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Joy Serves G*d in Joy as a passionate performing percussionist, poet, publisher, photographer, publicist, sound healer, spiritual guide, artist, gardener and Gemini. "Ivdu Et Hashem B'Simcha" -Psalm 100:2 ....... Joy Krauthammer, active in the Jewish Renewal, Feminist, and neo-Chasidic worlds for over three decades, kabbalistically leads Jewish women's life-cycle rituals. ... Workshops, and Bands are available for all Shuls, Sisterhoods, Rosh Chodeshes, Retreats, Concerts, Conferences & Festivals. ... My kavanah/intention is that my creative expressive gifts are inspirational, uplifting and joyous. In gratitude, I love doing mitzvot/good deeds, and connecting people in joy. In the zechut/merit of Reb Shlomo Carlebach, zt'l, I mamash love to help make our universe a smaller world, one REVEALING more spiritual consciousness, connection, compassion, and chesed/lovingkindness; to make visible the Face of the Divine... VIEW MY COMPLETE PROFILE and enjoy all offerings.... For BOOKINGS write: joyofwisdom1 at gmail.com, leave a COMMENT below, or call me. ... "Don't Postpone Joy" bear photo montage by Joy. Click to enlarge. BlesSings, Joy

Light / Ohr

The Ultimate Metaphor of G*d's Expression

- Joy Krauthammer

I feel sad. The Chanukah candles just went out. They 'died'.
I never had this sensation before, but then I have experienced life (and death) differently this year.

 My husband, Marcel, z”l, (of blessed memory) died this year.  This is my first Chanukah without Marcel standing next to me or even lying in hospital beds as I stood next to him. (Not sharing candles as I grew up doing, but each with "our own chanukiyah", his Orthodox childhood custom, Marcel explained to me 36 years ago.) In the hospitals we used my Velcroed quilted menorah, cloth candles and flames: the hanging menorah -- a gift from the Russian family I had adopted. No candles allowed in ICU's. I really tried to bring Chanukah to Marcel while in hospitals, as did our daughter with her bride-groom.  This year, because of my dedicated advocacy on behalf of Jewish patients, our local (Catholic) Northridge Hospital now has 15 individual electric menorahs for patients and a large menorah in the lobby, and a Jewish Chaplain, my Chabad Rabbi Eli Rivkin.

I released new energy into the world, when tonight, I said the blessings and lit the Chanukah shamash and four candles. I was co-creating with the Source of All BlesSings by kindling candles. But then suddenly, I started over and I sang the blessings again because I realized that I had said them quietly mostly to myself, and I needed to sing them more cheerfully and out loud with alive energy, while inviting Marcel in to join me. (I would do the same on Sukkot, inviting ushpizin, the spiritual guests.) Maybe Marcel held my hand while I kindled. I opened the door to my heart, my Tiferet space. That felt better. Then I sang Marcel's favorite Chanukah song,  "Maoz tzur yeshua-si, Lecha na-eh li-sha-beyach..."  O Rock of my salvation, with delight we praise You.

I have not yet eaten a latke / potato pancake or played dreidle, but I did have half a sufganiyot / jelly donut and chocolate gelt (coins) at synagogue. I sent tzedakah / charity. I skipped all the Chanukah celebrations except at shul on Shabbat. On the first night, I was somewhat sad in synagogue, but I loved seeing Rabbi Debra Orenstein warmly bless the children by the menorah. At home, I did create a computer artsy menorah, and in the zechut / merit, of my husband's neshamah / soul, I sent it with Chanukah greetings filled with teachings and meditations on ohr/ / light, to my family and community. "The light represents the light of Divine teachings," I am reminded of my teacher, Yosef ben Shlomo Hakohen's words. "Torah is Light." (Proverbs 6:23)

Tonight I gazed at my candles. Meditating, I stood right next to them peering into them. From the distance was not good enough; I wanted to see the insides of the flames; their neshamahs / souls. (Could I be inside the flame?) I was searching for meaning. I felt blank. I could not feel the warmth, nor feel like a shamash myself. The ner / candle, consists of three parts, the ner itself, the patil--the wick, and the shemen --oil. Ner, Patil, Shemen: the first letters of the three parts of the candle spell out Nefesh--soul.

