Friday, April 19, 2019

2019 - Wholeness is Holy - A Passover Reflection:

“There is a knife sticking out of my heart and a constant trickle of blood comes out… every so often the knife gets moved, twisted and the blood gushes out. I do my job at work, take care of what I need to at home, do the shopping and the errands and marvel that no one sees that I am leaving a trail of blood behind me.” This is what a woman at a support group meeting said in explaining what it felt like when her child didn’t let her know that she had given birth.

I was facilitating a meeting for parents whose children do not speak to them, either because the courts took their children, or due to alienation. Some of their children are adults and have chosen religion over relationship, worshipping a God that would have people shun each other because of beliefs rather then come together in unity.


As many of us prepare to set the table for tonight’s Seder, or continue this Holy Week into Easter, I am reminded of how many tables will have empty seats. It’s not because these people are no longer on Earth, but because children, grandchildren, parents, or siblings believe or worship differently; leading to a bloody trail of broken hearts, and nobody notices.

What is freedom? Since the meeting I keep turning this question over and over in my mind… Wondering how to alleviate the pain that we as humans inflict on one another. 

I wish I could take the knife out and stop the bleeding, for us as humans to mend the broken fences, heal the wounds and put relationship over religion, love over needing to be right, and compassion over stubbornness.  Perhaps I have become a pessimist with time, but in this moment I don’t see that happening. So I wonder… perhaps freedom is what Dr. Edith Eva Eger writes in her book.  The Choice. Perhaps freedom is embracing our trauma, noticing it, honoring it, talking about it, naming it.  So that when the knife gets twisted or we get another stab, we stop and breathe and notice our own pain. We name it, we watch the blood rushing out and we say to ourselves, “This hurts. This really hurts.” Perhaps we even give ourselves permission to cry, knowing that the pain will move past us, the wave will pass over us and maybe, just maybe, next year we can have Shalom – Wholeness! 

May we be blessed to notice our own wounds, the scabs that form over them, or our own scars.  May we know that when they are poked or prodded they bleed, and we hurt.  May we give each other the space to feel this pain.  May we grant ourselves the compassion and courage to name what hurts us.  Most of all, may we posses the courage to feel and express all of what moves through us hopefully setting us free.

A Nissen Pessach (Yiddish)
Chag Somayach (Hebrew)
Happy Holidays

Saturday, January 19, 2019

2019 - Event Cancelled Tomorrow & Article

Event Cancelled:

Due to inclement weather predicted, the talk on the Process of Change that I was going to give tomorrow, Sunday the 20th at Temple Emeth in Teaneck NJ, has been cancelled,

I have heard from the Temple that many people have registered and am sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused you. I am in conversation with the Temple to see if this can be rescheduled for a different Sunday. Stay Tuned...

Click here for the article written in the Jewish Standard about this talk.

Many blessings!
Chani

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

2019 - Life Happens... The Process of Change

Life Happens... 
The Process of Change, Living Your Authentic Life!

Happy Secular New Year!

A few days ago, I was watching a short clip with Ellen DeGeneres and Sandra Bullock, Bullock was talking about a difficult time she had when her father and her two dogs died within weeks of each other. She said: Life Happens, Whether You Schedule For It Or Not!

It got me thinking about my own life. My concussion in 2017, the doctor’s visits and substantial adjustments to my life that I had to make because of that incident.   It made me reflect on clients’ stories.  It made notice again the unpredictable reality of living. And… it reminded me that I will be speaking on January 27thabout this particular topic in Temple Emett in Teaneck NJ.

What do you do when life happens to you?
How do you deal with the pain, joy, excitement, terror of being in the moment?
What do you do when things around you change?
How do you change the things that are not working for you anymore..
Life happens, whether we schedule for it or not, how do we live authentically through those moments… the moments we didn’t schedule for?
Blessings
Chani

Here is a link to the talk on January 27th!
Here is a link to an article in the Jewish Standard about this event.

Blessings
Chani

Friday, September 7, 2018

2018 - Heeding The Call: A Rosh Hashanah Reflection

The High Holidays are upon us and although I have not kept in touch much (since I am still healing from my concussion) I feel compelled to write something… to share… to connect….

