The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - • Text and photo: LISA SAMIN

Wendy Field­ing left a thriv­ing psy­chother­apy prac­tice, fam­ily, friends and a com­fort­able life in London to live in Is­rael. At the age of 62, dif­fer­ent el­e­ments in her life shifted, giv­ing her the in­spi­ra­tion to make aliyah. Field­ing grew up in Hamp­stead, London. At the age of three she be­gan bal­let lessons, and at 12 she was ac­cepted to the Royal School of Bal­let. “My par­ents did not think that this was a good ca­reer for a Jewish girl, so I didn’t go,” laughs Field­ing. “They were prob­a­bly right.”

Ram­pant an­tisemitism in her pri­mary school deeply af­fected her. Her par­ents took her out of her school for one year and sent her to a Jewish school.

“My home was tra­di­tional and we kept kosher, but dur­ing this year the seed was planted for deeper im­mer­sion into re­li­gious prac­tice.”

Upon grad­u­at­ing from high school, Field­ing was ac­cepted to univer­sity; the first one of her gen­er­a­tion in her fam­ily. “At that time, only about 4% of high school grad­u­ates went on to univer­sity,” she ex­plains.

De­spite her de­sire to study English, she knew that she needed a vo­ca­tion. She chose to do her first de­gree in so­cial sciences and went on to re­ceive her post grad­u­ate de­gree in so­cial work. She mar­ried shortly after col­lege.

Cit­ing her­self as ex­tremely lucky, Field­ing “landed a job” as a psy­chi­atric so­cial worker in The London (Teach­ing) Hos­pi­tal.

“This was dur­ing the 1970s and all of the lead­ing pro­fes­sion­als in the emerg­ing spe­cialty fields were work­ing and teach­ing there.”

She was ex­posed to dif­fer­ent kinds of ther­a­pies, from Gestalt to be­hav­ioral and group ther­apy, to psy­cho­anal­y­sis and mar­i­tal ther­apy.

“It was an ex­cit­ing time,” she says. Con­tin­u­ing on her pro­fes­sional path, she moved into child psy­chi­a­try and trained un­der one of the founders of fam­ily ther­apy, Robin Skyn­ner. Field­ing wanted to in­te­grate fam­ily ther­apy with psy­cho­an­a­lytic train­ing and spent two years do­ing pre-clin­i­cal work at the highly re­spected Tav­i­s­tock In­sti­tute of Hu­man Re­la­tions to­ward this goal.

Dur­ing this time, her son was born. Un­for­tu­nately, shortly after his birth, Field­ing and her hus­band got di­vorced. But be­ing a sin­gle mother did not stop her from pur­su­ing her train­ing in child psy­chother­apy. For the next eight years she worked part time while un­der­go­ing psy­cho­an­a­lytic train­ing, after which she be­came a child and ado­les­cent psy­chother­a­pist.

When her son was five, she met her soul mate, Mar­cus Field­ing, the head of WIZO London.

“We spoke about mak­ing aliyah, but at that time it wasn’t pos­si­ble,” she says. Shortly after their mar­riage, her beloved mother died. She was only 69 and never re­al­ized her dream to live in Is­rael. Two years later, Wendy and Mar­cus had a daugh­ter.

Hav­ing aliyah in mind, Field­ing un­der­took fur­ther train­ing in adult psy­chother­apy, which took an­other 10 years, while work­ing part time. In 2005, Mar­cus was di­ag­nosed with esophageal can­cer, and de­spite the doc­tor’s pos­i­tive di­ag­no­sis, Mar­cus died three days after his 53rd birth­day.

“We had a hol­i­day booked and the doc­tors told us not to can­cel our plans,” re­mem­bers Field­ing. “I was in shock for a year.” The next few years were very dif­fi­cult.

She be­came in­ter­ested in trauma ther­apy and the body/mind con­nec­tion, and over a three-year pe­riod she went back and forth to Is­rael to train in So­matic Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. As the only per­son in her area of London us­ing that ap­proach for trauma ther­apy, she had a steady stream of re­fer­rals.

A se­quence of events fi­nally led her to Is­rael. Her son got mar­ried and he and his wife moved to Aus­tralia. Her daugh­ter had just com­pleted univer­sity. And after 39 years work­ing in the Na­tional Health Ser­vice, Field­ing felt that things were de­te­ri­o­rat­ing.

“If I was go­ing to make aliyah, this was the time to do it,” she says.

Field­ing and her daugh­ter made aliyah in 2012. In pur­su­ing her dream to live by the sea and to at­tend a Car­lebach-style sy­n­a­gogue, she moved to Tel Aviv. Her daugh­ter, who had com­pleted her de­gree in per­for­mance de­sign and prac­tice at St. Martins Univer­sity of the Arts in London, vol­un­teered for the army. When Field­ing’s land­lord de­cided to sell the apart­ment, she had no idea where to go. She ended up in Old Jaffa, in a neigh­bor­hood her son de­scribed as “a di­a­mond in the rough.” De­spite mak­ing great friends and find­ing a won­der­ful yeshiva for ser­vices, when she was mugged in her car, she knew it was time to leave.

“I felt that this was a sign that I should move to Jerusalem,” she ex­plains. “I chose the neigh­bor­hood of Arnona be­cause I had ex­pe­ri­enced, from years be­fore, an amaz­ing Car­lebach sy­n­a­gogue, Miz­mor L’David, and I knew that this was where I wanted to go.”

Field­ing has found her spir­i­tual home and is try­ing to find her pro­fes­sional home as well.

“I am not a per­son who is con­tent to be re­tired. I would re­ally like to use my ex­pe­ri­ence and my skills, and would love to get in­volved in a trauma project so that I can reach more peo­ple than I could on my own. The only real ob­sta­cle I have is the lan­guage. Learn­ing He­brew has not been easy.”

“I worked in Eng­land for al­most 40 years. Now is my time to give back, pos­si­bly to teach or su­per­vise English-speak­ing ther­a­pists as well as set­ting up my own prac­tice. In spite of the dif­fi­cul­ties of liv­ing here, there is no place else I’d rather be. I re­ally want to be able to make a con­tri­bu­tion to this amaz­ing coun­try.” ■


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