I looked into each flame individually. They were related, almost same size, height, width and dance. I was disappointed that within, they were mostly bland without 'fiery' color except for the lower blue and wick. I thought of Reb Shlomo Carlebach’s, z'l, teaching; that I could let the Chanukah light shine into all areas of my darkness. I gazed at the light knowing it is wondrously, the same Ohr Ha-Ganuz, primordial light, already here from Creation, Temple days and miracle days. I brought the light into my heart space yearning to experience my own soul at this moment. This Chanukah, while alone, there have been more 'grieving' tears. What happens when a tear meets a flame? (I observed my tears flowing into water while swimming this summer.) Probably for the first time in my life, I placed my moist finger into a flame, to feel its reality. I needed to do this.

Then facing the dark window on the other side of my menorah (I rescued it from an antiques store just before being married), I gazed at the dark illuminated reflection of me gazing at the barely dancing lit candles. I liked seeing myself with the candles. It was a different experience. It was dark 2D of me. I could see the outline of the flames more clearly than the ones in front of my face. Strangely, it was easier to describe the light by it's reflection, than by it's own full being. Try communicating a flame's form... Revealed, the transcendent light is real, a paradox: does and does not have substance of its own, or definable form, and yet allows us to experience higher truth and G*d.

Are the Flames watching me? I am observer and maybe observee.
Maybe Marcel, z”l, is watching over me.

Toward the end, the candles were as if souls returning to the Creator with their last breath. No longer reaching upwards in a dance between heaven and earth, they were a fragment of their former selves, returning to their grounding wick.  Pure blue light while ending their life. No other colors. Holding their own, I watched them each slowly die without even a flicker. Just poof and gone to G*d. I tried feeling for a rising soul. OHR (light), G*d's expression of existence, was no longer revealed to me.

Do flames have souls?
"Ner Hashem Nishmat Adam."
The flame of The Compassionate One is the human soul, says Proverbs 20:27.
So, maybe I am not so far off.
Maybe G-d is closer than I am feeling.
Reprinted from:
OHR Flame painting by Joy Krauthammer
created following a meditation on the Holy Temple



Dear Joy,
Your moving letter referred to the following words from our Sacred Scriptures:
"The lamp of the Compassionate One is the human soul" (Proverbs 20:27).
Each of us is a menorah.
And the light of this menorah is eternal.
Happy Chanukah,
(Reb Yosef Ben Shlomo HaKohen, Jerusalem)
~ ~ ~



by Joy Krauthammer

Valentines Day 2003

Watching "The Hours" (book--Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway), compelling film in theatre, starring Meryl Streep, emotionally so connected to her friend, poet (Ed Harris) stricken with AIDS, ravaged with illness, thrashing with rage, ridden with visibly scaly skin, I felt empathy and the similarity to my life. A kiss decades earlier for Streep, for me thirty-four years ago, out of love and now caring for after many years, fifteen in my story, a 56 year old man riddled with cancer, mostly not visible to the eye, suffering with more uncomfortable horrendous intense pain and complications that one can imagine.

A reflection of illness from rare metastasized esthesioneuroblastoma. Morphine and Methadone don't decrease pain. Marijuana a problem. Red itchy skin, numb legs, lack of propioception (not knowing where in space his legs and feet are so they get bruised when fumbling and falling), freezing cold hands and feet and blue toes (special clothes), ambulation problems from stroke and spinal cord compression due to tumors, sciatica nerve pinching compression, muscle spasm, no stability, wobbly with cane, sometimes walker, wheelchair, tripping, falling, crawling-back to bed. Lymphedema-drainage therapy, towers of pillows, legs swelling like an elephant, bi-lateral parathesias (burning, tingling, pins and needles), constant monstrous pain that only sleeping pills cover, (color coordinated) cushion needed to sit on, shlep about. Blood clots caught in implanted filter, blood loss, blood tubes, blood thinners, blood tests, low blood cell counts, blood transfusions, aborted surgery-"can't see through the blood". Maybe eighteen surgeries before that one. Waiting for the next.

Dehydration, constipation, hernia, bloating of belly, nausea. Loss of taste, no sense of smell since brain surgery (comatose for months) in 1988 when part of frontal lobe was removed with tumor, new brain lining failed to hold, opened again, scar along length of nose from stitches, physical depressions in forehead from opening skull, mind retention less, memory loss, over-dosing, under-dosing, drug allergic reactions, weakened chipping nails. Bandages, $1,000 tube creams, dripping fluids, pills, capsules, herbs, $100 oz. maitake mushrooms, cat's claw, shark's fin. Can not sleep on decadron, prednisone for inflammation, drug induced psychosis, wired, wild, out of control, "off the wall", dis-inhibition from drugs and brain surgery.

