Arrivals: From Chicago to Bat Ayin

It was in 2000 - on the eve of the second intifada - that Daniel Winston, 38. his wife and three young children returned to Israel after a three-year stay in the US.

daniel winston 88 (photo credit: )
daniel winston 88
(photo credit: )
It was in 2000 - on the eve of the second intifada - that Daniel Winston, 38. his wife and three young children returned to Israel after a three-year stay in the US. "We knew the intifada was about to erupt as we were avid media watchers, but we were not deterred. We felt that the right move was to settle in Eretz Yisrael and not be scared off by those who seek to throw the Jews out of their land." FAMILY HISTORY Winston grew up in Chicago in a staunchly Zionist home. His father was a widely published writer in the Jewish press as well as an inventor ("most of the toys in the cereal boxes of the '70s-'80s were his creations") and his mother founded the Mid-East Information Resource in response to the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism. Still today, says Winston, his parents' every waking and sleeping moment is devoted to strengthening Israel. Emanuel Winston continues to write political articles, while his wife edits, networks and pilots their efforts through cyberspace. In his youth, Daniel, like his siblings, attended Jewish Sunday school and was a member of Hashomer Hatzair. BEFORE ARRIVING Winston first came to Israel at the age of nine. Several trips followed with his parents and, after graduating early from high school, he spent a year and a half in Israel taking part in various programs and working on a kibbutz. Back in the US, he studied neurobiology and philosophy at the University of Rochester, and then spent his junior year in Israel at the Hebrew University's Rothberg International School. During this period, he further strengthened his commitment to Judaism and became more religious. UPON ARRIVAL Winston made aliya in 1990 immediately after graduating from college and studied at the Israelite Yeshiva in Jerusalem. There, he met his future wife, Mindy Sarah. During this initial stay, he also studied massage therapy and psycho-structural balancing and worked with learning-disabled children. In 1997, with two young children in tow, the couple moved temporarily to the US to enable Winston to study for his MA in marriage and family therapy. When the family returned to Israel in 2000 they settled in Bat Ayin, a religious community comprising mainly hozrim bitshuva (returnees to religion) in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem. The intifada erupted two months later on Rosh Hashana, the day their newborn son had his brit mila. "I had had a strong premonition that there was going to be another intifada," says Winston, "and I had already begun fundraising for defense and medical equipment for the settlement while in the US." Despite the intifada, Winston proceeded to establish a private practice as a marriage therapist in Efrat and ran adventure-based therapy programs for American and Israeli teenagers. The programs consisted of three- to five-hour workshops in group dynamics and leadership skills. "Teens need a different approach to talk therapy," says Winston. "They need to experience an immersive, transformative process, otherwise everything remains superficial. My ideal is to take them out into the wilderness for 10 days and enable them to do things they would never usually dare to do. In this way they can discover their true potential and acquire the tools to change from the inside." Winston's approach to marriage counseling is equally unconventional and is based on Dr. David Schnarch's Crucible Approach. "The approach," explains Winston, "is designed to help people access the most solid side of themselves. Instead of aiming to lower the tension between spouses, as in many marital therapies, we are trained to channel that tension and temperature so that partners can engage in self-confrontation and see how, as individuals and as spouses, they are violating their own integrity and allowing their pain to call the shots in their marriage. This is usually a profound turning point in their dynamics, when many couples discover new hope." ROUTINE "I don't have a set schedule," says Winston. "I go to morning services in Bat Ayin or Alon Shvut, have breakfast, chat with my wife, read professional literature and fix things around the house. I see clients in the afternoon and frequently attend meetings on communal issues at night. I also try to make time for Torah study." LIVING ENVIRONMENT To begin with, Winston and his family lived in a caravan until they were able to move to their present spacious home, where Winston has his clinic on the top floor. The house overlooks the Judean Hills and rests on two dunams of land planted with a variety of fruit trees. CIRCLE "As a member of Bat Ayin's governing council, security team, the Gush Etzion search and rescue unit and as gabbai of my synagogue, my interactions are mainly with the men of Bat Ayin. In general, I am too busy for a social life and I feel that my family, my wife and six children and a few close friends is all I need." FAITH "I also know that none of us would be here were it not for Hashem's guiding hand and watchful eye. Even after the many tragedies our nation has suffered, I have an abiding belief that we are heading toward true redemption. The tragic events are a part of this process." IDENTIFICATION "I am Israeli and I am American but my main identification is as a member of the Jewish nation. The identities - Israeli, American, psychologist, husband, father - are all elements of my life but they do not define who I am. What defines my core identity is the fact that I am a Jew." LANGUAGE Winston speaks English at home with his family but is fluent in Hebrew. "I can work in Hebrew with couples and with Israeli teenagers and can even follow their slang. I read books in Hebrew but, of course, I am more comfortable reading in English." FINANCES "In the Ethics of the Fathers it is written: 'He who is rich is the one who is happy with his life.' I strive to be happy and to focus on helping others. As the Biala Rebbe says, when a person focuses on the klal - on the well-being of others - he creates great vessels for the reception of God's blessings." PLANS "I want to continue building my practice and perhaps open a second office in Jerusalem. I see my marriage counseling as a mission but I also feel I have a mission to reach out to those less fortunate than me. I am lucky to be able to raise a strong Jewish family and live in a community that so richly expresses the holy triangle of Torat Yisrael, Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael. But I also feel a deep desire and an obligation to reach out to all those Jews who have turned away from their roots and do whatever I can to expose them to the wonders of Torah and help bring them back to authentic Judaism." To propose an immigrant for an 'Arrivals' profile, please send a one paragraph e-mail to: