Psychiatrist and rabbi probe Islamophobia and anti-Semitism | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Psychiatrist and rabbi probe Islamophobia and anti-Semitism


A Jewish psychiatrist and a rabbi – a father and son duo – will give a talk on their respective books, one on Islamophobia and the other on anti-Semitism, Tuesday, April 9 at 7 p.m. at Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer Ave.

This event is a “rare opportunity to see how the two subject matters overlap,” said Dr. H. Steven Moffic, a psychiatrist for 45 years.

Dr. Moffic is a co-editor of the book “Islamophobia and Psychiatry: Recognition, Prevention, and Treatment.” It is a scholarly book, with color images and original artwork, he said. The textbook was edited by an interfaith team of psychiatrists, including two Muslim psychiatrists and a Christian psychiatrist.

The partnership “worked so well,” he said.

Two-thirds of the chapters in the book were written by Muslim psychiatrists, Dr. Moffic said.

His son, Rabbi Evan Moffic of Congregation Solel in a Chicago suburb, wrote “First the Jews: Combatting the World’s Longest-Running Hate Campaign.” Rabbi Moffic has seen anti-Semitism, “on the frontlines—people in my congregation who are concerned about it,” he said.

Rabbi Moffic does interfaith work throughout the country, making speeches at churches, companies and conferences.

“Anti-Semitism has made a resurgence in the U.S. and it’s scary,” he said.

Anti-Semitism is not just a political, religious and social problem, but a psychological problem, Rabbi Moffic said. “In life, people look for scapegoats. Throughout history, people have blamed the Jews,” he said.

From a psychiatrist’s viewpoint, Muslims go through “micro-traumas” when they are “not treated as normal citizens,” Dr. Moffic said.

Fox Point native Rabbi Evan Moffic held a book talk at a Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center Tapestry event at Boswell Book Company, 2559 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee, in 2017. Here, Evan’s father, Steve Moffic at left, poses with him. Evan at the time was promoting his book, “The Happiness Prayer: Ancient Jewish Wisdom for The Best Way to Live Today.” Photo by Susie Pittleman.

Islamophobia does not fall under the diagnostic classification of phobias. People suffering from this psychological condition have a substantial fear of Muslims and Islam and “it is not good for people who have that over-reaction,” Dr. Moffic said.

Dr. Moffic considers Islamophobia to be a “social-psychological problem,” as it can be present in a large group of people, he said.

In the field of psychiatry, “what you learn about how people think and act and feel — you can apply that to everybody in society,” he said.