Embarrassing with words, rage, curses, name calling, inappropriate jokes, stories, communication, and talking out loud to self. With recognition, may later apologize. Dry mouth from radiation burned out salivary glands, swallowing difficulty, fever blisters in and out of mouth, waxy bubbling ears, hearing loss, eye floater from fall and hitting head, lacerations, mumbling, fumbling, unconscious (Breathing? Dead?), 911 middle of the nights, ambulances, revivals, stitches, infections everywhere dangerous, urinary, deadly catheter. Fast 3 am car rides over hill to LA ERs. No stopping for red lights. Hospitalized for months at a time. Six in a summer. Can't carry, lift, soups spill on floor, black 'n blue from IVs, infiltrated, non-flowing and needle shots, accupuncture too, body distortions from surgeries, sagging skin from radical neck dissection with long scars on both sides from ears to chest, multiple surgical scars on length of back, others unseen under hair, metal disk in neck to guide robotic rays, Harrington rod in scoliotic spine making tumor scan imaging difficult not allowing full vision.

Ear, sinus cavity and port-a-catheter regular cleansings, hair loss many times, bald cold head, body burning red from radiations how many times and just finished another round, and irregular shape burnt out beard. Sick from chemotherapy how many times? Refusing recommended next chemo dose. Hormones destroyed, hypo-pituitary. Scars, scares, nightmares. Missed diagnoses. X-rays misread, wrong areas radiated, destroying good organs, not timely read, nor timely delivered. CT Mylogram - body upside down dye lumbar puncture-"blockage". Treatment? Delayed - "No beds available." "Go home." "Surgeon out of town." The partner, too.

Hours on phone making appointments for consultations. Hours researching treatments. Hours on CA freeways visiting millions of doctors, healers, clinics, Western and Eastern. Hours waiting for test results. Hours in ERs waiting. Hours as inpatient at six hospitals this last summer. Hours at Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy. Hours driving to drug stores. Hours paying bills. Hours being despondent, depressed, disoriented, disillusioned, delirious, confused, anxious, fevered, fainting, hyper, hopeful, faithful and patient, while being his own best doctor. Hours not being able to sleep. Hours and hours spent on hard tables (seven hours at a time) for MRI scanning with incessant hammering, banging noises, and out of town Radiotactic Cyber-Knife surgery. Hours and hours in constant pain, groans, moans, sighs, rarely cries. Hours and hours and no doctors' communication. Compassionate oncologist calls 10 pm.

Appetite? Enhancers and caloric fatteners.

The scene riveting for me as Streep in kitchen doubles over in the consciousness of her emotional pain, witnessing, devoted care giving, for how many years of her standing erect with a disabled loved one (LO). And once doubled over, Streep could recover quickly within minutes, stand again and go forward with plans to honor the poet. And even then, welcome his former lover, and estranged mother.

My mother-in-law on other coast has no clue. "Everything's fine, Ma." Strength, courage, faith, hope, fortitude, love. Haunted by medical memories and missed futures. In the middle of ten plus Hours surgeries, I breathe deeply, regain control over Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and recover with coping skills to be in the moment, relinguish memory and future fear, and from crumpled state, stand again to withstand more Hours.

Did he eat his food? Is he being nourished? Is she controlling or truly trying her best to encourage him to care for himself. No, he doesn't have to do what he does not want at any moment, even if he could "perform" at that moment and event. No tolerance for anything not for him. No singing allowed. My man, as with the poet, is also brilliant, as well as determined, struggling, suffering, persevering, courageous and filled with faith. He, too, was dedicated to his work, being honored as Number One for his life's work, and must have everything his way. "My Way" is only a song for me.

Choosing life over death all these years. Enough. Dayenu"Won't jump off bridge because that's not Jewish, but maybe fall off?" Streep's poet falls out of the window in his craze for liberation-for whom? For whom has he stayed alive?

Just watching him at arm's length, threatening, nothing she can do any longer to control situation, to help, direct survival, out of her grip; finally.

Sustaining my own life of joy along with a bond of love. And the garden, the flowers, have been my sanctuary, as I was reminded seeing armloads in Streep's embrace as she prepared her way to celebrate her friend.

"The Hours'" characters' lives eerily appear to be superimposed upon each other, to reflect earlier eras, repeating lives of others, echoing from novel to movie. So, too, mine parallels this plot of relationship disconnect darkness. And caregiving. Connection.

