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Posts Tagged ‘actions’

Initial Reflection post last night’s Houston Vigil Against Detention Camps at SW Key:

Last night, I went to an action/vigil against detention centers or what I now choose to call concentration camps. Together I joined hundreds of people in front of the SW Key Juvenile Detention Center in Houston; ironically this center is on a street that was recently renamed Emancipation Ave.

As I stood strong against these centers, I found myself wondering why more of my friends didn’t join me; I do understand some were bound by Jewish law so a Friday night or Saturday vigil is not appropriate for them, but I have been at a bunch of actions and I haven’t been seeing enough of them. If we are supposed to take care of the stranger, the widows, the orphans, the poor, why aren’t more of our faith based leaders and their congregants joining this holy work?

As the evening progressed, I watched as the police officers initially charged at the peaceful activists with their aggressive energy and a bunch of horses too. Watching them, I found myself fully grasping that they were  following orders regardless of their beliefs. Is that what many Nazis did? Follow orders without wondering the full ramifications of what they were responding to. To be clear, the officers were not cruel, they were simply ‘doing their job’ and following orders. But I wonder if they even considered that all of the protesters were feeling deep pain for what brought us to stand for hours to protest how our country is treating refugees and undocumented people.

And finally, I stood in awe of the protesters. People of all ages, backgrounds, and spiritual traditions who stood together chanting, singing, drumming, and sharing their thoughts. The vigil was grounded in values and kindness. People were coming together for love of humanity and anger about how horrific our government is treating those they deem illegal. No human is illegal!

Salas Haider and I

7/12/2019 Houston Vigil Against Detention Camps at SW Key with my beloved tribe including Donna Olson-Salas, Chava Gal-Or, Sarah Haider, Federico Salas-Isnardi  

 

 

 

Deeper Reflections: 

As a young girl, I remember questioning, ‘where were all the Germans when their beloved neighbors were being taken away?’ I also used to question how all of those Nazi soldiers could have been OK with the dehumanization of people. I am still wondering those same questions.

Today, the questions are the similar. Why aren’t more people standing up for humanity?How can the border patrol, police officers, and other ‘professionals’ who work at the Deportation Centers live with themselves? How can we have so many leaders who essentially describe refugees as vermin?

As we watch parts of our government dehumanize those seeking asylum from their own hell, I am wondering why more moral people aren’t standing up against the atrocities we hear about daily in the news? Why aren’t more people actively engaged in loving humanity?

While the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum may demand that people don’t use “Holocaust” terms to describe the current treatment of refugees, I feel certain that many of the “Detention Centers” could be better described as Concentration Camps on a good day. Children have been ripped from their families; families have been separated from their loved ones; there is a shortage of water, beds, food, and all necessities for those that are being detained.

And meanwhile, there are many loving people that are choosing to do little or nothing to help humanity. What’s wrong with this picture? LOTS!!!

A long time ago, I came to understand that I can do many things and some will be done well, some less well. Regardless of the fact that I can’t do it all, humanity always needs me to do as much as I can. That means I can love and care for my family, work for a living, have a nonprofit that helps people, write, paint, and I can still do more than one thing. Babies are in jails instead of being loved and held by their mamas and papas!  And that is not the only issue I care about; I also care about the environment, education, health care, and so much more.

And what angers me more than anything right now is that I have good friends, community members, and neighbors that would probably watch their neighbors be taken to a concentration camp before choosing to show up and defend them. What is their excuse? Work. Family. Hobby. Too much to do to take on one more thing.  Or perhaps they think they can only do one thing at a time. . .  I call BULLSHIT! And I am not talking about my friends who have loved ones who are struggling with health challenges. They need to focus on navigating health challenges. When my sons were critically ill at different times, I also stopped doing what I could to make the world a better place, but as soon as I could, I returned to showing up in the world or at least I really tried.

Young families have their own challenges too. . .I get it. AND I also understand that my own sons learned that I cooked for those who were sick, went on actions for humanity, used to volunteer/sleep at a homeless shelter one night a week throughout the late fall and winter.  My sons understood that I showed up. They also watched their father leave the house to go on volunteer calls with the Red Cross whenever disasters hit our community. Our children can handle us showing up to make the world a better place. In fact, if they see us parents caring deeply, they may even choose to show up themselves. One of mine does; the other, not yet. 

