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Posts Tagged ‘teacher’

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 . . . .]

TyeDye6

Honoring Our Many Moving Parts

Being a mother has been the most amazing gift in my life. And yet Mother’s Day feels arbitrary in every way. Being a mother is part of my entire being and so is being a woman, a Jew, a writer. . . .I don’t need to be celebrated on any day, my soul needs to be loved every day.

Fortunately, I am surrounded by love – not only from my sons, but from so many in my world. I am a blessed person!

Besides being a mother, a woman, a Jew, and a writer, I am also a teacher, a friend, a sister; and I am a student, a dreamer, and an activist.  And. . . . The list goes on and on; all of us have many roles in our lives. I am far from unique.

I’d like all of us to be appreciated for the whole people that we are. And for me, I want to be accepted for the intense, passionate, goofy human being that I can be. I want those in my life to smile when they think of the person I am, laughing at my Chava-isms or my love of tie dye is fine too.

May we all of us feel loved and supported – ALWAYS.  May we nurture one another’s spirits.

Today is double chai (double life). Somehow that seems totally appropriate as a day to honor the people that each of us are!

Sending love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Middah (character trait) focus: Loving My Teens & All My Students For Who They Are

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.

Over the years I have been transformed by the young people that have touched my life; each and every one of them added depth to my life.  Somehow they trusted me and as their trust grew so did my ability to connect with them.  What I love about all of the children and teens that I have known over the years is that as long as I was willing to listen, I could build relationships with them.  I am so humbled by the different connections I have experienced.

Back in 2002, when I started working at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, I had no idea how to work with preteen girls.  But I didn’t actually realize that I didn’t have the skills, I faked it and somehow with each success I grew.  I loved the girls that were to become my Rosh Hodesh Girls (a group that met during the first days of the new moon each month); my life was better because of the work I did with them for several years.  The work transformed me and made me more aware of what it means to be a teacher, a mentor, woman, and a friend.  I wish I could thank each and every one of the young women today, but I have lost contact over the years.  Sigh.

Why am I reflecting back to my Rosh Hodesh Girls now?

Loved my time with Lucy Heller, Karen Judin, Rachel Rheingold - shown with Chava Gal-Or (from left to right)

Loved my time with Lucy Heller, Karen Judin, and Rachel Rheingold – shown with Chava Gal-Or (from left to right)

Today, three amazing young women took me to lunch.  Two years ago, I met them when I began working at Temple Emanu-El in Tucson.  Two of them taught Israeli dance and one was a madricha, (a teaching assistant); all three of them were giving and wise with their students and their friends too.  Within a very short time of meeting these three teens, I grew to like them very much; they became people that I now consider to be friends.  While I have always treasured the relationships I have built with my students, it was my relationship with the now college students from Adat Shalom that opened me up to really building meaningful relationships with those that were once simply my students.

One of the things I treasured most about my time with the Temple Emanu-El teens today was when they told me how I impacted them.  What I know now is that I touched their lives because I respected them as individuals and as teens; I listened to them and appreciated whatever they brought to the table; I trusted them to be leaders.  The bottom-line is that I do not believe in coercive leadership; I believe in building partnerships.

So often I work with rabbis, teachers, and parents that feel the need to tell our teens and all of our children not only how to walk in the world. but how to use their minds.  I don’t feel this way.  I want to open a door or a window.  I want to share the tools I treasure and the knowledge that has guided me throughout life; I want to give those I work with the room to play and to experience Judaism in a way that is comfortable for them.  My goal is always to hear both what those I work with are saying and what they are not yet saying; I want all the children, teens, and adults that I work to be comfortable with me and the gifts I have to offer.  My door is open.

Today I realized that all three teens were not just my co-workers, but my friends.  May they always remember that my door will be open to them.  I have grown to love them not simply as I love all my students and families; I love them as the beautiful souls that they are; I love them as my friends.

I will always be grateful to the Adat Shalom girls and the families that trusted me so many years ago.  Without them, I would not be the person I am.

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Middah (character trait) focus: Courage to create

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.

“Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse 

Before Passover, I had an idea.  I wanted to write my Omer Reflections exactly as I am doing and I wanted to include one of my own drawings to emphasize each middah (character trait).  While the idea was vivid in my head and I had already drawn a few simple illustration, I just didn’t have the courage to follow through with creating my drawings as part of my Omer Reflections practice.  I simply lost the courage.  Sharing my little drawings made me feel vulenrable, almost like I would be standing unclothed in front of an audience.  I couldn’t do that; I couldn’t leave myself wide open in that way.

As a regular blogger, a teacher/community leader, and an occasional storyteller, I am often in front of people with a goal of presenting an idea or a story.  I love to share my words, but I am beginning to realize that I have done a disservice to myself by not pushing myself to be creative in a way that might entail going a little outside of my comfort zone.