(Wellfleet, as a place referred to in The Hours, brought back memories of land my parents owned in Cape Cod and sold thirty four years ago (superimposed on a kiss) to pay for Mom's, z'l, six month short lived cancer hospitalization (versus fifteen years now for my husband), when she was forty-nine. Loved were the Hours spent in Cape Cod.)

Healing prayers for my husband, Marcel, Menachem Elimelech ben Tova Mateal, are greatly appreciated as we find new spinal cord tumors just as radiation, once again, is finished. Appreciated are the Hours of love and Hours of care from countless medical staff, my family, friends, former medical colleagues, golf partners, spiritual community and rabbis. Marcel is a living legend. Called a "cat with nine plus lives".

Joy Krauthammer
Caregiver Angel Warrior

Post Script
Marcel, z"l, lived to go to his daughter's wonderful wedding.
 'The Comeback King' made it
and in his electric wheelchair, he danced!

Baruch Dayan HaEmet
Marcel, z’l, my husband of 31 years, died January 17, 2006, 17 Tevet, after last few years of paralysis and living in his bed 23/24 because of the lymphedema, and last three years and more surgeries of hours of the worst complex medical conditions.
G*d finally took home Marcel’s soul after six months of agonizing artificial "life-support" and eighteen years of cancer, since the first two horrific brain surgeries in June 1988.
Marcel's story was on http://www.thestatus.com/.
 At Marcel's funeral I called out, “He’s free, he’s free at last.”
I wrote on his gravestone:

Marcel never gave up.
He remained Number One in his challenge -- his being Survivor Warrior.

My story of Marcel's 'hours' was written in 2003,
before the last three worst suffering years of his life.
Or were they the 'worst' hours?
Marcel said, "I love you", and "Thank you".
~ ~ ~ 

Another story on Marcel

HOURS represents Sephirot of Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malchut in Netzach / endurance with lovingkidness, strength, compassion,  determination, gratitude, bonding, devotion, and being all we can be to save a life.
~ ~ ~


by Joy Krauthammer   
Nov. 26, 2006  
(After reading Sh’ma 9/2003 issue)

I am still in place, stage (no drama here) of aveilut, from burial until the first anniversary of the death, in the pain and gradual healing marking this process. Almost two more months I have of being aveilut. For 18 hours I was in aninut, period between death and burial, halakhic mourning stage.

Wish I had known of R. Joseph Soloveitchik’s Essays on "Mourning, Suffering and the Human Condition'. Originally spoken in 1961 to Boston mental health professionals.

Aninut = "feelings of shock and anguish of bereavement allowed untrammeled expression."
According to Soloveitchik, Avilut is "necessary and profoundly heroic." Reaffirm purpose of life and dignity.

Does this mean I was heroic in getting past this stage, or in being in this stage? Or? Clearly necessary. in grief, I needed to be secluded from community except for Kaddish.

Soloveitchik writes that "emotional defeat is necessary to spiritual victory."
(Marcel’s, z’l, father, z'l, studied weekly with Soloveitchik.)

"In R. Soloveitchik's 1978 "Catharsis", he writes that "all sincere spiritual striving must end in movement of surrender before the unfathomability of that which we are trying to approach ."  In the early version, he asserts that this ability to accept limitation and defeat is utterly necessary to the psychological health of hubris-ridden modern men and women." (David Scharz)

I needed to surrender to G*d, to All that is, when I had to accept defeat in my trying to help somehow, to control situations, i.e. keeping Marcel in the Valley during his final six months during artificial life-support, and not to have health insurance send him to LA where there was an "acute" vacancy, but where we had no one and the freeways drive was long.  I had just had double knees surgery, and was really crippled and in pain.

Yes, it was unfathomable. I had to accept the decree. I broke down crying on Marcel in his ICU hospital bed. Did he know? He was conscious. I was like a widow over a dead man’s grave site as he was being buried. That was a final blow that I was feeling. I could no longer help myself, and show a different face to Marcel. Not an upbeat facade any longer; but a face filled with fear, fatigue, fight and sadness. Truth prevailed. I had to accept limitation and defeat!

I could not allow further NG tubes to be forced into his body causing trauma. Did I help relieve pain? Did Marcel let go any sooner? Poor Marcel. He struggled so long and so hard. Finally he could be released. I think he let go because I was not there. Even if I was, I may have been asleep and not even know. Would the nurses have known? I must feel OK with the fact that after singing Marcel a 'lullabye', I went home to sleep.

