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Dealing with Challenge

Separating from the Pain
For the most part, G‑d is defined by what He is not. What if I just stop being—or identifying with—what I am not?
From Breakdown to Breakthrough
I would wake each morning filled with dread for the work day ahead of me, plagued by thoughts of what could go wrong. I wanted to make changes in my life and yet could not seem to move ahead...
A Perfect Stranger
My Organ Donor
I’ve been thinking a lot about my anonymous donor lately because I fortunately just celebrated the two-year anniversary of my double-lung transplant. I find that I am now even more grateful to her, and curious about her...
The Risk of Growing Up
The time of Chanukah is a time to listen for the signals for growth that are taking root beneath the surface of our lives. It is a time to gaze into the climbing flames and to believe that we, too, can climb...
Night Pantry Syndrome
Changing an Unwanted Habit
As I climb into bed, I'm wondering how many parts of me are still locked in jail cells, waiting to be freed. And if I could free this one, then with G-d’s help I can launch a search mission for many more...
Being Bankrupt
The struggle and the lesson
I have a confession to make. Several years ago, when I went bankrupt, I was too embarrassed to tell you my story . . .
Surviving the Holocaust
My Grandmother's Story
Behind every Jewish family there is a story, and when I look at my sons, I think of all of them: the six million killed in the Holocaust, as they live in my every word, my every tear and in every moment I tell their story...
Irena Sendler
Rescuer of the Children of Warsaw
Almost as soon as the Nazi occupation began, Irena began making forged documents for Jewish friends. She also offered food and shelter to the increasingly persecuted Jewish population. Then, in 1940, she witnessed the imprisonment of nearly 500,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto . . .
My Weekend with a Recovering Drug Addict
My appreciation deepened as I continued to think about benefits of my so called “curses.” All those difficult issues of my youth suddenly seemed more like anchors than problems: Tough like iron yet grounding and stabilizing...
Finding My Peace in a Broken Family
There was no understanding, no allowance for the rest of the relationship, no crossing the bridge to make things better or work things out. It was all or nothing. Life was one big game of walking on eggshells. This was my first lesson in interpersonal relationships...
Lessons from My Car Accident
I don't know how justified I am to talk about life threatening events as I don't remember the accident. I don't remember how it feels to be unsure of whether you will live or die. I don't remember the worry, the fright, the pain; in some ways I don't understand what happened to me...
The Gift of Giving
In Memory of Stephanie Jurnovoy Palmieri
I can remember visiting her in the hospital immediately following her surgery. We just stared at each other thinking how bizarre the whole situation was. It was surreal, and we both felt like it was happening to someone else...
Don't Let The Light Go Out
Recovering From a Tragic Car Crash
It has been nearly two years since that fateful night. My family is still suffering the aftermath. I have not been able to work because of the pain. Every day has moments of deep sorrow, but there is also tremendous joy...
The Solo Journey
Life After the Loss of a Spouse
How does one reach out to others, to give and to receive, if the very act of waking in the morning causes the pain of realizing one has loved and lost?
The African Violet
An Investment in Eternity
After school, I would journey alone from a world defined by the future to a world that had no future. What would I say to Grandma? How could I tell her that I was making plans for later, for what I would be doing once she was no longer here?
Peering From Behind the Lattice
A Personal Story of Joy and Mourning
I surf between CNN, Fox, and the Jerusalem Post scanning photos of our soldiers: rough beards, weary postures. Some raise their fingers in a "V" while supporting wounded comrades. I squint, searching for Akiva's face among them...
Sailing Lessons
Finding faith through sorrow
We were close enough to talk. To scream. To hear each other’s cries. Close enough for me to hear him say, “I’m going to die.” And close enough for him to hear me say, “I love you.”
Another Kind of Baby
Six months ago I had a late-stage miscarriage, and gave birth to a baby that had passed away in the fifth month. I got out of the hospital, and began to write...
The Snake Process
Overcoming Our Fears
With the exception of semi-frequent snake nightmares, I've lived with this fear fairly uneventfully. That is until last week...
Entering the Shabbat
I don't know how I will put aside my pain for the coming Shabbat. The pain is too raw, too overwhelming, yet in a strange way, I need it. I want it. It is my connection with my dead son...
In the Mourning Light
Coping With the Loss of My Father
I don't have patience for the rivers of apple juice flowing across the dining room table, and when the lock on the front door finally breaks, locking me out of my apartment at dinnertime with three starving children, I feel like sitting down on the floor and crying with them. I don't, of course, because I'm the mom...
Goodbye, Yosef Chai
She said, "You are the only person I am telling. When you light candles this Friday night, know that it's all on you." I assumed she was joking, but she repeated this phrase, "Only you."
