What happens when you put a daughter of the Holocaust in a room full of Arab trauma workers just back from the Syrian crisis? Cross-pollination or conflagration?

That’s the question I pondered upon receiving an invitation to speak at a conference on “Transgenerational Trauma: Communal Wounds and Victim Identities” in Amman, Jordan. As a rabbi, psychotherapist, and human rights advocate, I had long been fascinated by the psychology of the Middle East. My curiosity was piqued. What might I learn about the psyche of my cousins on the other side of the Jordan River? I wondered. And to what extent might I be able to discuss my own research about Jewish historical trauma?

But several weeks from the event, the conference coordinator contacted me. Given the heightened tensions in Jordan, he said, it would not be advisable for me to mention that I was a Jew, much less a...

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