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Archive for August, 2010

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. – Martin Luther King Jr., 1929-1968

Each of us has a threshold of what we consider to be acceptable.  In some ways I am so accepting and mellow and then a moment occurs when I have to question whether my voice should have remained silent.  Have you ever spoken when you should have remained silent? Have you ever spoken from your heart and soul and had it trampled on by the person you were hoping would hear your voice.  Rarely have I ever wondered if my voice was worthy of the words being spoken, but last Sunday left me questioning my thoughts, my voice, and my actions.

Over 60 years ago, Hitler orchestrated the killing of millions of people; Jews suffered, as did the entire human race.  Last Sunday, my husband Michael and I finally felt that my boys were ready to go to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  My children are both teenagers, wise and thoughtful in every way that counts.  They were ready to face the atrocities of the Nazis and all who supported them through both their actions and inactions.

As we entered the museum, we were amazed at how many people felt compelled to be there.  Although seeing at least five families with toddlers or young children perplexed us.  As both a parent and an educator, I was a little speechless at seeing such young children at the USHMM.  How could anyone bring a toddler to witness the heinous acts of the Nazis? How could people subject their young children to the dark energy that surrounds this particular memorial? I don’t understand and it made my entire family uncomfortable.  Of course this is coming from the person that waited until both of my children were teenagers to go to the Holocaust Museum with them.

One of the families, allowed their child to run around the museum like it was a playground.  I found myself voicing my thoughts aloud to my own family on more than one occasion.  My own kids were fairly incredulous at the toddler.  All of us were wise enough to realize that the toddler was being a child.  Children are supposed to treat the entire world as a playground.  But as adults, it is our job to allow our children to explore suitable playgrounds that surround their world.

At one particular moment, I watched the child pointing to a photo of people on the second floor of the museum.  The child was selecting which people were boys and which people were girls.  Each and every one of the people were emaciated and difficult to view because of their condition.  At that point, Michael decided to go and speak to the parents of this toddler in a reflective way.   Both of the parents became loud and abusive in how they responded.  My husband felt physically threatened although no punches were thrown.

After the couple was done yelling at Michael, they came looking for THAT MAN’S WIFE.  It was quite an interesting altercation.  The toddler’s mom asked if I was that man’s wife and I quietly responded that I was.   She then asked me if I agreed with my husband.  I warmly responded that in fact I absolutely agreed with his wisdom.  The words spoken by her were less than appropriate to repeat, but you can imagine the scene.

Upon reflection, I realize many things. Perhaps I should have

  • spoken sooner and not under my breath like I originally did.
  • asked that someone from the professional staff of the museum to talk to the couple.
  • stood near my husband instead of giving him the space to be thoughtful in how he maneuvered the situation.
  • kept my mouth quiet.

There are so many ways I could have responded.  I can see each side with clarity and all sides have wisdom.  I do not believe in being silent when I see something disturbing.  I believe that “it takes a village” to raise children.  Much of the time, I appreciate others sharing their wisdom even when they are questioning my parenting -though, not always ☺.  When it comes to children I feel strongly about what constitutes good parenting.  I also know that my opinions are my opinions and while I have the right to my thoughts, others have the right to their thoughts too.  For the most part, people have the right to raise their children how they feel is best.  Physical abuse is never OK, but so many other behaviors are fine even if I don’t agree with how some parents choose to raise their kids.

Tomorrow I will call the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum so that I can ask some policy questions.  I will try to figure out if I can make a difference in the future.  We were blessed to have one staff member approach my husband at some point and offer assistance.  The question remains, how can the policy be changed and do I have a right to even move forward with trying to make a change?   As someone who saw violence as a young child, I feel compelled to voice my concerns and perhaps do what I can to make a difference for the future.

Should I have kept my mouth shut? I don’t think so. . . .  Instinctively, I feel like we Michael and I were wise, but perhaps not so much. . . . . .
PS- My children, Aryeh and Dovi, were amazing throughout this experience and the conversations that followed showed their wisdom and their thoughtfulness.  Growing up, no matter how old we are, can always be filled with questions and perhaps some insightful moments too.

