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Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Shefa Gold’

וּמָתוֹק, הָאוֹר; וְטוֹב לַעֵינַיִם, לִרְאוֹת אֶת-הַשָּׁמֶשׁ.
And the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing
it is for the eyes to behold the sun.
[Kohelet 11:7]

sunset beginning bay

South Padre Island Sunset January 2019

As a seeker, I often look for meaning in all that is happening within me and around me. I take horrible moments and make them a little easier to stomach by re-framing them and finding the gifts within the challenges. I find the light even within the darkest moments.

Maybe that is why I changed my name so many years ago. My last name means ‘wave of light’. Waves could be disturbing, but they also propel us towards change whether it be in the ocean or in life. And as long as you can find the ‘light’ anything is possible.

Lately I have been drawn to the AWESOME power of choosing life with all of it’s moving parts. Life is really hard sometimes. Reality can be daunting when you open your eyes in the morning. Sometimes we have to make hard decisions when there is no right or wrong. Sometimes you have to say good-bye to a loved one way too early. Sometimes you don’t have what you need and you have to make due with what you have.

Morning Candle LightingWe do have a choice of how we absorb life’s gifts and challenges. So this morning, I started my day by breathing in the light, lighting a couple of candles, and chanting “Shining”, a beautiful chant by Rabbi Shefa Gold. http://www.rabbishefagold.com/shining

Choosing to wake up and breathe in the light while chanting in Hebrew

Arise and shine for your light has come,
and the Glory of God is shining upon you.

[Isaiah 60:1]

helps me navigate all that is filling my spirit – the good, the sad, the hard, the frustrating, and the many realities.

My holy work is to consciously thrive regardless of where I stand. I am choosing to find light and allowing that light to soothe and comfort my spirit. Join me!

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(Note: To learn more information on #The100DayProject which is also known as #ActivistCardsByChava, you can see https://wp.me/pthnB-3cH.)

From the Narrow place I called out to God
who answered me with the Divine Expanse. (Psalm 118:5) 
Translated/Interpreted by Rabbi Shefa Gold

There is nothing normal about me. In fact, I fit no where, but find my place in nearly every space I choose to go. In many ways this is gift and yet I find myself bound by the world I am building and the sacred space I am craving.

Here is the the thing, as we move into 5779 (the Jewish New Year), I am profoundly aware that I have little to say to those that believe in Trump or believe in Israel’s current government. I have no patience for those that stand in a world that does not consider “others”. I find the people that want to build walls to be deplorable at best.

Day 29 - Build BridgesAnd yet, I know all of us need to find a way to meet in the middle if we are to build a world with more love and less hate.

I am struggling – really struggling.

There must be something beyond the dysfunction of our world. There is so much work to be done, but it isn’t going to happen if we don’t find some middle ground or build at least a few bridges.

Today I am finding myself looking deep into my soul and hoping that I can find the inner strength to build bridges in all areas of my life. While politics may feel the most daunting right now, they are also a symptom of my spirit not being as grounded as it needs to be.

May this year be a year for building bridges and crossing the insurmountable divides.

Onward with love, light, & authenticity,
Chava

PS – I’d love your feedback on my blog, my writing, my thinking, and/or my Activist Cards!!! Feel free to like or comment. I will try to respond to all comments to this blog. Input is always welcome.

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I  AM LOVED

Two Naked Trees - Santa Monica California Beach - Jill Berkson Zimmerman

Photo Courtesy of Rabbi Jill Zimmerman

You are seen, You are heard
You are loved for who you are
You are enough, You are complete
You are loved

I am seen, I am heard
I am loved for who I am
There is nothing I need to change
I am loved, I am loved

I am seen, I am heard
I am loved for who I am
I am enough, I am complete
I am loved, I am loved
I am seen, I am heard, I am safe,
I am enough, I am worthy, I am loved
Words & Music by Karen Drucker

Life has given me incredible moments to stretch, grow, and thrive. Sometimes I  see these opportunities with awe, but other times, not so much.

I’ve always said that ‘the gift is the challenge’ which means that I strive to find light in even the darkest hours. Mostly I am able to reach that goal and at other times that goal feels like an impossibility.

Over and over again, I have faced some daunting struggles. Mental illness and violence destroyed some of the people closest to me and sometimes left me battered not only emotionally, but physically. Loss of too many pregnancies and adoptions forced me to question my belief in God. And watching my son Aryeh face life and death challenges again and again within his life as both an infant and later a teenager could have destroyed me. Dovi, my younger son, also had a very serious health challenge as a toddler.

When life is at it’s most painful, you don’t have time to cry or lash out at the world. You are forced to go through whatever it is you need to do. Survival has never been an option for me. Breathing deeply and pushing forward is truly the only viable option. At least this is so for me.

