Biographical Information for Ephraim David Becker, Ph.D.
Early influences: I am the only son and youngest child of Holocaust survivors who retained a strong connection with their religious practice and faith in spite of unspeakable losses suffered during that dark period. I have always felt called to understand the process of emotional and psychological health that would endure such a challenge and to help pass that understanding on to others. Early on I assumed that the forum for learning about that fortitude and passing it on was the American pulpit rabbinate, and towards that end I served, after receiving ordination at the tender age of 22, in my first and only rabbinical pulpit, for three years. I found that the most attractive aspects of the position were the frequent hospital visitations where I brought support and solace to those in need, the teaching of Torah and personal counseling. I eventually followed the lead of each of those areas, becoming a clinical chaplain with the Jewish Chaplaincy Service of Milwaukee, teaching at the Yeshiva in Milwaukee and receiving a Ph.D. in Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where I focused my coursework on counseling. I wrote my dissertation on approaches to introducing counseling skills to teachers for use in aiding instruction. I have subsequently discovered a great deal of my own leanings in the writings of Victor Frankl and I have gone on to be certified as a Diplomate Logotherapist by the Victor Frankl Institute for Logotherapy.
When the opportunity arose to combine these skills in a position in Israel, I accepted the post as Mashgiach Ruchani at the David Shapell College/ Yeshivat Darche Noam in Jerusalem where I served for four years. The demands of my growing private counseling practice made it necessary to choose my full-time work and I have pursued my practice while teaching part-time, primarily in those programs which supervise teachers and counselors.
I have found that the Torah (through the Torah commentaries, Talmud, Midrash and esoteric texts) addresses the definition of a healthy personality and even provides therapeutic methods for achieving that health, if its sources can be properly accessed. Towards this end I have endeavored to study those sources and to consult with Torah scholars who have been able to direct my search for such insight and guidance. While this research continues, I have tried to transmit that which I have learned, and I look forward to opportunities to share those insights.
Counselors are often inundated with assumptions about what constitutes emotional well being, many of which are not informed by Torah sources and are borne primarily by the intuition and experience of the advocating practitioner. The search for, and insistence on, Torah grounding for assumptions about human beings is increasingly urgent, as the stakes are high and the emotional instability of western society increasingly knocks at the Jewish door. It is my hope that my talks and writings will be useful in bolstering confidence that the answers lie in the Torah and that the search is invaluable in its own right.