My Past Is Guiding Me:

As a child, my neighbors stood by as I suffered. They did nothing! They heard the screams; they closed the ears. I want to be better than that.

Hineini, Hear I am. Where are you?

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

 

 

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House of Prayer

Prayer grounds me
Prayer gives me hope
Prayer silences my fears
Prayer reminds me
to dwell in community.

When I walk into MY house of prayer,
I feel safe and supported.
My heart beats and I feel inner peace.
With each breath, my being is made more whole.
Chanting and song lift my spirits, always lift my spirit.
And the spiritual teachings give me a foundation to live or space for deep reflection.

I have always loved my House of Prayer, all Houses of Prayer. And yet tonight, I am losing ground. Nine people were murdered in their church in Charleston, SC. They went to their own House of Prayer perhaps for prayer, a special service, a teaching, or a Bible study. Last fall, four men were killed in their synagogue in Jerusalem.

What can I do about hate? Mental illness? What can we do? What is being done?

gun and bulletsWhat can we do about guns? There is too much power behind those that believe that people have the right to protect themselves. Sure they do, but the cost is high so change MUST happen.

Too many people are dying due to the rampage of those that are capable of such atrocities.  Too many have been killed in school, in churches, at work, in a movie theater, on the streets, and at home. Too many people have been murdered. Seriously, it is time for the gun laws to change. Dammit, it has been time.

I try to bring love, light, and blessings into the world. My entire essence is filled with warmth and goodness. I don’t understand hate or mental illness for that matter. What makes people kill someone’s child, parent, friend, or lover? What makes someone destroy another’s heart and soul? In the aftermath of murder, how do survivors find the strength to move forward and strive for tomorrow?

Most people will find a way to gain their footing again, but those that were forced to face the horrific screams, the pain, and the loss will forever be scarred. And the beautiful souls that reach out as first responders, loved ones , neighbors, and strangers. . . .they will also feel the unimaginable darkness.

May our voices come together and our spirits continue to heal the world. May our actions ultimately make a difference for good.

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Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

 

If this is your first time reading this series of my blog, please take a moment and read the introduction Elul Journey: A New Year Is Emerging – 5775  http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is 13 Elul or 17 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  While it is not easy to navigate life’s journeys, I always get to decide how to approach my life.  In this moment, I am choosing to walk gently and embrace each step with openness.  As I say this, I also realize that this would be a good time for a reality check.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

~ ~ ~

“You never know when one act, or one word of encouragement can change a life forever.” 
Quote by Zig Ziglar

~ ~ ~

Everything we do matters; everything we say can make a difference.  Whether our actions are with our hands, our hearts, or our words, we have the capability to positively touch the world we live.

In the last 9 months, I have been a caregiver to many different people.  Some have memory loss challenges, some are in their final hours of life, and others have significant physical limitations.  All were once healthy; all are now hurting emotionally and physically.  For each of these people, I have learned that my positive energy really matters.  When I am sad or lost, I need to put those feelings on a shelf and focus on being present and lifting their spirits. This same experience has been obvious when I directed a school.  Children, their families, and other professional staff are conduits for the surrounding energy.

Decide to walk in the world with a love in your heart, gentleness in your spirit, and a desire to impact people for good.  And in the end of the day, do whatever it takes to make that happen.

With blessings & light,
Chava

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Living life actively is what I do, but at the same time I have always tended to play it safe within certain parameters.  At least I did until my job situation changed and I had no choice; I had to face my deepest fears.

Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.  ~Jim Morrison

On December 16 of this past year, I was called into my executive director’s office at work.  My job had been cut to half-time. The congregation I was working with lost members and our school lost students.  Initially, I was stunned, never had I heard of a Jewish Educator going to half-time mid-year.

Instead of licking my wounds, I started really thinking about what I wanted with my life. Did I want to remain in Jewish Education? Did I want to stay in Tucson or move closer to the water? Could I find a way to focus on ways to grow while also sustaining myself financially.  There was and still is so much to consider.  The questions I was asking myself were endless.

What I had initially decided is that I wasn’t ready to push myself hard to find the ‘right’ position, I needed some time to breathe deeply and consider what I really wanted to do.  And the good news is that while I now had no health insurance, I did have a half-time salary.  Even with everything being strained financially, I was willing to take the time to seek the best working environment for me by deciding what I needed to best thrive in a new work environment.

