Marcia Cohn Spiegel
Back in the early 1960s, when I realized that my husband was an alcoholic, I turned first to my rabbi and then to a Jewish psychotherapist. Both assured me that since it was well known that Jews are not alcoholics, if my husband had a drinking problem it must be something I was doing. I was devastated. What was I doing wrong? For many years I wore two faces, a public face and a private face.
Marcia Cohn Spiegel was born in Chicago on October 16, 1927, and earned a B.A. in psychology from Rockford College in 1949. She was an active volunteer in her suburban community and synagogue until two simultaneous awakenings changed the course of her life: she discovered how few women were included in Jewish texts and anthologies, and at the same time she was forced to acknowledge that her husband was an alcoholic. In 1976, she enrolled in the School of Jewish Communal Service of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where her thesis The Heritage of Noah: Alcoholism in the Jewish Community Today was the first documentation of the disease in the Jewish community. Spiegel has taught at the University of Judaism, UCLA, and synagogues and centers across the U.S., Russia, Ukraine, London, Jerusalem, and Sydney. She has written extensively in scholarly journals, Jewish periodicals, and anthologies, about Jewish women’s poetry, alcoholism, addiction, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.
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From “Changing Jewish Families,” keynote address by Marcia Cohn Spiegel at the New Jewish Agenda conference, UCLA, August 11, 1987.
Credit: Courtesy of Marcia Cohn Spiegel.