Deborah Rosen of Mercer Island has been nominated to serve as a national vice-president of the American Jewish Committee. She’ll be formally elected at the AJCommittee annual meeting in Washington, D.C., this May and will be the first Washington state resident to serve as a national officer of the organization.
“It’s an honor…to have an opportunity to be more deeply involved at the national level in AJCommittee’s important work and mission,” Rosen related to me in an e-mail.
A member of the Seattle chapter for 13 years, Rosen’s leadership roles have ranged from committee chairs to chapter president. She is the founding chair of the Seattle Jewish Film Festival — now the third largest Jewish film festival in the country — the chapter’s signature program.
The AJCommittee was founded in 1906 by a small group of American Jews concerned about pogroms in Russia. It promotes pluralism and fights bigotry and anti-Semitism around the world, supports Israel’s quest for peace, encourages energy independence and strengthens Jewish life. (The Seattle chapter is 60 years old.)
“For me,” adds Rosen, “AJCommittee is one of the most important organizations helping to ensure the safety of the state of Israel and promoting human rights and values world wide.”
A busy volunteer, Rosen serves on the boards of the Seattle Public Library Foundation, the UW Medical School Board of Visitors, the Seattle Repertory Theater, JCC Parenting Center, and the Jewish Federation Foundation, among others.
Rosen was a founder and co-owner of Basic Education Tutors, which operated from 1975 to 2002. She holds a B.A. in psychology from UCLA and an M.Ed. from Harvard. She and her husband, Douglas, have three adult children, Jonathan, Barbara and Adam.
There hasn’t been much written on how death and dying effect professionals who work with terminally ill people. That’s one reason licensed clinical psychologist Renee S. Katz wrote her second book, When Professionals Weep: Emotional and Countertransference Responses in End-of-Life Care, co-authored with Therese Johnson.
The Seattle-based psychotherapist has worked for over 25 years with dying patients, the bereft and those living with life-limiting illness. When she began her career as an oncology social worker, she noticed that professionals working with these patients and their families would often “over-help” or else withdraw from certain diagnoses or traumas.
“You only stay in the field if you have a deep passion for the work and compassion for those touched by death or terminal illness,” says Katz, “but the self gets in the way and it’s not always obvious.”
The book addresses the impact of the health care professional’s own emotions, beliefs and biases in their work, particularly those they are least aware of.
“The population is aging and is more aware of issues at the end of life,” she asserts, in the general public and among health care professionals, too. “We have definitely come a long way since the ’70s,” when psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ book, On Death and Dying, sparked the beginning of a movement. But still, “there’s a lot of denial. We’re youth-oriented and productivity focused, and anything that smacks of less than that scares us,” she adds.
Katz credits her Jewish upbringing with leading her to this specialty. “Judaism offers one of the most psychologically healthy ways of grieving and acknowledging our losses.”
She feels that it’s a mitzvah to be with people at this time in the lifecycle.
“There’s also a huge relationship between my family’s surviving the Holocaust,” Katz says, and her professional work.
“The end of life presents an opportunity, a unique opportunity to make meaning, work on relationships, leave a legacy,” Renee says. “It’s a very special time in the lifecycle.”
Former Seattleites Sylvia and Jerry Levitt, now of Scottsdale, Ariz., wanted to let us know that their daughter, Stephanie, was honored by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona as the outstanding senior for the fall semester. Stephanie, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, is a research assistant in the Department of Psychology, as well as a lead mentor for the psychology peer mentor program. She has served on a variety of the university’s committees, including the commission on the status of women.
Stephanie was active in Young Judaea here in the Seattle area and helped start a Phoenix chapter when she moved. She has been both a senior advisor and regional president of YJ’s Desert Mountain region and she got to return to Washington last summer as arts and crafts director for Camp Young Judaea West.
“I love Arizona,” she says, “but I’ll always have a place in my heart for the rainy weather!”
Stephanie is the granddaughter of Sol and Gladys Levitt of Phoenix and Aline Etzkin Abrams of New Orleans and Houston.