An Internal Journey
Moving to Pender Island
I know that there is a purpose for every human being. For me, that purpose had to be to leave all that I knew and what was familiar to me, and to start over...
The Lump
When I first noticed it, I told myself it had probably always been there and I had just never paid attention. But as convincing as I can be, even I didn't buy that...
Life After Loss
My Husband's First Yahrtzeit
One year ago, my two sons, one daughter and I stood at his bedside to say goodbye to the man who had been the mainstay of our family...
My Miraculous Lung Transplant
One month ago, I was literally running out of breath. The breath of life. My lungs were dying. And while my hope and belief in life were alive and well, the idea was to get my body to catch up with my faith. This required some work...
Learning the Language
From the outside, people think I am doing great. They compliment how patiently I am waiting for my double lung transplant and how well I am preparing for it. But truth be told, I am not really handling it so well...
Dry Bones
I seemed to spend my days ping-ponging between the cold, grueling reality of chemotherapy and an over-emotional outpouring of kindness and compassion...
The Cartwheel
Growing Up as a Child of Holocaust Survivors
When I was a child, I always felt different, an oddity among my peers whose parents had no foreign accents or horrific memories of Nazi death camps...
Picking Up the Pieces
Like all children with such a background, I am very aware of the fact that it is possible that I may have never been born...
Forgiving Ourselves
I wanted to be free of the thoughts that kept me in bondage, but I didn't know how to let go. I couldn't talk about it. I was so ashamed...it was my fault Mama passed...
Riva's Dolls
My mother-in-law Riva, is a survivor of life, and her dolls symbolize her experiences and struggles along the way. Each doll tells a story...
Being in Time: A New Orleans Journal
There was something about the immense love that permeated the home that made it hard to believe that outside those walls, the foundation of everything around us was being ripped to shreds...
Holy Day
Slowly the shelter came to life. My mother got up and prepared breakfast--a few crackers with some jam we still had left, but neither my two sisters nor my mother touched the food…
Just Sit
The large signs in the entryway to our apartment building made it so that even if you didn't want to know, you knew. One of my neighbors had died...
Riva, Rita, Rima...
What's the Difference?
I would be asked what my name is, to which I would respond "Riva." I would then be called a "Judovka," and have rocks thrown at me...
Just a Neighbor Down the Street
And here I stood sobbing over this plant and this card with my friend who had just come over for coffee. Why? How am I courageous? This woman has lived through so much more upheaval than I could imagine...
Losing Alisha
Reflections on the Death of a Childhood Friend
What remains from one of the darkest periods of my life is something strange, something I never would have expected: a rare gift that you can only purchase at the cost of thousands and thousands of tears...
Life, Death and In-Between
At every juncture, on every bridge, at every bend in the road, with every turn of the head, someone lives, someone dies, someone waits, someone cries...
Rachel's Tears
As an eighteen year-old college student, I had only begun to wade in the waters of Jewish observance when I made my first visit to Israel in 1972...
Finding My Family
When we contacted my mother’s relatives in order to find out where my grandparents and great-grandparents were buried, we ended up banging our heads once again against the old, now petrified veil of silence . . .
My Brother, the Soldier
"Wow! He's a hero!" I guess. "You mean he actually can shoot a gun?" I'd hope so! "Did he kill anyone?" I'm not about to ask but I suppose he did. "Is he a general?" No, he's a corporal. "Does he wear a dog tag? What are they for anyhow?" Um...
I Remember Tova
I can recall the day Tova died as if it were yesterday. I was eleven years old, and I had never experienced a loss like that. I was in shock...
Our Wedding Anniversary
This young woman, with her dark, black shiny hair, had a spirit and effervescence I could only admire. I thought to myself: she has no idea of the pain I am living with, the weight of what I carry...
Never Alone
I am one of the lucky ones. I may need a lung transplant and am entering a new decade, but I have friends in the here and in the now...
Me and My Shadow
Just a month after my first seizure and diagnosis of brain cancer, I had spent last night completely alone in the emergency room with a second seizure. Even food and water had been prohibited...
The Sun is Setting
The Expulsion From Gush Katif
Alas for my beautiful Gush Katif that I knew and loved. At this hour I should be standing in my garden; my ankles deep in the lush dark-green grass...
How Can I Go On Without Her?
When my sister died, my inspiration did, too. I wondered: Would I ever laugh again? Why did my life go on when hers had been cut short?
A Call From Above
My number on the transplant list has jumped from seventh to fourth! The phone can ring at any time. The "call" can be in an hour, a day, a week or a month. I can't sleep. And I am not afraid...
Grieving for a Living Brother
I have lost my brother, my only sibling. I miss him terribly and still love him dearly. Just once I wish he would call and ask if his mother is alive, if his sister is okay...
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