As the days of my new work situation turned into weeks, and then months, I have been allowing myself the quiet time to figure out what would be next.  I interviewed for new positions and learned how to live with less; I grew angry for what I was enduring and I let the anger go.  I allowed myself to take this journey with few preconceived notions.  I wasn’t sure how I would emerge from where I was; I am still not sure how I will emerge, but I will.

There was and still is a thrill in learning how to live with less and accepting help.  From the beginning, I thought about my needs and wants, my space and how I craved simplicity.  And then my son Aryeh found a job and helped financially.  And then a friend gave me a job as a care-giver for the agency she worked; this allowed me to supplement my income.  When my car broke down, a friend lend me part of the money to fix it and when I was short the rent money one month, it showed up as a gift.  I am still reflecting and learning how to deal with where I am today.

Torrey Pines State Reserve Photo courtesy of David Davidson

Photo courtesy of David Davidson: Torrey Pines State Reserve

The Journey continues. . . .

And then in April or May I learned that the congregation that moved me from Washington, DC to Tucson two years ago could no longer afford me.  Effective June 1st, I was no longer employed as a Jewish Educator.  I had no guaranteed income and I had lost my community.

While I was aware that I could lose my position, I was also hopeful that I could continue working part time as the Youth Education Director.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, the congregation said that they couldn’t afford my salary.  The new reality made it time to figure out the next chapter and quick (or maybe not so quick).

Moving forward is not optional.  Choosing to find light in the dark moments propels me to soar.  Allowing myself time to ask some important questions as I make this new reality work is scary, but feels wise too. With each day, I choose to celebrate the blessings that always surround me. My friends, far and near, have never wavered in their support; the desert mountains and the magnificent skies nurture my spirit even though I miss the ocean.

And in this moment, I am blessed to be working as a care-giver with some amazing people and earlier this week a friend gave me a short-term  freelance job within Jewish education. I seem to be staying afloat for the most part.

Reality 

From the moment I was given my walking papers from the temple, I was forced to look at my deepest fears directly.  As a result, I have always been terrified of not having the money I need to sustain my family with even their most basic needs.  Growing up without healthy food or the clothing appropriate for a girl in the suburbs was hard.   And for the first time in my adult life, I know that I there are times when I may not afford  rent, utilities, or basic necessities.  If something goes wrong, I will not have what I need to make things work.  And yet, I am blessed with friends and a belief that all will ultimately be good.

As a young teenager, my family  didn’t have enough food and the fear of foreclosure was constantly looming. Potential homelessness was a possibility then and now it is again.  And while it would be easier if I lived on the east coast because we do have friends there that would shelter us, my guess is that I have friends in Tucson too.  The beauty of where I am today is that I am beginning to heal from the experiences of my youth; I also realize that I have more tools now.  I understand what it means to thrift shop, borrow, and cook from scratch.  As a child, I really didn’t have the tools to help myself.  And today, I have something I never had before, I have friends and loved ones that are there for me and I am able to find the gifts within the challenges.

I am no stranger to financial struggles, as a Jewish professional (not clergy), I have always just made it financially. And when my children suffered health crises, we sometimes didn’t know how we would afford even their most basic needs. Yet, in the end, all of our needs and many of our wants have always been met often with the help of friends.  For me, darkness always turns into light.

What’s next?

I want to live consciously in all areas of my life.  Being authentic matters whether it is with people, my environment, or the larger world.  My words and my actions should support my beliefs and my spirit.

My foundation is what it is because of the role Judaism has had in my life.  The teachings have given me the wisdom to grow and the room to wrestle. Doors have opened to me because of my many interactions with the social actions of my previous communities.  When one door opens, I often find many other doors ajar.  Some I will go through; some I will not. I am who I am because I listened to the values of my faith and used it as a springboard to move me through life and learning from others.

So now, I have to figure out how to have a career that either nurtures who I am and/or allows me the time to make a positive impact within the world I live.  My hope is that I can do both. I love people and working with people; I also love the idea of working behind the scenes to get things done.  Even though, I have only really worked within the Jewish community, it doesn’t mean that I have to stay there. I have learned so many skills that can take me wherever I go.  I really am looking forward to the next chapter and hoping that it allows me the room to be creative either on or off the job.

