Diane Wyshogrod

I’ve always loved to read. One of my biggest thrills as a kid was coming home with a stack of books from my beloved library, the Highbridge public library in the Bronx where I grew up. By the time I got off at our bus stop, I’d often finished one of them, much to the wry amusement of my mother who knew that meant we’d be returning to the library again, soon. And also very early on, I discovered the magic of writing and decided that I would someday write a book. I shared that dream with my grandfather. “You will do it,” he responded, in his gentle, stately tones. “Just write about what you know.” I imagine how thrilled he would be with “Hiding Places,” a book about knowing, and not knowing, and all the intersections in between.

I pursued my love of writing all through elementary school at Akiba Hebrew Academy (I turned out a poem or story a day for months in fourth grade), and at Ramaz High School (I was active on the school newspaper and literary journal). When I got to Barnard College, I fully intended to pursue my love of literature by majoring in that subject, since that’s always what I’d planned to do “when I grew up.”

And then I switched tracks. Surprising even myself, I decided to major in psychology. It offered the same excitement I’d felt in literary analysis: the challenge of delving into the motivations underlying behavior, and the pleasure of immersing myself in the scrutiny of themes, structures, and the poetry of language and experience. To see if I had what it took to work in this field before committing to a very long haul of education and training, I volunteered on the psychiatric ward at Bellevue Hospital in New York. I discovered how fascinating and challenging the work was, and how gratifying. That clinched it: I studied clinical psychology and obtained my PhD at Long Island University in 1985.

I love my work. I specialize in anxiety and stress reduction and in behavioral medicine, teaching people to reduce stress and live healthier, happier lives. I am constantly on the lookout for cutting-edge techniques that I can share with my patients, one of which is mindfulness, an age-old approach that is garnering intense scientific interest and scrutiny. I specialize in taking the mystery out of meditation and mindfulness practices and teaching people how to use this in their daily lives in order to overcome their blocks and realize their dreams.

Along the way, I discovered that I’m still “growing up,” and that my own dreams of writing – writing publicly, in addition to personal journals and letters – were still as active and alive as ever, and demanding expression. In 1998-9, I edited my father’s memoir about his Holocaust experiences. In 2001, a segment of HIDING PLACES entitled “The Coat” was published as a chapter in “Second Generation Voices: Reflections by Children of Holocaust Survivors and Perpetrators” by Alan L. Berger and Naomi Berger. In 2002-2003, I wrote a series of articles for “Jewish Renaissance,” a British magazine featuring Jewish culture. I was very gratified to win the award for the best professional article in the Board of Deputies 2003 Community Magazines awards. And through all this, I kept doggedly working on this book. Its publication represents the fulfillment of one of my oldest, fondest dreams.

Lest anyone think all this happened in a vacuum, I want to give credit to the other major influence and source of happiness and inspiration in my life, my family:  my husband, Chaim, a “serial entrepreneur” specializing in high-tech companies, and my three sons, Yonatan, David and Yehoshua. They’ve grown up hearing my mantra “it’s okay– for a first draft,” but when it comes to them, God broke the mold; they are a source of pure perfect joy.

Since 1991, we all live in Jerusalem, Israel, an experience of constant challenge and wonder, and the fulfillment of yet another dream.

Who says dreams can’t come true?