I was asked today, “What is the essence of Rosh Hashana?”  I think that I answer it differently every year, perhaps even every day. This is how I am answering it today.

The part in the prayer service that is unique to Rosh Hashana is the addition within the Musaf prayer (the service that follows the morning prayers). In it we find these 3 central points:
1 -  Malchiyot –Kingship – Anointing God as our king 
2 -  Zichronot – Remembrance – Remember our deep connection to Divine 
3 -  Shofrot – Shofar – The call to connect.

As a child I was taught that there is no king without a kingdom, therefore on the anniversary of the human birth (the 6thday of creation) we humans crown God as our king. We pronounce that loud and clear for all to hear, and we remember that we are God’s subjects; we do that with the blowing of the Shofar.

In today’s day and age, when monarchs are mostly figureheads, what is the essence of Malchiyot? What is the message that we are embracing?

Perhaps on the first day of the New Year we are invited to Remember our shared humanity. As the lyrics of the famous song* "What if God was one of us…  just a stranger on the bus....”  perhaps this new kingdom is God revealing Godself as one of us, a stranger on the bus, all of us, trying to make our way home.

Perhaps we are being asked to step into our humanity, to understand our immense power and our deep vulnerability. To declare all of it, One - To ourselves and to each other. Can we step into the reality that we do not have all the power, do not need to control, and that we are being held by the humanity we share? I believe we can, when we have the courage to REMEMBER to look into each other’s eyes and see ourselves and each other as Divine.  

How do we come together? Perhaps when we hear the call.  Sometimes as a whisper… sometimes the blast of the Shofar. 

May we continue to remember our Humanness– our power and our vulnerability, our shared pain and ability to heal.

As this New Year beckons – let us all be blessed with health, happiness, joy, stability, prosperity, abundance, connection, love and all that we desire.

Shana Tova u’Metuka
k’Siva v’Chasima Toyva
Happy and Healthy Sweet New Year
Chani

*song written by Eric Bazilian and covered by various singers

Thursday, March 29, 2018

2018 - Simplifying Our Lives: A Passover Reflection

It has been 9 months since I was hit in the head through no fault of my own. I have been suffering from Post Concussion Syndrome. My symptoms creep up often and I have no control over when they come, how long or how often they occur. What this situation has birthed is a new me, someone who like our ancestors has picked up and moved into a new unknown land.

In this land of wilderness I am learning a lot… about myself, my family, who my support is, letting go, being gentle with myself, acknowledging my limitations, and most of all, asking for help.

I am still learning about the messiness of living with an injury that no one can see, about the understanding that healing is a lot about finding the right help on this journey where I often take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.

Last week, I had the privilege of participating in a Women’s Seder and witnessing a beautiful exchange:

Rabbi Rachel Steiner asked why we eat Matzo on Passover. Many came up with some insightful answers.  Afterwards, Rabbi Steiner responded something like this. Matzo allows us to let go.  It is the simplest form. It doesn’t rise, it doesn’t puff up, It reminds us what is truly important: to let go of expectation.

I sat back and began to think about this past year… the way I am letting go of the Chometz (leavened bread) in my life. Over and over I am saying “No” to things to which I would have said “Yes.” in the past. I am donating to charity items that I have held onto out of guilt or obligation.

I now guard my energy as the sacred commodity that it is. I am noticing what is important to me. I’m discriminating about what is worthy of my time, attention and space in my mind and in my home. I observe what I can let go of for now, and what and who I need to let go of permanently.  I have been living a life where spiritual “Matzo” is my daily sustenance.

There is a tradition to shake one’s pockets out before Passover, getting rid of all the crumbs that have accumulated in one’s garment over the course of the year. Crumbs, tiny pieces of leavened bread, of puffiness, of making things bigger or more extravagant then they need to be, that have infiltrated into the pockets of our pants, skirts, suits, dresses, jackets and coats.           

What would you like to simplify in your life? How can you incorporate that? What are your crumbs, the tiny pieces that get stuck in places they don’t enrich your life? How can you allow yourself to be more vulnerable with others? How can you be a kinder, gentler, and more loving version to the amazing individual that you are?