My purchases should be mindful of the people and the physical planet I live; my interactions with family, friends, and others should always be sweet and caring.  Living in the world means I have a responsibility for walking gently and lovingly with each step and with each word.  Everything I do matters.

Today, I am considering ways to ignite my non-profit organization, find or create a meaningful work environment, taking time to write, and living into the answers of my many questions.  Today I am fully embracing life.

Each step in this 8 month journey has been scary. Yet it is also exciting to explore what is now meaningful to me and how I will afford my needs for now and into the future.  I don’t have all the answers, but I know that I am trusting the universe and doing what I need to do to move forward.

May today and every day lead us beyond our fears and towards freedom.

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Tonight we counted Day 46 of the Omer, which is 6 weeks and four days of the counting. Day 46 is referred to as Netzach sheh b’Malkhut,  Endurance within our kingdom.  A beautiful kingdom is one that is blessed with Shekhinah’s presence.  Only when God or godliness dwells where people are, is it possible for a malkhut or ’kingdom’ to exist.

Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.~Dalai Lama

ripples[1]

Most everything we do matters.  Sometimes what we do touches people for years to come; sometimes we have no idea about how our words or actions affect others.   Perhaps all of us could learn to navigate a little more gently.

Below are two personal stories to illustrate this truth:

  • When I was a little girl my neighbor nurtured my love of writing by encouraging me as a writer and by helping me create little books of my writing.  With Mrs. Beiner as a mentor I am feeling the ripple effect to this day.
  • In college, I took a graduate level writing class.  After my second or third day of the semester, the professor told me that I should forget writing because I had no talent.  The moment he spoke, I gave up writing for nearly 15 years.

With each breath may we remember that our words and actions matter.

Shabbat Shalom

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Last night, we counted Day 14 of the Omer, which is 2 weeks of the counting of the Omer.  We refer to today as Malchut she-b’Gevurah; the powerful essence within strength.

When we stand strong firm with our  powerful spirits, we are in a place of strength.  Living honestly and with integrity takes courage.  My hope for each of us is that we listen to the inner voices that guides us.

Arms spread

Each time we stand with a willingness to live within our own individual powers, we are in a place of strength.  Openly possessing and exhibiting this power can lead to doing profound good not only for individual selves, but for those the world we live in too.  Only when we listen to that inner voice can we touch the world for good through our thoughts and actions.

Recently, I experienced a brief conversation in which an friend tried to convince me that when the majority of good people respond according to what they believe, it must be a good or correct choice.  We would all love to have the majority’s opinions guide our lives, but jumping on the bandwagon is not always the right choice.  As someone who buys only fair-trade chocolate, never shops at  Walmart, and who constantly considers my carbon footprint, I know what it is like to stand within my power to make  what I perceive to be good decisions.  I also know that not everyone thinks as I do.   Over time, I have observed how people slowly entertain making similar  choices for how they move within the world.  Only through action, can we begin to stand within our own strength and with the possibility to make a difference.

May each of us live within our powers so that we can stand strong wherever our journeys take us.

 

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Would you prefer to continue limping, or are you ready to remove the stone from your shoe?~ Susan Scott, “Fierce Conversations”

We all have things in our lives that need our attention; most of us procrastinate doing the things that are a little awkward, a little less enticing.  A chore, a conversation, a long overdue visit to someone in our lives.  Life is full of opportunities and with that comes a To Do List that can feel overwhelming.  Metaphorically, there is always a pebble that needs to be removed from your shoe.

Nike, the shoe manufacturing company said it right when they started using the slogan Just Do It.  Those three words say it all.

  • Instead of thinking about the tasks you must accomplish – Just Do It
  • Instead of thinking about the challenging conversation you have to have with someone – Just Do It
  • Instead of putting off a visit with someone that you really want or need to see – Just Do It.

There are so many tasks that need our attention; There are so many words that need to be spoken; there are so many people in our lives that need our attention.  The list of what we want and need to accomplish goes on and on, but unless we take the necessary steps to get things done they won’t get done.

Opportunities are there for when we have them and sometimes we lose precious opportunities through procrastination.  We also take an inordinate amount of time and mental space thinking about our long To Do List.  Unless you take the rock out of shoe, you really can’t move forward comfortably.  Maybe it is time to take Nike’s words to heart.

Just Do It.

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