In too many families, somewhere along the line there’s been a rift or an estrangement which has separated parents from children, or siblings from each other, or has cut off a large branch of the family tree. In her book, Ellen Sucov, a psychologist, sensitively and poignantly tells the stories of many families, including her own, where this kind of “cutoff” has occurred. The stories come from biblical and secular literature, as well as from actual families. In some cases, reconciliation occurs; in others, not; in still others, it’s a work in progress. Most of the examples are from Jewish families, and Sucov provides cultural background information that would enable a non-Jewish reader to understand some of the essential characteristics of typical American Jewish families. Sucov also weaves explanatory material from family systems theory and therapy into the text. The material is fascinating and enlightening, but would have been more accurately entitled “Fragmented Jewish Families.” Sucov (or the publisher) may not have wanted to produce a book that focused exclusively on Jewish families. However, the book is in fact an excellent discussion of estrangements in Jewish families, and unfortunately may have misled, and missed, prospective readers by not including this information in the title. Appendix, notes, references.
Ruth Berger Goldston is a licensed psychologist in Princeton, NJ and a long-time havurahnik.