Rabbi's talk changed Terry's life after 'Great Depression'


AFTER her fifth child, Terry Rubenstein suffered what she termed a Great Depression for two years.

In 2004, her doctors were deciding what to do about the medication which was drugging her to the eyeballs when she made the courageous decision to stop taking it.

Through a combination of talking therapy and physical exercise and challenges, Terry was beginning to feel better, but the massive change to her life came three years later when she heard a talk by Liverpool-born Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt.

The founder of Aish in the UK, who now runs the London Jewish outreach organisation Tikun, had just returned from an Innate Health Conference in America.

He had been so impressed with the spiritual psychological system that he was spreading the word at a class scheduled to deal with prayer.

Terry was so moved that, together with Rabbi Rosenblatt, she set up a series of Innate Health seminars and workshops.

Now, nine years on, the movement has grown to such an extent that thousands of people are doing Innate Health training in the UK.

Terry has told her own story in her recently published book, Exquisite Mind.

Raised in the privileged milieu of white South Africa, Terry attended a school which she termed, "very socially and academically demanding".

She said: "All Jewish parents wanted their kids to do well."

At the age of 10, Terry was top of her class and captain of her netball team. She was liked by all her teachers and had never been in trouble.

Then a button fell off her uniform and dropped in the playground. Her classmates decided to follow suit and asked Terry to cut a button from their uniforms.

She foolishly obliged and was given a telling off by the headteacher.

She writes: "My bubble burst, my true identity exposed. Now everyone will know: I am not perfect."

Terry became a perfectionist, pushing herself to achieve A*s and feeling dreadful disappointment when she only got As. She became anorexic, fixated on her body image.

She forced herself to achieve such high A-level results that she received a full university scholarship for academic achievement, but this was accompanied by a frightening weight loss.

Her desperate parents shared their concerns with a woman named Janet, whom they met on a Cape Town beach.

Unconventional Janet, whose daughter was also suffering from an eating disorder, offered to take Terry in to help her overcome her disorder. Faced with the stark choice of going to hospital or living with Janet, Terry chose the latter.

Living in an unconventional household, into which Janet took drug addicts off the street for rehabilitation, gave Terry the freedom to relax and be more herself.

Within a week she had dropped out of university and her weight had started to creep up.

While staying with Janet, Terry, who had been raised in a traditional Jewish family, gained a deeper connection to Judaism.

Janet, who at the time was divorcing her non-Jewish husband, was converting to Judaism, seeking more meaning to her life.

This was taking place as Rabbi Akiva Tatz was sparking off a massive baal teshuva movement in Johannesburg to which Terry became attracted.

Within months, after working as a kindergarten teacher, Terry was studying in Jerusalem's Neve Yerushalayim seminary.

Her husband, Rabbi Brian Rubenstein, had also been influenced by Rabbi Tatz and had been studying in Jerusalem's Ateres Yisrael yeshiva.

They met in Johannesburg when he was home for a friend's wedding. The couple settled in Jerusalem's Telz-Stone, where Rabbi Tatz had settled, surrounded by the young couples he had influenced.

Brian took a semicha programme at Ohr Sameyach Yeshiva's Ohr Lagolah programme, which obligated him to doing outreach work in the Diaspora.

The couple moved to Golders Green's Jewish Learning Centre.

Terry experienced mild depression after the birth of each of her four children and found it difficult to settle down in London.

After three years they returned to Israel where Brian worked for Jerusalem's Heritage House for 18 months. They then returned to London to work for Aish.

All this time Terry was only superficially coping.

Then came the terrifying Great Depression after the birth of her fifth child.

She told me: "When I came off my medication, I decided I wanted to find a different way to be in life.

"For the first time I really questioned anything I had thought before. I was trying to make sense of life, trying to find a way forward, how to relate to difficult situations.

"Before whatever had showed up in my mind, I went with it. Now for the first time after the depression, it was almost as if I didn't trust my own mind. I started to look at other people who seemed to be doing better in life.

"My mind started to quieten, almost like that of a young child, to learn afresh how to relate to myself in the world.

"I just felt differently about life and about myself. I was very curious about life, almost like when I was a little kid and went back to a childlike curiosity."

Rabbi Rosenblatt's talk on Innate Health articulated for Terry the psychological change she had undergone.

She said: "It gave me a reference point to find my psychological health. It was almost like I had found it before, but I still had to join the dots.

"Innate Health changed the way I related to life and myself."

After training in Innate Health in America, Terry encouraged Rabbi Rosenblatt to set up an Innate Health Centre at Tikun, the first of its kind in the UK.

Now thousands of people are doing Innate Health training throughout Britain.

She reckons that Innate Health is "very in line with Judaism".

She said: "It comes from the core root that we are good, that we are healthy, that we have a soul.

"In the soul, we know what the right thing to do is, that we can have a wonderful life. We are not dictated to by circumstances and events.

"Things can happen that are very challenging and painful, but we are able to react to them with freedom and faith.

"A lot of the core ideas are very similar to Judaism. Most people who give it a chance and are open to it, like the ideas."


© 2016 Jewish Telegraph