I did better this way, because I had to totally function in the morning; not knowing I had to inform mortuary, etc., make immediate funeral plans, write death/funeral announcement, and write and call everyone. And find Aviva who did not answer any phone calls in morning. Where was she this morning? And I could not call Granny in the LA hotel to tell her that Marcel had died! --until Aviva was with Granny. May he rest in peace, and in G*d’s glory.

Yes, there is a "measure of peace" (David Wolpe) to know that death is a stop along the journey to ‘Afterlife’ and not just a painful realization of finality."

For me --Marcel can now finally know truth. Maybe Marcel can look after me from where he is.
Maybe Marcel helped Jered today in his terrible car accident. I am glad that friends can channel Marcel and share with me, his journey. I pleaded with G*d to have mercy on Marcel. Marcel suffered enough!  Dayenu.

And my suffering? Slowly I will get over it, on my death, anyway, but it surely took a toll on me in every sense in every world, spirit, heart, mind, body. I suffered also because of Marcel’s negative treatment of me. (edited) This is emet.

Writes (Ilana Harlow) in Sh’ma, "Many traditional responses to death involve a creative impulse given expression through art, music, and rituals connected to funerary rites."
"Creativity counters the destructiveness of death. Creative acts not only give those encountering death a project to focus on, but also provide them with a way to physically enact their grief. To give shape to sorrow and to evoke the presence of the dead amongst the living."

The first place I went while grieving was to We Spark, place for people with cancer and their families. I knew it would be protective, and others there were in a possibly similar place and/or facing serious illness.

In workshop, I created the first of a few pages of a scrap book with photos. (Later I presented to  friends their now decorated photos.) I was able to be expressive while I felt bound up and not in the bonds of eternal life, but here. I was able to step out and be creative. I was proud of myself.

My writing has been also in this vein, no IV’s here, but then maybe it is, an infusion of life into myself, to heal cathartically through expression of words-- releasing what I am involved in at that particular time.

How sad that Marcel and I never discussed what onset of dying meant. Bought a plot where for his dying desire, he could have a stand up gravestone like his ancestors, and together we wrote out funeral plans. I insisted. Glad I did. (I was ready for mortuary, and they still made mistakes: No guest cards for names, no viewing curtain closed. We, family, waiting, were all visible exposed in grief to funeral guests. Mistakes on death certificates. Does it ever end?)

Decided on details, casket, words for monument/matzeivah, casket bearers, donations for charitable organizations, content to have, not have at service. No music for Marcel. Yes, in future for me. A party for me. Experiential of course. Creative, musical, artistic. feeling, doing.
I said/did Vidui / confession with Marcel. What did he get out of it? I have no idea. He was in bad shape (unconscious?) when I offered the confessions for him. "Connectedness of life and death." (Alison Jordan)

(Roberta Goodman) Yes, we have "ritual, symbols, customs, prayers, narratives, and laws addressing theological, psychological, sociological and relational questions about death and dying."

I have told stories about Marcel. Looked at pictures, lit a yahrzeit candle, lit yiskor candles, given tzedakah / donations and visited his grave site. All creating memories. I have done so much. Made lists, written stories, ordered plaques, Torah parsha memorials, monuments / matzeivah, given gifts to conference speakers in his name. I made a huge loose leaf book on Marcel. I hope that Aviva appreciates that, and also one I have been writing on me. Marcel would have never done this for me. Who would have thought that I would have done this for Marcel?

Amazing that I wrote huge medical care giving books for Marcel and his aides for his proper care. They are good books that I created. I do think I did everything possible. Even had mikveh / water ritual purification to try to distance myself from heavy mourning after half a year. Wish I did not have to be suing company (deleted) now for their breach of contract with contract. For the sake of truth and principle and for Marcel and myself, I must pursue this. This is costing me a fortune in pursuing justice. Tzedek, Tzedek, Tirdof

Zichrono l’vracha.  Saying it is hard for me to feel comfortable with the words.

(Avriel Bar-Levav) Jewish rituals for the sick and dying were written about in the 1600's by Leon Modena, Balm for the Soul and Cure for the Bone. Published 1619, Venice. Where was this book when I needed it? I had prayers plastered on the walls of the hospital rooms so that visitors and myself had easy access to share words, love, prayers, Torah with Marcel.

Ma’avar Yabbok, by Aaron Berechia Modena, published in Manuta in 1626. The passage of Yabbok, and then these books disappeared. Because people die in the process now in facilities, and medical personnel want to "save" the patient, and fight death, so don’t share rituals and "recite and converse in order to escort the soul of person when he is dying, and give his soul back to G*d who granted it."