In 2007, I legally changed my name to Chava Gal-Or. I wanted my name to be a testimony to who I was and what I wanted to continually be. I chose the name Chava as a celebration to my surviving a sometimes traumatic existence. In my heart of hearts, I have always seen myself as a thriver; regardless of what experiences have come my way, I find a way to soar. And my last name is reminder that I want to find light in those I meet and to find the beauty or light in that which I endure regardless of how it appears on the outside. For the most part, I have done what I set out to do.

And over the years, I have also created the most amazing village that has supported me emotionally, spiritually, and even financially. My world has been full of gifts at every turn. Without a doubt, I know that blessings abound.

Today I shared with my chanting siblings how a recent car wreck challenged me physically and emotionally; in fact what I didn’t say is how broken I was actually feeling since the accident.  Just before the car crash happened, I was finally landing on my feet after a roller coaster ride that has been going on longer than I care to admit. The grand finale, in particular, caused me enormous self-doubt. How could I end up in a community capable of causing such spiritual chaos? As my position in Tucson came to a crashing halt, my spirit tumbled. The good news is that I chose not to openly stay in the rubble; I chose to do what I had to do so that I could ultimately emerge. But the being rear-ended suddenly reinforced that I was not doing nearly  as well as I thought.

The last few years have been hard, really hard. And there have been so many times that I felt alone and afraid how I could support my family; I honestly did not know how I would feed my family or handle another serious illness. Going to the dentist was and maybe still is a luxury. And I wasn’t sure how my closest friends could continue to hold me metaphorically or otherwise. And in truth, I was blessed with friends that were there in most ways. Some couldn’t be, but most chose to be.  When I felt most alone, it was because I couldn’t recognize what was in front of me.

When I was completely honest with myself, I knew that my name should have never been changed. I was so far from life or light; I was not thriving and I certainly had no idea how I would emerge. And yet, I persevered. With some incredible fortitude and a village to guide me, I was able to do what I had to do.

When I initially reached out to my chanting siblings today, I was bordering on lost.  Yet within moments, three of my chanting siblings reminded me that I have work to do.  There is a world that I have touched with my light and I have more work to do. Wow. . . I needed to be reminded just that. I am full of light, but I needed the reminder.

The moment of impact reinforced me to face the vulnerabilities that lie just below the surface. I live in fear that at any moment my life could end. Who would take care of my sons? Who would birth my dreams? I have so much left to do. Would anyone besides my sons miss me? Do I really make a difference in the world?

We all have our own skeletons, our hidden secrets, our intimate fears. I am no different.

My teacher, Rabbi Shefa Gold reminded me that I am “surviving and thriving and reaping the hidden blessings.” And my friends reinforced it again and again.  The evidence is and was clear, I need to turn off the inner voice that sometimes tells me that I am a farce; I am a strong and vibrant woman.

I love that  I am healing, moving forward, navigating vulnerability, and feeling blessed. I am doing exactly what I needed to do.

(Note: in the early morning hours, I found a gift from my friend Rabbi Jill Zimmerman, she emailed me a link to I AM LOVED. Words & Music by Karen Drucker. I am still trying to wrap my head around Jill’s timing. This was the song I needed to hear as a reminder that I am loved and that I also really do love myself.)

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Creating Your Makom Kadosh,
Your Sacred Place

pet-rock

As a writer, I have always fallen in love with sweet nooks that inspire my words to flow.

Until the last few years, I would plop myself down anywhere and write, but that isn’t the case now. But during my two-year Kol Zimra, Chant Leader’s Training with Rabbi Shefa Gold, my relationship to space changed. During this amazing series of workshops in New Mexico, I began to appreciate how creating a spiritual space enhanced my ability to dig deeper within myself allowing me to ultimately pull out ideas and thoughts worthy of sharing with others. I also began to understand that if I surrounded myself with beauty and calm energy, my entire spirit would soar.

My spirituality has developed significantly now that I am more cognizant of my surroundings. Today not only do I spend time writing, but I also take the time to chant, drum, dance, and pray. I think about my space when I eat, cook, read, and simply take time to breathe. Surrounding myself with what resonates within me enables me to a happier and calmer person.

Many moving parts combined create a sacred space for me. Over the years, I have learned that less is more. I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist exactly, but I aspire to surround myself with only that which jazzes my soul. I want to love each of every fiber within my space. I am sensitive to colors, lighting, textures, smells. In the background, I always have a sense of the sounds; sometimes I want to hear nigunim (wordless melodies), sometimes chanting, sometimes rock, sometimes folk, and sometimes the sounds of the outdoors is perfect for my spirit. There are times I want to listen and times I want to sing, but I creatively ignite when hearing the songs and melodies that touch me deeply.

Years ago, I also discovered that life needs be part of my surroundings. Plants, flowers, herbs, and animals only enhance my mood. There is something heart-warming about being enveloped by life or by natural beauty.  My disposition tends to do better when I am around earthiness.

