Juliene Berk

The second edition of THE DOWN COMFORTER How to Beat Depression and Pull Yourself Out of the Blues is a classic that has received outstanding endorsements from top psychiatrists and professionals.
Today, at epidemic proportions, mental depression affects more than 350 million people worldwide. It is twice as common in women as in men. Up to 60% of those who suffer from clinical depression or mood disorders commit suicide--including many teenagers and soldiers--more of whom kill themselves than are killed in battle. Less severe forms, called “the blues” or “downers,” affect almost everyone and can ruin relationships and devastate lives. Many clinicians, neurologists, and researchers have written about depression in theoretical/​clinical terms, but this book is different. It is written from the point of view of the sufferer.
Sir Winston Churchill, himself a sufferer, once referred to depression as “the black dog”–Samuel Johnson’s term for his own depression. Even Abraham Lincoln had severe bouts of depression most of his life and struggled with it as he was struggling with a disintegrating Union.
Written by a woman who learned on her own hide how to beat depression, The Down Comforter offers practical ways to help yourself in a humorous, witty style. You’ll chuckle (a help in itself) as you read the insightful stories and breakthrough understandings which the author personally carved out of her own pain. Her unique weapons can be used by themselves or in conjunction with other therapies.
Some of the top mental health professionals all over the country have found The Down Comforter of great interest and value and have given this book their unqualified approval and recommendation, some examples:
“Profound psychological insights which overwhelm one all the more because of their deceptively simple formulations.” Bertram Schaffner, M.D. William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry
“An enormously perceptive book which moves easily from the ‘how to’ to profound exposition which suits the lay person and the clinician as well.” Beryl Lovitz, M.D., P.A.
“A light touch on a heavy subject by one who understands the depth of despair and who counsels with wisdom.” Dr. Leon Salzman, Prof. of Clinical Psychiatry Georgetown University Medical School; author of The Obsessive Personality; Obsession to Kill; Developments in Psychoanalysis.
“I recommend this book to colleagues, friends and patients.” Leah Davidson, M.D.
“Anyone whose depression will allow them to read this book will no doubt find some part of it beneficial.” Dr. Jan Fawcett, Professor and Chairman, Dept. of Psychiatry, Rush Medical College and Rush Presbyterian/​St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois.
“… This is the best first aid on what to do until the psychoanalyst gets there.” Dr. Edward J. Hornick, Chief of Clinical Psychiatry, Manhattan Psychiatric Center, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Einstein College of Medicine.
For review copies contact: Dr. Inna Rozentsvit, ORI Academic Press tel: 646-522-1056; oripresseditor@​gmail.com.

When I wrote THE DOWN COMFORTER, a huge sinkhole had just swallowed up my life. Everything I had dreamed of, worked for and built went down into a black pit, taking me with it. I had no idea how to build a new life, or if I even wanted to.

But nature has a way with us. She asserts herself as a force of life, and whether we think we want to live or think we want to die, she struggles to preserve what she knows is the most precious gift in existence.

So I started to try to figure out why and how things had gone so wrong for me. I examined myself as honestly as I could, asking my ceiling unanswerable questions. After a while, the questions led me to a kind of thinking I had never done before—I discarded all of my old standby answers and pursued new ones. Instead of “why” and “how” I began to look at “what.” And with a long list of “whats,” I began to sort them into different categories. That is how eventually I came up with a central concept for this book: there is not ONE big thing called “depression;” there are a number of situations that we lazily throw into one bag with that catch-all label. This, of course, led me to understand that “labeling” itself is a cheap shot at understanding. We do it instead of thinking.

I did a lot of reading—you’ll find many titles listed that contributed to a new understanding of what mental problems are like and different ways to cope with them. You’ll find these helpful books still mentioned in this new edition. The more I read, the more I thought about what the experts were saying. I began to look at my behavior in several new lights–and I began to draw conclusions based on ME—my habits of mind, my behavior patterns, my ways of digging the pits I fell in to.

I said then and I repeat now—what I wrote here is not intended to replace professional help; if anything, it is meant to support it. I also do not want to suggest that self-help, no matter how insightful (and I hope my book is) can be of much use to severely depressed people who are called “clinically depressed.” That’s a different story. I do believe, however, that getting into the habit of throwing all your woes into that one bag and labeling it “depression” can lead to the most insidious kind of all–HABITUAL DEPRESSION. I have a hunch that the habit of reacting to problems in that manner can sometimes lead to clinical depression. It is the “one bag” I most strongly warn against.

How have I fared since I wrote this book so many years ago? Have I cured myself of this most debilitating condition? No! Do I never feel down or blue? You bet I do! But I have learned how to manage those “normal” reactions and get out of the pit much faster than I could before.

In the initial version of this book, I made a number of acknowledgements. Thank Yous in general, and some Thank Yous in particular. Time has robbed me of many of those who encouraged and offered appreciation for what I was trying to do. It is with a great sense of loss that many of the friends’ names which appeared then, are now, sadly, only alive in my heart. Loss is for me, the greatest cause of depression. But writing this new acknowledgement allows me to retrieve in memory, the loving-kindnesses so generously bestowed on me—not only in this effort, but in my whole life.