 I hope that this year, Passover is all that it needs to be for all of us. May we find a way out of our own Mitzrayim (narrow places). May we let go of the leavenings that weigh us down, and may we shake the crumbs from the places where they have crept into.

Blessings
A Kashering Fraylichen Pessach (Yiddish)
Chag Kosher V’Samayach (Hebrew)
Happy Passover 
and to our friends celebrating Easter, Happy Easter.
Chani

Please feel free to subscribe to my NEW Professional YouTube Channel. I have simplified my marketing too!


Friday, October 27, 2017

2017 - Processing "One of Us"

Processing "One of Us" 

In the days before One of Us premiered, I was fluctuating between apprehension and anticipation. In the days since, I find myself marking the time since the world has had the opportunity to hear and see these stories.


I have been hearing from many of you. Some of you are asking what you can do with your feelings of being triggered by your own experiences so closely related to the ones showcased on the screen.
Some of you are asking how you can help or what you can do.  Even in that question, there is usually a follow up of what do I do with my feelings.
And many are shocked that this is going on in our backyards and we didn’t even know…

First, be kind and gentle with yourself.
This might mean taking a bubble bath
Taking a walk
Going for a run
Writing in your Journal
Meeting a friend for coffee


Share your feelings
Hug each other
And be nice to you.
Most of all, be gentle with yourself and allow your emotions the space they need.
You alone know what you need, please give yourself that gift.

For those of you who want to know how to help; Please Donate to Footsteps.
Footsteps helps many Ettys, Aris and Luzers in all genders and in all stages of their transition.

For those of you who are shocked or appalled by what you have witnessed by watching the film- The sad truth is that there are marginalized communities in all of our backyards! I am so grateful that this film was made so that it can shine a light and expose this particular truth.

How appropriate that this week’s Torah Portion is Parshat Lech Lecha, Genesis 12:1.
Usually translated, “Go forth from your land, from the place that you were born, from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.”
In Hebrew it can mean Lech - “Go!” Le-cha -  “Toward Yourself.”
In other words, go towards YOUR truth, YOUR purpose, and YOUR life.  Even if it means that you are leaving behind your comfort zone, your previous community, your family.

I bless us all to remember that the texts that we grew up, whose meaning was fed to us (and sometimes even forced down our throats) can be redefined by us even as we chart a new course for ourselves.

As we leave our comfort zone, I will share with you the words of a Karen Drucker song:  “I will be gentle with myself, and I will only go as fast as the slowest part of me feels safe to go.”
Please after the release of this documentary – be gentle with yourself and with each other.


I have appointments available, feel free to reach out and schedule some time to talk.
Hope you enjoy the beautiful fall weather.
Shabbat Shalom
201-477-0274

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

2017 - One of Us



"One of Us" 


A new documentary about people leaving insular Hasidic communities.

As someone who is passionate about choice, I was recruited by Footsteps 4 years ago to establish their Rockland Location and Family Justice programs. As someone who was raised and ultimately left my insular Hasidic Community, I was a perfect fit for this role.

In the documentary One of Us, I am featured in my role as counselor. I provide support and guidance to Etty - one of the characters in the film.

Footsteps is an organization now in it’s 14th year, which began with Malky Schwartz, a young woman who left her community and was taken in by a secular grandparent. Recognizing her own vulnerability and how fortunate she was to have someone take her in, she started Footsteps to create spaces for other people like her, to find the support they need.

I myself left the community before Footsteps existed, and I am acutely aware of how different my journey could have been, had Footsteps been around at that time. Therefore I am passionate about and committed to this work alongside my private practice as a Coach, Counselor and Officiant.

I am proud of the work that I do, and I am proud to be a part of this important documentary. The people at Loki Films were extraordinarily mindful of privacy and confidentiality throughout their three years working on this film. Feel free to reach out to me as always, with any thoughts, concerns, feelings or comments.

Once available, I will share a link to some Q&A and discussion topics for people who would like to host a screening in their home, and/or understand more about the work.

The documentary will be shown at a limited number of screenings  and will premier on Netflix after October 20th.

Link to Trailer 


Link to IFC screenings

Link to JCC screening

Link to Footsteps

Link to ONE OF US page