May I have a little more faith in my abilities to step outside my comfort zone, create, and then share my creations.

Drawing by: Chava Gal-Or

Drawing by: Chava Gal-Or

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Tonight we counted Day 41 of the Omer, which is 5 weeks and six days of the counting. Day 41 is referred to as Yesod sheh b’Yesod, Foundation within our Foundation.

Building a foundation means you have to hear your voice and the voices that surround you too.

Building a foundation means you have to hear your voice and the voices that surround you too.

Life is full of building blocks that we need in order to navigate all aspects of life including nature.  With all the moving parts that encompass life, each part of the whole has to be developed as fully as possible so that all parts of the foundation are solid.

As a writer,

  • each word matters.
  • sentences need to be concise.
  • paragraphs need clear sentences to develop an idea.
  • each paragraph has to blend with the words that come before and the words that will come after it.
  • every sentence, every paragraph needs to support the ultimate goal of the writing.

As a environmentalist,

  • each of us have to be conscious of how we walk in the world.
  • take small steps as we develop the skills to move forward within the larger world.
  • learn to listen to all sides of the different issues before taking on a specific issue.
  • formulate plans for how you can get involved in doing the holy work of tikkun olam (repairing the world)
  • work with a team or create a team that will support each other to make a difference by meeting ‘the goal’.
  • follow your heart and mind while doing what it takes to make a difference.
  • don’t give in or allow people that doubt you to drive you to silence.

As a Jewish leader,

  • one needs to know the subject matters that are part of your leadership or how to work with what isn’t  yet known.
  • be sincere in your work with others.
  • be able to be kind to those you work with as well as yourself.
  • know that being a leader means knowing how to listen to what others are saying without needing to control each step of any process.
  • don’t be afraid to lead.
  • loving Judaism should be a given.
  • realize that you don’t have to navigate the work alone.
  • be a role model of integrity, but not perfection.

I could do the same exercise and develop the different foundations for my roles as a mother, a friend, a teacher, a dreamer, an artist, a political activist, a Progressive Jew, a dog owner, etc.  Life is full of building blocks that develop all that we do as human beings.

With all that we navigate in our lives, may we have the fortitude to build foundations with knowledge and thoughtfulness.

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Tonight we will count Day 35 of the Omer, which is 5 weeks of the counting. Day 35 is referred to as Malkhut sheh b’Hod, Shekhinah within Expansiveness.  Shekhinah is a way of looking at Malkhut (meaning kingdom).  When God or godliness dwells in one central location, you have a kingdom.

With each and every step, I try to hold myself with integrity and to put godliness in every interaction.  There is an entire world out there that matters and depends on my integrity.  Sometimes I struggle, but still I believe that is my responsibility to follow Gandhi’s saying and “be the change you want to see in the world.”  If I consciously embrace a world of godliness than perhaps my steps will guide me to higher ground when climbing to higher ground is not an option.

Hiking Boots

To live in the bigger world, I have to remember to walk gently, to honor truth even when it hurts, and to constantly strive to be my best self even when I am dealing with the shadow of others.  The world depends on people actively being the best they can be.  As a mother, a teacher, a friend, a writer, and a human being, I have no choice but to always put my best foot forward.

Surrendering to life’s darkness isn’t an option, yet it is often how I feel when I battle the demons that exist around me.  In every realm (personal and more universal) that I travel I see darkness, but it is my job to hold myself in light and to find others that endeavor to do the same.  I am not an island; although there are moments that I feel like one.  Reality is that it takes many loving souls to make the larger world a better place.

Will you join me?  With each breath, I pray for Malkhut sheh b’Hod, Shekhinah within Expansiveness

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A few weeks ago, I found what has become my bet rock.  Feel free to laugh at me; I am.

Yesterday, as I was moving through a rather challenging day, I found myself needing to touch base with that rock which for some reason I was carrying with me in my pocket.  So I did.  Throughout the day held the rock in my hand; sometimes I just touched the outside of my pocket to make sure that the rock was there.

I love how this little rock has become my teacher.

The sweet little rock reminded me that I had to stay strong and that maintaining my foundation was an important need too.  The beauty of the rock reminds me that I have live with inner beauty and integrity.  I have to walk gently in a loving and sweet demeanor.  The earth is profoundly beautiful where I live in Tucson and the surrounding areas.  As long as I remain grounded in this beauty all will ultimately thrive.

My life has felt overwhelming as I have had to navigate some difficult challenges lately.  In truth, internally I am struggling, but the rock reminds me to stay focused and present.  My foundation is strong and getting stronger.  All will be ok; it always is for me.

Amazing how a small rock has such empowering energy.

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