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Abraham J. Twerski
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Twerski in 2011
Abraham Joshua Heshel Twerski

(1930-10-06)October 6, 1930
Died January 31, 2021 (aged 90)
Hadassah Ein Karem Medical Center
Jerusalem, Israel
  • Hebrew Theological College
  • Marquette University
Occupation Psychiatrist
  • Golda (deceased)
  • Gail Bessler (until his death)
Children 4
Relatives Aaron Twerski (brother)

Abraham Joshua Heshel Twerski (אברהם יהושע העשיל טווערסקי, Hebrew & Yiddish); (1930-10-06)October 6, 1930 – January 31, 2021(2021-01-31) ) was an Israeli-American Hasidic rabbi, a scion of the Chernobyl Hasidic dynasty, and a psychiatrist.

Early life and education

Abraham Joshua Twerski was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His parents were Devorah Leah (née Halberstam; 1900–1995), daughter of the second Rebbe of Bobov, and Rabbi Jacob Israel Twerski (1898–1973), who was the rabbi of Beth Jehudah synagogue in Milwaukee. The elder Rabbi Twerski immigrated to America in 1927, and was a descendant of Rabbi Menachem Nachum Twerski, the founder of the Chernobyl Hasidic dynasty, and a student of the Baal Shem Tov. Twerski was the third of five brothers. His two older brothers were Shloime and Motel, and his two younger brothers were twins, Aaron and Michel.

He attended public high school in Milwaukee, and graduated at age 16. He enrolled in the Hebrew Theological College of Chicago (now located in Skokie, Illinois) and was ordained a rabbi in 1951. He worked with his father as assistant rabbi. In 1952 he married Goldie Flusberg. In 1953 Twerski enrolled at Milwaukee's Marquette University, and subsequently graduated from its medical school in 1960. He received his psychiatric training at the University of Pittsburgh, and spent an additional two years on the staff of a state hospital in Pennsylvania. He was then asked to become the department head of psychiatry at Pittsburgh's St. Francis Hospital.



Rabbi Twerski's medical career includes Gateway Rehabilitation Center, Pittsburgh, which he founded and served as medical director emeritus, clinical director of the Department of Psychiatry at St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine, and founder of the Shaar Hatikvah rehabilitation center for prisoners in Israel.

Rabbinic career

In his rabbinic career Rabbi Twerski was a prolific writer of Jewish books and of shiurim (Torah-themed lectures). He was co-spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Jehudah with his father from ordination until 1959. During this time he composed a melody for the Hebrew verse Psalms 28:9 "Hoshea es Amecha," which became popular in Jewish circles. The song became especially popular in the Lubavitch community, after the Lubavitcher Rebbe sang it at a farbrengen.

Rabbi Twerski on Twelve Steps and Jewish ethics

Much of his popular writing concerned self-improvement and ethical behavior. He merged mussar (Jewish ethics and morality movement) with the Twelve-Step Program and ideas from clinical psychology.

Rabbi Twerski's reinterpretation of mussar "depends fundamentally on psychological categories in spite of his rejection of psychoanalysis as a therapeutic tool."

Personal life

Rabbi A.J. Twerski retired from full-time work in 1995, and moved to Monsey, New York, where his second wife, Gail was from. After about ten years in Monsey, they moved to Teaneck, New Jersey. Rabbi Twerski finally moved to Israel with his wife, and called for his fellow Jews to do the same.

His brothers are Aaron Twerski, the Irwin and Jill Cohen Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, as well as a former Dean and Professor of tort Law at Hofstra University Law School; Rabbi Michel Twerski, the Hornosteipler Rebbe of Milwaukee; the late Shloime Twerski, the previous Hornosteipler Rebbe of Denver; and the late Mordechai Dov Ber Twerski of New York. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Twerski died in Jerusalem on January 31, 2021, of COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel. He was survived by his wife Dr. Gail Twerski, three sons and one daughter, and grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

In his will he specified that he did not want there to be eulogies at his funeral, but rather instead for his children to sing the song he composed, "Hoshia es Amecha", as they led his body to his grave.


He wrote over 90 books on Judaism and self-help topics, including several books with Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts comic strips used to illustrate human interaction and behavior.

