On Tuesday, as part of its spin on the Tikkun Leil Shavuot — the all-night study session traditionally observed on Shavuot eve — the JCC in Manhattan screened a number of episodes of the hit Israeli television series “Bitipul,” or “In Treatment.” (The JCC defines “study” broadly.)
The series was presented by psychologists Jill Salberg and Shuki Cohen, who introduced the show and led some post-screening discussions. The effect of the series, each episode of which is devoted to a session between a therapist (played by actor Asi Dayan) and one his patients, has been nothing short of revolutionary, Salberg and Cohen said. It has led to an increase in the number of Israelis in therapy — and an increase in what Israeli therapists are charging. (HBO is reportedly developing its own version of the show.)
To get a sense of the audience’s familiarity with the Israeli scene — and its level of psychoanalytic savvy — the two doctors did some informal polling. “How many here are from Israel?” they asked. About half the audience raised their hands. “How many here have never been in therapy?” Again about half the audience. “How many here work in the field of behavioral health?” Yet again, about 50%. (This is the Upper West Side, after all.)
With their polling complete, Drs. Salberg and Cohen started speaking about the show’s premiere episode, but they didn’t get very far. A bearded fellow with what sounded like an Australian accent — quite possibly voicing the audience’s consensus opinion — couldn’t take any more: “Can we just get on with the show and save the discussion for later?” he said cantankerously. And that’s all it took. The two doctors quickly slinked off the stage and dimmed the lights.
As they left, the bearded fellow — possibly in an effort inoculate himself against being perceived as a crank — added, “I’m a therapist myself.”