As I have matured, the world has changed. I now say what people accuse their parents of saying: “When I was your age…” I do believe that the world at the moment is very difficult to live in. Perhaps I am more aware now, and perhaps I see more. But there is a great deal of pain and suffering out there—enough to make anybody depressed. And I firmly believe that the more intelligent you are, the more aware, the more you will tend to react with sadness (which most people confuse with depression). Therefore, it may be that my book, my hard-won self-knowledge and world-knowledge may be even more needed now. I want more than anything, to offer the hints I have found and used to help others. Helping others is a first-rate way of overcoming depression! If you feel you are doing something to make matters better—even for one person—you will feel relevant and useful. Those are two feelings of enormous benefit in overcoming all those negative concepts of ourselves that make us feel so lousy.

To order, or for more information contact: oripresseditor@​gmail.com

For reviews and comments, please see Discussion section.

A collection of original short stories about real people and actual events involving Jews who arrived in the South in the early part of the last century. We see glimpses of what life was like for them in the New World. The stories are rich with the customs, attitudes and struggles of these newcomers and the ways they created to adapt to America. A piece of living Jewish history can be seen in the humorous and moving tales of the people who helped make it. Here are the new immigrants interacting with their new country and with each other.

Lara Moskovitz Berkovitz wrote her story in her own unique voice and language. It reveals how a shy uncertain girl, through struggles, hardships and great losses, became an extraordinary woman. Her moving memoir is embedded in a narrative by her daughter giving the history, background and setting of her life. The events of the early 20th century played out powerfully against the lives of Lara and her newly southern American Jewish family.
At the end Lara wrote:
"You get what you Build. That's my Life."
Please see DISCUSSION section for REVIEWS and COMMENTS

TO ORDER: please email: JulieneBerk@​aol.com.


CALL HER BLESSED: Biography/Memoir473 pages with over 160 original photographs and illustrations.
The inspiring life of Lara Moskovitz Berkovitz who through courage, stamina, wisdom and love became a fully realized woman before there was such a thing as "feminism." The story tells how she grew in strength and understanding as she survived heartbreak and terrible loss to make her life one of rich fulfillment.

The author says about this work:

From early childhood I wanted to know about my mother's life. "Tell me about when you were a little girl" was my open sesame to a whole wonderful world.

As I grew older, I heard more and more of the chapters that filled the book inside her, and the people she spoke about took on substance -- as if I, myself, had known them in a different time and place.

One day three or four years before she died, my mother said to me, "Why don't you write my story? It's very interesting." When I answered that I couldn't write her story, only she could, she sat down and began to write. A week or so later, she showed me a sheaf of 67 pages. Other than to ask a few questions, I did nothing. After her death, I was too full of the pain of loss to open the manila envelope that contained her angular writing. The manuscript sat in a drawer gathering importance and waited.

Though I was filled with her stories that supplied me with pictures and sounds, places and people, thirteen years would pass before I was able to begin to write her story. In her writing, she indicated only sketchily the events that caused her great suffering. I would fill in the gaps, she knew.

Lara Moskovitz wrote in her memoir:

My Father was in the Catle Business he made a poor living but My Mother never complained they lived pecefully although My Mother was diferent from my Father he liked to sing & Drink Wine & Dance she didnt even bother with the neighbors my Father used to do what he wanted & she did what she wanted they never argued about anything, they had tree Sons before I was born naturally they were happy to have a girl...



"... a delightful collection of vignettes..."
American Jewish Historical Society

"... collection of 22 charming stories..."
Florida Today

"... true stories about how it was in America when Eastern European Jews were fleeing pogroms and poverty... Hardships are combined with humor as the extended Bercovici-Berkovitz-Berk family adapted to their new country... Yankel comments on what he sees, thinks and feels in the manner of Sholem Aleichem's Tevye..."
The Las Vegas Israelite

... GLIMPSES OF SOUTHERN JEWISH ROOTS is a collection of short stories about real people and events involving Jews who arrived in the South 100 years ago. Also included in the book is "Yankel In Amerikeh," a group of vignettes told in the voice of one of the immigrants speaking his new language in a distinctive way..."
Daytona News-Journal

"... a 125 pager worthy of mention... well-written and interesting..."
The JEWISH WORLD Northeastern New York, Vermont and Western Massachusetts

"... The adjectives that came to mind while reading these works were pleasant and charming... Berk's loving descriptions makes it easy to see that she truly cares about these people, and readers may find themselves feeling the same. And then there's Yankel, the funny elder who has almost disappeared from the American scene. I found his monologues on life amusing... If you laugh or groan with pleasure, you'll find yourself liking Yankel."
Rabbi Rachel Esserman, The Reporter, The Jewish Federation of Broome County, Binghamton, New York.

A collection of short stories and vignettes based on family characters.

Fiction based on the love/adventures of Casanova.

The Moskovitz Family

Here is a quote from the narrative text of CALL HER BLESSED:

Used to a life of comfort, after her marriage to Yankel Moskovitz, Gittel Nachman was soon measuring the amount of water to add to the soup pot mouth by mouth. At first she added a cup for Itzick, their first born, then a second for Julius and a third for Shruel. By the time Lara, her younger sister Sophica, and Ruben came along, the cups to be added called for a cauldron.

Lara Moskovitz at 14 1/2

ROSA BELLA TAKES CARE OF THE WORLD (PLAY) with klezmer music by Yale Strom
Based on a true story set in America's South and Havana, Cuba at the beginning of the 20th century which deals with an Eastern European Jewish tradition of "special women."

In the afterlife, Hugo von Hofmannsthal wants to write the sequel to DER ROSENKAVALIER. Gustav Mahler wants to write the music. Slowly Hugo realizes that Marie Therese, his muse and dreamed of ideal, has taken over. The story and the myth upon which it is based, is no longer dictated by patriarchal powers.