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GEWIRTZ

February 26, 2013

JoAn Luban Gewirtz, clinical psychotherapist and devoted mother, passed away on January 10. Born in Seattle, Washington on May 6, 1928 to Joseph and SARA LUBAN.  JoAn moved to New York and graduated from Brooklyn College. She then won a scholarship to Columbia University to begin graduate work in her field, with the expressed goal of helping others who are in emotional pain. She married, put her career on hold to raise 3 children, fulfilling her dream of motherhood, and continuing her distinguished lineage dating back to the Vilna Gaon. Thereafter, she completed a Master's Degree at Bryn Mawr College, and co-authored a thesis entitled, “THE FORGOTTEN POPULATION: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF CHILDREN BROUGHT FOR PSYCHIATRIC TREATMENT AND THEIR SIBLINGS.” It was a seminal investigation exploring the need of therapy for siblings of the child initially brought for treatment, to better diagnose and treat the emotional dynamics of the family. She became a licensed clinical psychotherapist. Her career took her to staff positions with several area mental health agencies, including the esteemed Irving Schwartz Institute - Child Guidance Clinic, where she practiced individual and group psychotherapy with children and parents, supervised graduate students from Bryn Mawr College in their field work, and conducted training seminars in individual therapy for psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists and social workers. She also maintained an enduring private clinical practice, helping individuals, couples, entire families, and conducted group therapy sessions. JoAn was the recipient of academic and professional honors, including The Legion of Honor Award, by The Chapel of Four Chaplains for “Service above and beyond the requirements of your profession.” She was also a published poet, whose work appears in Voices Israel, several poetry anthologies, and her own book, “FINDING EACH OTHER.” A major theme in her poetry can be found in an excerpt from her poem, “IF EVER TO CARE:” “We must set aside our presumptions/ If ever we are to hear/ If ever we are to understand/ If ever we are to ease another's pain … And unlock our hearts/ If ever/ We are/ To care!” This philosophy also informed her work as a psychotherapist and as a mother. Always a concerned, compassionate, and loving person, she will be deeply and gratefully remembered by her family, friends and many former clients. Preceded in death by her beloved daughter, Shelly Ruth, she is survived by two devoted sons, Jerry Gewirtz, Chief Assistant City Attorney for Tampa, Florida and Laurence Gewirtz, a Professor at New York University and Artistic Director of a theater company in New York City; and 2 brothers, Rabbi Haim Luban of Jerusalem and Marshall Luban, Ph.D., former Chair, Dept. of Physics at Bar-Ilan and Iowa State universities. Contributions “in memory of JoAn Gewirtz” may be made to any of the worthy funds c/o Har Zion Temple, 1500 Hagys Ford Rd., Penn Valley, PA 19072. or to The Philadelphia Community Kollel, 364 Montgomery Ave., Merion Station, PA 19066.

 

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