bereavement and grief, but it turns out that there is someone who is planning the world. It’s like a tapestry, a spectacular picture. If you turn it over, you see a great many threads, knots and a mess on the reverse side. What will come is the spectacular picture, because evil does not descend from Hashem.

How does that work with missiles being launched from Gaza?

You need to practice accepting things as they are: Emunah [belief] comes from the word emun [trust] and also from lehit’amen [to practice]. You are patient and accept with understanding. You can’t change anything. So what do we do? Should we feel sorry and cry?

That’s what I usually do.

It is better to accept with love and to wait. “It is a time of trouble for Jacob. But he shall be delivered from it.” This is a hard time for the Jewish people, morally, economically, but it’s precisely from this situation that we shall be saved. There’s no light without darkness; someone who has not experienced grief cannot see the good. We pray to our “king, helper, savior and shield.” A shield is like when we think something should be otherwise and then discover that it is actually for our own good. Like a person who misses a bus, when it was really preferable for him not to board it. Things don’t happen without a reason.

It’s a bit hard for me to agree.

Hashem is here, and in the whole world. So many missiles fell, yet there are no losses of life. Miracles. The God of the people of Israel is safeguarding them. God is steering things. I don’t wish for this situation to continue, but it happens in order to shock us. “When a shofar is sounded in a town, do the people not take alarm?” Every shock that happens to us here – we have to understand that [God] is waiting for us to do a spiritual soul-searching. So let us change our ways and then Hashem will make a change in the leadership.

I’m with you on that.

You know, everything that happens is meant to make us understand what is important and what is not.

And what is important?

Faith, security, love and the grace to see the other. There is no “first me and afterward you,” and a world of grace shall be built.