  • Alive! : A 10-step Guide to a Vibrant life, with Mordechai Weinberger (Shaar Press, 2015)
  • Angels Don't Leave Footprints: Discovering What's Right With Yourself (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2001)
  • Compulsive Gambling: More Than Dreidel (Mirkov Publications, 2006)
  • Coping With Stress: The 9/11 Generation (Gateway Rehabilitation Center, 2002, 35 pp.)
  • Dear Rabbi, Dear Doctor: The Renowned Rabbi-Psychiatrist Gives Straight Answers to Tough Questions (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2005)
  • Dear Rabbi, Dear Doctor Volume 2: The Renowned Rabbi-Psychiatrist Gives Straight Answers to Tough Questions (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2007)
  • Dearer Than Life: Making Your Life More Meaningful (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1997)
  • Do Unto Others: How Good Deeds Can Change Your Life (Andrews McMeel, 1997)
  • Effective Living : An Upbeat and Uplifting Life Can be Yours (Shaar Press / Mesorah Publications, 2014)
  • The Enemy Within: Confronting your Challenges in the 21st Century (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2001)
  • The First Year of Marriage: Enhancing the Success of Your Marriage Right from the Start—and Even Before it Begins (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2004)
  • Forgiveness : Don't Let Resentment Keep You Captive (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2012)
  • A Formula for Proper Living : Practical Lessons from Life and Torah (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2009)
  • Four Chassidic Masters: the Heart, the Mind, the Eye, and the Tongue—History, Stories, Teachings (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2008)
  • From Bondage to Freedom: the Passover Haggadah with a Commentary Illuminating the Liberation of the Spirit, with Hirsh Michel Chinn and Benzion Twerski (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1995, 2001)
  • From Pulpit to Couch (Mirkov publications, 2005)
  • Generation to Generation: Personal Recollections of a Chassidic Legacy (Traditional Press, 1986. Excerpted edition pub. by C.I.S., 2003)
  • Getting Up When You're Down: A Mature Discussion of an Adult Malady - Depression and Related Conditions (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1997)
  • Gevurah : My Life, Our World, and the Adventure of Reaching 80, (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2010)
  • Growing Each Day (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2004)
  • Happiness and the Human Spirit: The Spirituality of Becoming the Best You Can Be (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2007)
  • Healing from Despair : Choosing Wholeness in a Broken World, with Elie Kaplan Spitz and Erica Shapiro Taylor (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2010)
  • I Am I: a Jewish Perspective From the Case Files of an Eminent Psychiatrist (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1993)
  • I'd Like to Call for Help, but I Don't Know the Number: The Search for Spirituality in Everyday Life (Pharos Books, 1991; Henry Holt, 1996)
  • I Didn't Ask to Be in This Family: Sibling Relationships and How They Shape Adult Behavior and Relationships, with Charles M. Schulz (Henry Holt, 1996)
  • I Didn't Ask to Be in This Family: Sibling Relationships and How They Shape Adult Relationships (Topper Books, 1992)
  • In-Laws: It's All Relative, with Leah Shifrin Averick (The Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2009)
  • I've Gotta Get Out of My Way! : Eliminating the Obstacles to Success (Mekor Press / Menucha Publishers, 2017)
  • It Happens to Doctors, Too (Hazelden Foundation, 1982)
  • It's Not As Tough As You Think: How to Smooth Out Life's Bumps (The Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1999)
  • It's Not As Tough At Home As You Think: Making Family Life at Home Smoother and Better (The Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1999)
  • Let Us Make Man: Self-esteem Through Jewishness (C.I.S, 1991)
  • Letters to my Children (Shaar Press / Mesorah Publications, 2015)
  • Life's Blessings : The Meaning and Significance of our Berachos (The Shaar Press, 2015)
  • Life's Too Short: Pull the Plug on Self-defeating Behavior and Turn On the Power of Self-esteem (St. Martin's Press, 1995)
  • Light At the End of the Tunnel: An Inspirational Story Fiction. (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2003)
  • Lights Along the Way: Timeless Lessons for Today from Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto's Mesillas Yesharim (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1995)
  • Like Yourself: And Others Will, Too (Prentice-Hall, 1978, 1986)
  • Living Each Day (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1988, 5th ed. 2003)