I can understand this one. Death would be considered the failure of physicians and these docs did not want to fail themselves, or Marcel, most respected of doctors.

I think that in so many of the hospital stays Marcel had back to back, five-- all wanted to ‘save’ him, but the last one. This place a long hard drive away into the city was a blessing, a hidden blessing, which only after Marcel’s death was revealed to me. A doctor who finally understood that Marcel should not continue to suffer as he had, on life support (and further paralyzed and with massive worsening diagnoses) for the prior six months in five facilities. Northridge Hospital-- 2 months, Barlow-- 2 months, Valley acute, Encino ICU, and LA acute.

What a journey we all had saving Marcel. Could I have done anything differently? Does not matter now, although it continues to tear at me. Marcel heard my tears for himself. And still does.

Yes, I was behind a mechitzah / gender separator for a full month, daily, while reciting Kaddish.

I prayed out loud. Orthodox men may have prayed a little louder at the Young Israel, and I told them what a mitzvah I had them doing by having my live presence. I honored Marcel when I made a kiddush breakfast after my shloshim / 30 days ended.

I have done a lot to honor Marcel’s memory. And this was for an unkind (deleted) spouse.
My love must have been deep. And Marcel knows this, even more so maybe now with unhindered clear vision.

Yes, all the writing that I did for family and friends while Marcel was on life-support, in Thestatus.com was cathartic.  It gave the world info, ongoing status on Marcel. I asked for prayers for healing and for his visitors.

Now I still write cathartically. Feels like a bottomless pit, because I keep writing and could go on, but I have chores to do. So I will end now, for now.

There is a sadness in even stopping the writing. It helps. Watching movies, reading stories, both with sadness, death, dying-- evoke in me bodily pains, and tears. They retreat slowly. I slowly go forward.

 Bob Dylan sings of life being sad. He sings it well.
I can finally open enough without protective shells to listen to words of songs. Been years to finally be able to listen to anything else but Marcel’s needs.  May his memory be for a blessing.
How absurd can life be to get one past grief and mourning?
~ ~ ~


 March 12, 2012

- Joy Krauthammer

Looking for a small travel alarm clock, I decided to check my husband's, z'l, top dresser drawer where he kept all his miscellaneous items, i.e. coins, paper bills, pens, pen knife, business cards, beeper, keys, locks, name tag, buttons, giant paper clip, tape, screwdrivers, gum, golf things, strange toys, small metal balls, etc. (The Rebbe's dollar bill had been in the drawer in years past.) Those things remain there as I have not bothered with deleting them.  It was too hard seeing them six years ago. Clothes I gave away from all the neat stacks in the tall men's dresser that I had purchased in 1977; the finest well crafted lovely wood modern dresser. I really appreciated it's smooth styling.

Today I thought to myself, yes! -- I am proud of myself that I can rummage through his large top drawer six years later, through dozens of pens, makers, baby flashlights and personal small items, looking for what I want, and not get upset.  

Then it hit me--boom; I saw the little plastic red DREIDLE. Yup, it got my guard down, and there was the love, humanity and history in it all. Chanukah was important to us from the beginning, and this thumb sized symbol reminded me in a flash of the decades we had lighting chanukiyot and with our daughter, playing dreidle with pennies on the holiday. That little Jewish spinning toy has a lot of power.
And I thought I was finally through to the light at the end of 'the tunnel'.

photo © Joy Krauthammer



 - Joy Krauthammer

Want to talk about building expensive wooden wheelchair ramps? The carpenter whom I commissioned, used without my permission, reused, old, dirty partially painted wood, "from a Sukkah," he said when I saw the results and questioned him. I needed to get Marcel into the house from the hospital, so I kept the four well-built but messy looking ramps.  The truth is that now at this time, Marcel really does his own chair rolling up and down so I don't have to push or pull 200 pounds unless necessary.

I had such a good time painting the ramps myself (saving $) to protect the wood from environment and hide the "Sukkah" mess. I could have been Tom Sawyer and charged people to participate in painting. It was a FREEING EXPERIENCE to slather the paint brush in wild long strokes where ever I chose, painting even where it would not show. I only needed one coat but I painted two coats having such a good time. I painted over the peace signs, music notes and hearts I first painted all over, knowing I could do it again in other colors. (My earlier decorated symbols of joy are still visibly impressed on my cement sidewalk.)  OK, maybe spray painting would have been faster, as a friend admonished me.