With all of this in mind, I am so looking forward to moving to Houston in ten days where I can establish a nurturing foundation that embraces who I am and where I can feel at home with my soul.

In my heart, I believe that in order to be content with what is, each of us need to love wherever we are standing or work towards whatever it is that we think we feel would be right for us.

Think about it, what do you need in order to make your personal space sacred.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Choose Life

In Judaism, the number 18 represents life. So, on Day 18 for the Counting of the Omer, I find it ironic that a beloved friend of mine reached out to ask her friends to chant Choose Life for a loved one who is struggling with a serious health crisis.

Life can be really hard. Really hard. . . . And sometimes the most amazing gifts show up just when you need them to.

Just over a month ago, my teacher Rabbi Shefa Gold created Choose Life and shared it with her students. http://www.rabbishefagold.com/choose-life-uvacharta/ The moment, I heard this chant, I felt drawn to it. As a result, I have been chanting it every day since first hearing it. Choosing Life is an empowering decision.  For me, it means striving to live life fully and with positive energy.

On the day that I actually received Reb Shefa’s chant, I was running scared, struggling with darkness, and wondering how I would emerge.  At first, I didn’t open the email, instead I found myself trying to find a semblance of balance. And for the most part I was beginning to find my footing and to feel just a bit better. So when I opened the email the next day, I was already in a much better place, but the chant was still able to help me strengthen my footing so that it was much more firmly planted.

In reality though, darkness doesn’t leave so quickly.  It takes work, hard work. And work is exactly what I did and what I am continuing to do.  While I am so much happier than I was a month ago, I have used chanting as well as other tools to keep reaching towards a stronger and healthier place.

For me, choosing life means finding the tools that keep me thriving. For this journey, I have been:

  • Chanting Choose Life
  • Writing, blogging, creating
  • Walking and exercising
  • Sleeping more than usual (even napping on occasion)
  • Eating better
  • Spending more time with my sons and dog
  • Taking time to talk to and visit friends
  • Stopping to notice spring

I love that my transformation began literally moments before I heard Choose Life and I love that it became a tool for me to thrive even more. Starting tonight, I will also use it for my friend and her loved one.

Choosing Life has never been an option for me. I have always reached for the light even in the dark moments. Tonight, I will send that light to those in need. Will you join me?

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Middah (character trait) focus: Creating a safe/sacred container

Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom.  For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for me, it is a time to actively reflect on different middot (character traits) that will lead me to my own rebirth.

In the last month, I have had four separate people need me to listen as they fell apart.  This is not a middah, character trait, that I do with ease.  I am someone who prefers to offer solutions or ideas for how people can navigate whatever is happening.  And reality is that some people really need to embrace where they are before they are ready to navigate to a different place.

My teacher, Rabbi Shefa Gold, teaches her students that each of us in a group has a different role.  Leaning how to create a sacred container for people to express themselves is becoming my new personal mission.  It really is amazing to let people totally express themselves and to simply respond shemati, I hear you.

Last night, my son turned to me and said, “thank you for letting me lose it in a safe space” – Once those words were spoken I knew I had finally learned what it means to create a safe or sacred container.

May I continue to develop the power of silence and supportive energy as tools for creating sacred containers for those in need.

Metal Buckets

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Tonight we counted Day 37 of the Omer, which is 5 weeks and two days of the counting. Day 37 is referred to as Gevurah sheh b’Yesod, Strength within Foundation.

Emerging from all that life has to offer is similar to trying to navigate a labyrinth. Sometimes it can feel daunting to find the inner-strength and the character to travel the right path and to do the holy work of living.  Breathing deeply and being the best person I can be is part of building a strong foundation.  Drawing on the strength from within my foundation comes from walking gently and doing my part to make certain that I am doing the best I can for myself.  Only then can I do for others. Creating a beautiful foundation happens after one takes care of themselves so that they can then ultimately do for others.

Having the strength to “plant seeds of joy and light” is ultimately how one builds a strong foundation with inner strength.  My teacher Rabbi Shefa Gold instilled this very concept in me with her many teachings; in truth she wasn’t alone, I have had many great teachers.  Planting Seeds, one sacred chant composed  Rabbi Shefa Gold has impacted my spirit strongly.  It is my reminder that life’s holy work begins with planting seeds and showering those seeds with joy and light.

Let's Dig A Hole

Plant the seeds of Joy and Light; Tend them carefully day and night,
In this soil so dark and deep, I plant the dreams that Love will reap.         (Psalm 97)

http://rabbishefagold.com/Seeds.html

May we all have the capacity to plant the seeds that will ultimately reap great rewards for ourselves, our community, and our world; may we find gevurah sheh b’yesod, strength within foundation to make this happen.

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