  • Living Each Week (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1992)
  • Messages From The Mishnah (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2013)
  • Not Just Stories: The Chassidic Spirit Through Its Classic Stories (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1997)
  • Overcoming Burnout: Recognizing, Addressing and Preventing Burnout - in Yeshivah, the Workplace, and Beyond, with Alon Gul (Lakewood NJ: Israel Bookshop Publications, 2013)
  • Positive Parenting: Developing Your Child's Potential, with Ursula Verena Schwartz (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1996)
  • A Practical Guide to Rabbinic Counseling, with Yisrael N Levitz (Feldheim, 2005; Jewish Lights Publishing, 2012)
  • Prayerfully Yours: Creating the Bond Between Man and His Maker (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2001)
  • The Problem Was Me : How to End Negative Self-talk and Take Your Life to a New Level, with Thomas Gagliano (Gentle Path Press, 2011)
  • The Rabbi & the Nuns : The Inside Story of a Rabbi's Therapeutic Work With the Sisters of St. Francis, (Mekor Press / Menucha Publishers, 2013)
  • Rebbes and Chassidim: What They Said - What They Meant (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2000)
  • Seek Sobriety, Find Serenity: Thoughts for Every Day (Pharos Books, 1993; Feldheim Publishers 2014)
  • Seize the Moments: Captivating Nuggets of Torah Wisdom (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2011)
  • Self-Discovery in Recovery (Hazelden Foundation, 1984; Harper & Row, 1989)
  • Self-improvement? I'm Jewish! : Overcoming Self-defeating Behavior (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1995)
  • The Shabbos Companion: Customs, Prayers, Stories, Zemiros : Shabbos Day (The Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2008)
  • The Shabbos Companion: Customs, Prayers, Stories, Zemiros : Shabbos Eve (The Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2007)
  • Simchah: It's Not Just Happiness (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2006)
  • Smiling Each Day (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1993, 4th ed. 2003)
  • The Spiritual Self: Reflections on Recovery and God (Hazelden Foundation, 2000)
  • Stepping Out of the Abyss : a Jewish Guide to the 12 Steps, Menachem Poznanski, Aryeh Buchsbayew, and Abraham J Twerski (Mosaica Press, 2017)
  • Successful Relationships at Home, at Work and with Friends: Bringing Control Issues under Control (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2003)
  • The Sun will Shine Again : Coping, Persevering, and Winning in Troubled Economic Times (The Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2009)
  • A Taste of Nostalgia : Tales and Recipes to Nourish Body and Soul, with Judi Dick (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2006)
  • Ten Steps To Being Your Best: a Practical Handbook to Enhance Your Life in Every Way (The Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2004)
  • Teshuvah Through Recovery : Experience the Transformative Power of the Twelve Steps (Mekor Press, 2016)
  • That's Not a Fault...It's a Character Trait (St. Martin's Press, 1999)
  • The Thin You Within You: Winning the Weight Game with Self-Esteem (St. Martin's Press, 1997)
  • Twerski on Chumash (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2003)
  • Twerski on Machzor : Rosh Hashanah (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2011)
  • Twerski on Machzor : Yom Kippur (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2012)
  • Twerski on Prayer: Creating the Bond Between Man and His Maker, a re-issue of Prayerfully Yours (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2004)
  • Twerski On Spirituality (Shaar Press / Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1998)
  • Visions of the Fathers Pirkei Avos (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 1999, 2005)
  • Waking Up Just In Time : A Therapist Shows How to Use The Twelve-Steps Approach to Life's Ups And Downs, with Charles M. Schulz (Topper Books, 1990; St. Martins Press, 1995)
  • When Do the Good Things Start?, with Charles M. Schulz (Topper Books, 1988; St. Martins Press, 1995)
  • Who Says You're Neurotic: How to Avoid Mistaken Psychiatric Diagnoses When the Problem May Be a Physical Condition (Prentice-Hall, 1984)
  • Wisdom Each Day (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2000)
  • Without a Job, Who Am I?: Rebuilding Your Self When You've Lost Your Job, Home, or Life Savings (Hazelden Foundation, 2009)
  • The Zeide Reb Motele: The Life of the Tzaddik R'Mordechai Dov of Hornosteipel (Artscroll Mesorah Publications, 2002)

See also

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