Color? I did not want to be accused of purple partiality, so instead of painting my favorite purple to match my periwinkle purple SUV, I decided the outside ramps in front of house would blend with the garden's pink petunias, bougainvillaeas and oleanders. Some street salesman agreed with me, as I had color paint swatches on my rust orange tiled front patio, that nothing I wanted went with the brown house.

Result: perfect fuscia match and I smile at the shocking pink, outrageous ridiculousness of it all with each entry and exit of my home. Sort of what my backyard squeezable, squeaky, yellow rubber duckies (buoyant 'quackers') do for me. Gotta laugh! I was not so bold indoors and after painting ramps a boring color, bought some carpeting to go over it. Anyone have a staple gun, glue or carpet nails so I can finish the job? Still must water proof the paint job from rain.

About twenty years ago I finished seven pieces of large furniture and a ping pong table. In between, I had forgotten how much I loved using a brush. That was probably around the time I was painting (glazing) my ceramic artwork also. I'd even painted my ceramic drum a dozen years ago--the dumbek I'd used in performance accompanying Reb Shlomo Carlebach, z’l. 

Guess the secret is that I never got over and transcended the commandment I'd received from my 1969 Queens College painting professor when he wrote me a reference letter for the full-time graduate art school Max Beckmann scholarship that I received for ceramics study.  "I’ll write the reference,but never pick up a paint brush again."

 (Since Marcel is on a sleeping pill, I can take this diversion down memory lane.)
~ ~ ~


Here is a photo I shot recently, maybe 8 years after the ramps were painted. I took photo because I bought a new front door mat to lead to the ramp at the front door. I love the coloring. The other ramp I gave away to a neighbor who appreciated receiving it due to her wheelchair needs. I still use this ramp because I shlep my wheeled suitcases filled with music and the ramps make shelpping a bit easier.

Seen on the Street
© Joy Krauthammer


"The primary talent of an artist is his ability to step away from the externalities of the thing and, disregarding its outer form, gaze into its innerness and perceive its essence, and to be able to convey this in his painting. This is how an artist can serve his Creator."
— The Rebbe

SCARY 52 Frames.

Scary is not a Halloween mask
SCARY ~ 52 Frames theme 

October 31, 2014
- Joy Krauthammer

OPENED MY EYES and AWARENESS and saw the world of scary chaos and evil, not just Halloween masks. For photo group "52 Frames", the challenge theme this week is SCARY. 
I don’t read papers, nor watch TV to see/hear horrific news, nor watch scary movies. I turn down NPR radio when there are words of evil.

Scary!  Scary situations of scarcity and environmental threats in lack of housing, food, water shortage, from drought, undrinkable from fracking, parched fields, electricity blackouts. Deforestation. Lack oceanic conservation. Deterioration and degradation of the eco-system and the loss of many species of life. (Oil spills). Fish, birds, vegetation, human.

Climate change, killer heat waves, killer super storms, melting ancient icebergs. Volcanoes, deadly blizzards and avalanches, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, mudslides, lava spews and fires. Fire Department now lacking money needed for planes to fight more massive wild fires.  Fires from Santa Anas and drought.

SCARY. Rapid heart beat, high blood pressure, dizzness, fainting, accidental finger slice, falls, skull fractures, amputation, broken feet, knees, hips, surgeries, ruptured disks, body and mental pain and suffering. Spiritually, no self-confidence, no joy, no connection. Family and friends with medical issues, Tinnitus, cancer and other diseases, and difficult pregnancies. Asthma from fumes. 

Not enough drugs, technical aids, protective devices, or medical care available, drug availability based on age, medical costs too high. Food-borne diseases, rotten food, mold, cruises with diseases. Ebola, diseases not diagnosed, and yet seen, affecting self and society. Disabled people immobile in buildings with disasters, fires, earthquakes.

Dementia, Alzheimers, confusion, aging, being alone. Ten hours' wait in ER’s. Months' wait for MD’s. Surgery and anesthesia. Patient caregivers too few, not skilled, and exhausted. Careless medical providers, incompetent care in nursing homes and board and care. At times, dishonest and steal.

Homelessness, flop houses, joblessness, guns, robbers, burglaries, fear in one's own home. Overcrowded jails, 17% and 24% of genders mentally ill. Crazy people on streets. Self-destruction, maladaptive madness, despair and hopelessness, delusional states of mind, nasty humor, poor interpersonal communications (both between individuals and nations) and time-stressed. No self-confidence, no joy.

