An interview with Rabbi Elie Dordek of Ma’ale Adumim
For this month’s issue, WellnessJerusalem interviewed Rabbi Elie Dorek, of Ma’ale Adumim. Rabbi Dorek describes himself as “a proud father of seven and a loving grandfather. I have been involved in Jewish education for over 35 years as a teacher, administrator and educational publisher. Currently, I work with college-aged men at a yeshiva in Mitzpe Jericho. I’ve been involved for seven years in mental health and ‘wellness of the spirit’!”
Rabbi Dordek is finishing a master’s degree in psychotherapy at Yanar college in Jerusalem, specializing in Integrative Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). He uses dynamic techniques to help people relax, manage stress and make real lifestyle modifications for wellness. He comments: “I have learned various techniques to help people connect with their feelings, helping them understand fears and grow. I do this in a clinic and with workshops which involve meditation, breathing and movement in a safe, supervised setting. I have seen hundreds of people go through these programs and come out with a real chance to change their lives for the better!”
He continues: “In my Fathers and Sons workshops Even Yisrael (“The Fathers and Sons of Israel”), the pairs interact for hours using various exercises to open up their communication. For the first time ever, a son will hear his father ask: “What’s important to YOU?” They are each surprised to learn new things about the other and are able to build a new relationship based on common core values. In one exercise they draw symbols of these shared feelings and values and make the picture into a kite which they fly together. These are some of the ways to bridge the generation gap.”
Another method of helping his patients overcome stress and make positive changes is a unique form of music-biofeedback created and patented by Dr. Mordechai Lipo of Jerusalem (http://www.kinorlev.co.il). Rabbi Dordek works closely with Dr. Lipo in his clinic to help individual patients by using this creative method of releasing stress. The system uses a computer program which accurately charts and measures heart-rate variability (called HRV in the medical profession). After connecting the finger-sensor, the software shows changes in the heartbeat and outputs it into a visual graph with music that slows down and speeds up according to one’s levels of breathing and relaxation. The music is much more soothing than just listening to relaxing sounds on a stereo because the unique Kinor-Lev system dynamically reflects one’s own heart-beat. This leads to a deep level of concentration which is meditative in nature. Patients are able to create an orderly and coherent pattern of HRV, which is very healthy.
With the help of this program people feel and see a reduction of stress, tension and an increase in feelings of balance and well-being. Rabbi Dordek adds: “I feel rewarded and satisfied helping people overcome negative and obsessive thoughts, headaches and chronic digestive problems which can cause many illnesses. For some, the smooth muscles in the bowels and intestines begin to relax for the first time and a sense of joy can begin to return. People who have chronic headaches have trained themselves to relax and process life experiences differently.”
Rabbi Dorek has a unique role as a therapist. “In the therapeutic setting we can explore together such questions as: Why is making oneself more aware of fears and concerns helpful? Most people would rather avoid it, run away from it. Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “The only thing we have to fear is . . . fear itself.” On a deeper level, I explain that when I am running away from fear I then develop a “FEAR OF A FEAR!” Fear itself is finite and can be dealt with, yet FEAR OF A FEAR is enormous and seemingly infinite. Overwhelmed, we keep running away, and perpetuate this vicious cycle. This can be compared to a microphone held close to the speaker, creating terrible noise and interference. As a qualified practitioner, I provide a service in which we work together in a safe environment, we can face our fears, and see that it’s really OK to be afraid, it’s human and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Rabbi Dordek deals mainly with men. He explains: “Men have a reaction to fear that is different than that of women. Often men are afraid to actually say, I’m afraid of xyz . . . instead they say, “I’m under a lot of pressure!” When asked what the pressure is about, they might say:
- I’m under a deadline at work – and if I don’t meet it, my boss will fire me!
- I’ve got to get home by 6pm – or my wife will kill me!
- I promised my son to be at his baseball game – if I don’t get there in time, he’ll hate me and never forgive me!
The consequences may be bad, but it all boils down to “I’m afraid”. Men go into Flight (fear), Fight (anger) or another “F” called FREEZE. The third category is a stuck place of shortening breath and stress. Women can have all three– Flight, Fight and Freeze– but they have access to another “F”– FRIEND! When stressed out, a women may seek comfort from a close friend and talk it out. Men don’t give themselves this exit strategy and instead harbor much more anxiety.”
Rabbi Dordek’s protocol of bio-feedback and CBT techniques (among other approaches he blends) allows patients to relax enough to face fear, talk about it and reach acceptance and resolution. The environment is trusting and warm. The results are remarkable!
Say you saw this article in WellnessJerusalem and get a free 15-minute consultation with Rabbi Elie Dordek. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.