1950 – 2018
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
Robin B. Zeiger
There are important individuals in our lives that touch us in moments. For me, Erel was one such unique individual. The moments he touched me transformed my second half of life heroine’s journey. At the age of 50, I immigrated to Israel as a clinical psychologist with a longing for newness born in deep meaning. As a stranger in a strange land, Erel, himself a fellow immigrant from Sweden, took me under his wings and escorted me to a world of colleagues and mentors. Because of him, I began training in Jungian psychotherapy in Hebrew (no easy task). Erel was there for me at key junctions in the journey, as a supportive ear when I suddenly learned of the death of my former Jungian analyst in America, as encouragement to train as an analyst, as a guide to finding my excellent training analyst, and as a sounding board for my own writing. I learned of Erel’s gift as a lecturer, teacher, writer, and analyst. Erel told the story of someone who told him he would never be an analyst.
Yet the moments of meaning continued after Erel’s untimely passing from this life. Erel’s funeral was one of the most spiritual and unusual funerals I ever attended. In the midst of the deep suffering, Erel found strength to plan for his funeral with his family and soul-mate Nancy Furlotti. His daughters recited and transformed traditional Jewish blessings of life to complete the cycle. Erel recording his own message to be played.
But perhaps what touched me was a poem Nancy read, In Blackwater Woods” by Mary Oliver. The poem opens beckoning with a beautiful image of life and hope.
Look, the trees are turning
their own bodies into pillars
are giving off the rich fragrance of
cinnamon and fulfillment…
This poem, one of Erel’s favorites, was chosen prior to his death. Yet unknown at the time was the synchronicity. Erel died on the Jewish holiday of Tubeshvat, the New Year of the Trees. Jewish tradition is rich with connection to trees, comparing humankind to trees of the field, blessing the first blossoms of fruit trees each year, and a Biblical commandment to protect fruit trees in times of war. Nancy in her deep grief read the first piece of the poem and realized she had forgotten the second half at home. I was so touched that I pursued the last half. The last few lines reached even deeper to frame the moment.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
Erel’s casket was accompanied to the grave with the refrain of the Beatles: “You say good-bye. I say hello.” Here the tears of hope and mourning flowed freely. Sometimes we must let go. Yet, the letting go and mourning bears the seeds of potential to take the gifts of relatedness deep inside our heart and soul. Erel left a rich legacy of teachings, writings, and of relationship to family, friends, colleagues, and analysands.
Nancy Swift Furlotti
Erel Shalit was my very special soul mate and partner. I miss him profoundly, as many others do, too. Yet, hIs shadow soul remains with us– as it moves from place to place, leaving memory reminders of himself and whispered suggestions for us for the questions we need answered. These are the synchronicities that keep us close. We can see a bit of who he was not only from his books, but also from his poems and of course dreams that helped to direct his fate and his destiny to his death– his peaceful passing from here into his imageless existence. Death is not something we frequently discuss, although it is ever-present in our individuation process. The constant little psychological deaths prepare us for our final birth out of this life. We all struggle to make sense of it. We have a lot to learn from those who have gone before us along with the spiritual traditions that prepare us for this final voyage– many of which have been forgotten, leaving us on our own. Erel leaves us with a precious example of how life prepares us for death.
I would like to offer three poems Erel wrote years before his death that show the burden he carried with him in his life that ultimately helped prepare him for his end.
My Father’s House
When I was very young indeed
In my father’s house, I bent low
Under the yoke of the Fathers
When I was somewhatyoung, in deed
I sailed the waters of truth, valor and concern
Capsizing in the universalizability of Asch’s peaceful sea of forgetfulness
And when older still, I turned Lucretius’s plastered mask inside out
To see now who I am when looking through the eyes in the mirror
Bewildered, unable to free myself from the dread and gods;
Between spoken fate and chosen destiny
Imprisoned by the spirit of Europe’s bitter-sweet soil
Fury and embrace, lamb and lion cannot dwell together, I thought
& so as seasons pass, I found myself alive
Wearing garments of equality
Freedom and fraternity
Yet stained by concentrated stripes
To hear the newborn who had yet to cry,
& the young whose pain screams up to heaven,
And the elderly who can no longer weep.