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Reflection is what I do.   Very few things occur without my considering what it means or thinking about the outcomes of my actions.  Fourteen or so years ago, I taught for a Jewish Day School principal who made each and every one of his teachers begin their lesson plan with, “Begin with the end in mind”.  I have never read Stephen Covey, but I believe that saying originated with him.  At that time I found that phrase to be painful in every way.  Nearly fourteen years later, I value that saying and all it offers me.

Within that saying, I am able to find balance in so much of what I do because I have a perspective of why I do the things I do.  My goal is to fill my life in with that which makes me spiritually and physically healthy.  If I truly want to be healthy, I have to be able to see the big picture and move towards the big picture even when the process has some challenging moments.

As I open my eyes each morning, I welcome the possibilities that exist.  My heart races in anticipation of the beauty that exists within me and around me.  Rarely do I wake up with a scowl on my face and darkness within my heart.  I know that each and every moment will be filled with gifts and sometimes challenges, but my hope and prayer is that I approach my daily journey in the most positive way.

The key to life is being open to live it fully.  I say this knowing that life doesn’t always give me what I want.  Even so I have a choice; I always have a choice.  Do I move through the challenges knowing that I can find peace even within the depths of darkness?  The answer is an unquestionable yes!!!!  Even in darkness, I can find a moment of light if I look for it.  I also realize that it is within each and every one of us to find the light.

When I was touched by tragedy and profound pain, I didn’t necessarily see the light so clearly, but I was usually able to be grateful for some aspect of what was happening.  Pain is always a challenge; loss is filled with pain.  But even within life’s pain, I cannot survive without believing that there is a particle of light surrounding me at any given moment.

‘Begin(ning)with the end in mind’ means that even as I have interactions that are less than what I’d like, it is my goal to move into those interactions with a full desire to make them the best that they can be.  Each and every journey I take is filled with choices.  Sometimes the choices are easy to make; sometimes the choices are less than easy.  But each word I utter and each action I do is most often filled with an awareness of what I hope will be accomplished.

The blessing of moving through my life today with people that I love is that now that I have a family of choice, I am filled with love and warmth for so many people.  I really have learned to “begin with the end in mind.”

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Doorways

Doorways

Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.

If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.

Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.

If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily
to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely

but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?

The door itself
makes no promises.
It is only a door.

By:Adrienne Rich

Endless possibilities come with each and every step.  With each breath, I find myself breathing in the light as I breathe out the excesses in my life.  My prayer is to find balance as I reach for the goals and visualize each and every one of my desires.

In The Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks, the reader is encouraged to pursue a Creative Workshop Process in which we very deliberately visualize that which we want for our lives.  What colors do you want in your home? What would you like to drive? Where would you like to live? What would it look like for you to be a spiritual being? How do you see yourself in this world?

With each question, I am guided to seek the answers that resonate in my soul.  I am beginning to honor all the visions that are inside my soul.  I am hungry to allow my desires to take root and grow strong as I grow stronger.  My heart beats stronger with each honest interaction and with each step I take into the world that I want to create for myself.

This past week, I took a step into the world of the Davening Leadership Training Institute with Rabbis Marcia Prager and Shawn Zevit, along with Hazzan Jack Kessler and Daniel Sheff.  Each of my teachers and their 62 students helped strengthen my roots.  I learned about easing into transition and snydering (cutting back my words).  Those two teachings are powerful tools for life, not just leading prayer services.  Mostly I learned to treasure the pearls of wisdom that surrounded me at every step.

As I approach my life’s continuous journey, I visualize that I am blessed to step through many doorways and touch many lives as those lives touch me.  When the journey feels lonely, all I have to do is remember that I have a strong foundation of loving friends all over the world to hold me.

May each of us take the steps we need to take to be the best we can be!

With love, light, and blessings,

Chava

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