Scary. Art and music cancelled in schools, and librarians cancelled.

Undocumented, illegal immigrants work in homes, stores, in child labor, sweat shops, children held in detention cells at border, and with no jobs, no money. Robbers break into homes. Terrorists and gang members (and elderly) in cars run over babies, children, and adults, and kill in their beds and at schools. People and sick teens have guns, rampages, killings, drive by's, murders, beheadings, hangings, bombs, wars. Hazmat/Hazardous materials. Road Rage. To kill, terrorists dig tunnels into Israel.

Abuse, children and women denied schooling, shot, and kidnapped, sexual assault, raped, hidden, locked up. Shelters needed for women. Women beat up at Kotel, not allowed to pray.  Female babies killed. Clitorectomies. Acid attacks on women.

Children orphaned by diseases, terrorists and war. Starving.

Hatred, genocide-- ISIS, ISIL, Hamas, Boko Haram, Discrimination, Nazi resurgence, anti-Semitism and graffiti symbols and tattoos. Racism, Homophobia: Gay and transgender people beaten/killed.

Animals in shelters/pounds killed, animal killing for fun, meanness. Murder for tusks, fur. Coral reefs bombed to sell hobby fish in tanks.

Spying, drones, unexpected police at door. Phone and computer schemes. Bullying, dominance, hazing.

Scary! Men peeking, recording women in mikveh. Men molesting women. Women jailed and executed for self-defense. Lies. 

Dearth of resources or space. Massive apartment complexes being built on already congested main streets, that are already atop experienced earthquake faults. 

Dishonest politicians, 'friends', or when their employees are dishonest. Missing ethics, morals, kindness, understanding. Changes made without consulting those affected. Deficient parenting.

Scary! Unexpected external influences that turn you into a victim of circumstances beyond your control. Losing strength against winds in the ocean and not being able to kayak back to shore. Car, train, boat and plane accidents. Auto recalls.  Challenges and obstacles. Needing to fill out and complete difficult Medical Directives for your care for when you can't direct it yourself.

Unfair fees/charges. Lacking money for mortgage, shelter, food, transportation, education, health.
Needing food to be airlifted, and dropped. Food created out of 3D printers.

Coyotes in garden with bunnies, and hawks near bird eggs. Angry animals, angry people, GMO’s, their supporters' poisons, mislabeled foods, and lack of quality control, mosquitoes carrying deadly diseases, and scary insects and roaming snakes and flying bats.  

Drug cars with guys selling in front of home. Afraid to leave house alone. Alone in elevators with unknown males. Hitchhiking. Hitchhikers. Driving two hours one way for weekly class only 30 miles away. Driving at night or day in heavy fog, or rain.  Being lost in scary neighborhood at night. Bitten by a dog, and living with fear. Snokeling alone around the rear of a distant coral reef in Eilat, unseen from the shore. Being in a little boat, alone. Walking on an edge of a cliff. Driving on hills of San Francisco. 

Scared. In Big Bear 
Lake, on a good weather day, I was too afraid to go beyond the middle of 
the lake to the other side. Years ago in Sedona, Arizona, scared, I had 
been unable to cross a stream walking in the water with my 
camera, and with tripod as a support, on an Arizona Highways photo group trip.
 (Thus, I missed the photo shoot). Alone on a log stretched over water on another Sedona "vortex 
exploration" journey, I could not cross over Oak Creek. A friend encouraged me to walk on the log. Yet, interestingly when confronted with a similar 
situation in rainy Topanga Canyon, where at night I could not walk across a log over water, I WAS ABLE TO EXTEND MYSELF and guide another fearful person 
over the water. We both made it to the party on the other side.

Finally, I trespassed my own boundaries. 

Scary terrifying are the murders of Jews in Holy Land by knifing, running over by cars, bombs, terrorism with guns of innocent Jews, leaving behind grieving families, parents, children now orphaned, and students. Fear due to anti-Semites that teach their tiny children to hate and give them knives.
Fears that thousands of immigrants have for their safety trying to cross borders to freedom.
Fears that thousands of immigrants have for their safety trying to take boats to freedom and dying in the waters.
Scary that humans can kill animals for their own pleasure, and be proud of it. Whether or not the lion was loved and famous, or a giraffe was beautiful.
Scary that teachers, Scout leaders, clergy, police, and others in authority take sexual advantage of the ones whom they are in care of.

Scary! Halloween masks, and mannequins in stores, but they don’t compare to society's terrors.

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