To the Chamber
On a cold winter’s day I stood there freezing
In Majdanek’s chamber
There died motherhood
In that very chamber
Before I was born
By creation’s reversal
They had turned substance into nothing
Deleted the frame and emptied the vessel
And I froze and knew that fifty-five years before
I would not even have made my way in the cold through the frozen snow
To the chamber
The very large page
In the yellow brown book
Has to be repaired
Slowly, With great patience
Thread by thread Fiber by fiber
Horizontally and virtually
Until the black letters of the aleph-beth
One by one falls into place
So that all the previous pages in the thinthick book
Might fall into place
And the picture comes together
Perhaps at the very end
Nancy Swift Furlotti
As part of a later interest of his, he edited and introduced Jacob and Esau: On the Collective Symbolism of the Brother Motif by Erich Neumann through Recollections, LLC, a company that publishes first generation Jungian material. Turbulent Times, Creative Minds was a compilation of lectures given at a conference he organized at Kibbutz Shefayhim in Israel in 2015, considered one of the most memorable Jungian conferences, in celebration of the publication of the Jung-Neumann Correspondence, which he was instrumental in getting published. And his work will continue to be published.
He was general editor of the up-coming two-volume work by Erich Neumann, The Roots of Jewish Consciousness, edited by Ann Lammers, which will be published by Routledge in 2019.
He has left two slightly unfinished manuscripts, The Soul Lost in Translation at the Dawn of a new Era, and A Story of Dreams, Fate and Destiny (Zurich Lecture Series, 2020), which will be finished and published in the near future.
But most importantly, Dr. Shalit, left behind his two beloved daughters: Ilayah and Noa Shalit along with their husbands, Dan Dan Matiuk and Gal Sasson and their five beautiful little boys. He loved his family dearly and was their strong, steady, compassionate and brilliant father and grandfather. As my life partner he was my best friend and the joy of my life. He will be deeply missed by all who were fortunate enough to have known him.
The funeral will take place January 31, 2018 at 11:00am at Menuhat-Olam, Benny W. Reich St. in Netanya. The mourning period (shivah) will take place at Shai Agnon, 34, 2nd Floor Tel Aviv from 10am-1pm and 5pm-9pm.
It is with great sadness that my partner and dear friend, Erel, has passed away today, peacefully and surrounded by me and his loving family. He was 67 years old and suffered from cancer, which he struggled with valiantly for two and a half years. During that time he remained his compassionate, strong, productive and thoughtful self to the end and departed as the special soul he was, in perfect peace.
He was born and raised in Sweden and moved to Israel at 18, the country he loved with great devotion. He returned to Sweden to study for his doctorate in psychology at Uppsala University where he was the youngest psychologist to be granted a Ph.D. in Sweden. With that in hand, he returned to Israel where he joined the army as a psychologist running a mental health clinic on the front lines, helping soldiers avoid the development of PTSD. He continued his reserve duty until 50, and as a member of the Council for Peace and Security, he maintained his hope for a future of peace.
Erel was a Jungian psychoanalyst in Tel Aviv and worked as a training and supervising analyst. He was a past president of the Israel Society of Analytical Psychology and founder and past director of the Jungian Analytical Psychotherapy Program at Bar Ilan University. Earlier in his career he was the director of the Shamai Davidson Community Mental Health Clinic. As part of his professional affiliation, he served as honorary secretary of the Ethics Committee of the International Association of Analytical Psychology (IAAP) and was its liaison with the Bulgarian Jung Society. He loved training young therapists.
He lectured internationally and was a prolific writer. For Erel writing was a passion and a form of poetry, which is clearly evident in his many books, including, The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey, Requiem: A tale of Exile and Return, Enemy, Cripple, and Beggar, The Complex: Paths of transformation from Archetype to Ego. He co-edited, with me, The Dream and its Amplification.
אומר מילים קצרות על חברנו אראל שמת קצת למעלה מחודש, רק קצרות כי החלטנו בישיבת אנליטיקאים להקדיש לו את מפגש מעגן השנה שיתקיים ב-16/17 לנובמבר 2018 , ושם בוודאי נדבר עליו ארוכות.
אוליבר סאקס כתב שכל אדם שמת מותיר אחריו חור שלא ניתן למלא. אף אחד לא יוכל למלא את החור שהשאיר אראל לאחר מותו. בוודאי לא נשכח אותך אראל.