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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

MY MEGILLAH ~ Book of Joy

MY MEGILLAH ~ Book of Joy
Women In Tanach - The Book of Ruth
 -  Joy Krauthammer

Thanksgiving day, Nov. 27, 2008
Journaling from 11/17/08 story of Ruth in Tanach class.

What do I need to learn from the Tanach story of Ruth and Naomi, two widowed women?
What relevant lessons are there in contemporary times and for me from these role models, "ancient heroines"?
This is My Megillah ~ Story of Joy. Turn suffering into joy. Turn darkness in to light. I transform.

Can I also connect with my mother-in-law when both of our spouses have died?
How do I sow and reap? Sow in Tears, Reap in Joy.  (Like Debbie Friedman's song.)

My own "field" fruit trees' harvest is bequeathed to the native creatures, wild in my garden, just as food was left in the corners of the fields for Ruth to glean. The fields I glean are Judaism. This property that I garden is G*d's.  I wrote a poem about this, Manna From Heaven. It has been published on Jewish web sites and in an Israeli poetry journal. It's found in one of my own sites, Sephirat HaOmer. Ruth birthed a marriage and a baby.  In transcending and transforming from my becoming a "widow" I began to 'birth', write poetry which I have read in synagogues and sukkahs. They are poems of gratitude for my gleanings.

On a more personal level regarding human relationships, such as with Ruth and Naomi as models, what do I see? How do I personally relate to this story?

Naomi's husband was Elimelech, translating to, My G*d is King. My husband, z'l, was Menachem Elimelech.
There is a loyalty and a love between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law that can and does transcend tragedy.
During my marriage of 31 years, I mostly did not speak to my mother-in-law (unlike Ruth's), nor father-in-law while he was alive, although his destain for me was less evident than the mother's. Like Ruth, I was from another tribe, or so he felt. He respected me because I was "up at dawn."  Now I pray before dawn, something I had not learned from my in-laws (although they were Orthodox). I have transcended where I came from on the physical plane. The spiritual heritage of my Jewish lineage that I was entitled to, I was not given and only in the last few decades had to uncover and reveal for myself, accept and authentically own!

Neither in-law appreciated me, nor wanted me in their family, and clearly showed it because I was not a "rabbi's daughter", the only worthwhile spouse for their Yeshivah bocher son. A "hippie artist" and feminist, I had no Jewish education, thus I was a "shiksa" and only good to be their 'Shabbos goy.'  (Those requests stung and hurt deeply.) As soon as we met at their home, I got yelled at when I made a Shabbat error, like sewing, or being bare foot or just being.  I was blamed that their son was no longer Shomer Shabbat, but I never knew he was when I met him. He cleverly kept all his Jewish history from me until I met his parents for Pesach. I cried alot. They made me miserable and I suffered from their treatment to me. (Later, he told me that he didn't want to lose me, so kept his YIddishkeit from me. He was in the closet the first few months of dating.)

Growing up I never knew I had an Orthodox paternal grandfather and grandmother who had both died on the west coast before I could ever meet them, and I was a teenager in NY when their death occurred. My maternal grandfather, Abe, z'l, was a Kohen. He died six months after I was born. My mom, Libby, z'l was a bat Kohen but I never knew that.

In any event, I rarely spoke to my in-laws. I tried to avoid them and finally, to preserve my soul, stopped going to their summer home for a visit with my husband and daughter. I never did desert them on Pesach, which we always spent together. My ceramics friends went on a fantastic annual trip (during the Pesach season) to Japan to visit the famous potteries and I never got to go. I had been a potter and teacher since the sixties and wanted badly to join my   potter friends.

On the day my husband, z'l, died, with conviction and joyously unlike Ruth, I said to myself, "I WILL NEVER HAVE TO EVER SPEAK TO MY MOTHER-IN-LAW AGAIN, Baruch Hashem, except for the unveiling." She never showed up for the unveiling in CA. B'seder.

Every single Shabbat for almost three years, 34 months,* I have spoken to my mother-in-law to say, "Good Shabbos." And in a truly caring way. She calls me; Sometimes I call her. We don't miss a week. For occasions we send flowers to each other. I actually care about her and am supportive of her, emes.

Friends ask me why we now have this relationship. I don't ask her. I can only surmise. I do look for answers, like a mystery, just not Hashgachah Pratit / Divine  Providence.  Her son is gone and she will not speak one word of him, not one word, no photos visible. She has another son and his family. She has my child, her grand daughter who is attentive to her. Is it because I gave her a grandchild? Ruth gave Naomi a grandchild, ancestor to King David. After how many generations of prior lives, have I possibly finished my struggle?

My child no longer asks me as she did years ago, "Mom, why do you hate Granny?" I answered my daughter at time with a lengthy detailed letter. Now she sees me, long distance, embrace the one with whom I never saw eye to eye.

As Naomi and Ruth did, we have built, rather than destroyed, a present and a future, a new relationship, born of the past, and born of death. It is a miracle, and we have both worked at it, probably with G*d's blessings. This must be a great comfort to my daughter, and to my husband, in his zechut / his merit.

I like to tell her of my accomplishments which have to do with Jewish community. I spent all those decades trying to 'prove myself' to her. That's pathetic. Guess I still do in a way, but I also want her to feel good about it. Instead of going into depression in adversity, I transcended my mourning and returned to 'joy', just as did Ruth and Naomi.

I have let her know that I have the life I have because of her son, and I AM GRATEFUL. I've come a long way. I can now be generous. (My rebbe says that I've really helped Tikkun Olam / fixing in the universe with the change of attitude.) Forget the fact that he was opposite of a loving, loyal, caring and attentive husband for all those years except the last few when he was finally grateful and loving to me while he was paralyzed and on life-support. (PS. Dark humor: Can she be closer to me and not hate me now, because I am no longer married to her son? oy vey)
So, in a way, I am Ruth to her Naomi. I have continued the "Jewish path', no thanks to her.

When I married I wanted something that I did not have. I wanted a stable family. I saw a strong family unit that I could marry into versus my staying a "hippie artist" and partnering an idealistic ceramics studio on the upper west ** side of Manhattan which was offered to me. I was not aware of the culture and spirituality in that geographic locale (and that is where my husband grew up as a child). Mine became dysfunctional. So I did not get what I wanted. And in spite of my husband, I was totally involved in Jewish life which could have thrilled the parents.  But I was never good enough for them. They never got to know me.

I think that somehow during the funeral service, and maybe even after, the mother found out what a caring, loving, devoted, loyal wife I had been when her son needed that. (Many called me a "saint".) Maybe, possibly that is why she stays in touch, because I cared for her son, and she never knew that, because she lived in a world of denial. But that's another serious story.

I congratulated her when on Simchat Torah, she told me, she carried a Torah for the first time, awesome. And she had an aliyah. I'm thrilled for this woman who can enjoy something so healthy and joyous.  I support her emotionally. I try to take care of some of her needs when needed, all long distance.  I talk with her. I listen.  I have compassion. I have Chesed / loving kindness. I care. *** I embrace her on the phone, although we are not 'soul mates'. as possibly were Naomi and Ruth.

Is there something of Ruth in me? I went from being oppressed " shiksa" to someone that my mother-in-law recently said to me, "Marcel, z'l would be proud of you."

I think that is the only time she has mentioned my husband's name in 35 months.

I feel as if, like Ruth, I've been "redeemed".

Just as G*d extended love to Naomi and Ruth, offering new freedom and hope, I, too, have seen the freedom offered to me, emotionally and spiritually, when I realized on Pesach that by offering chesed and gratitude, I am free, a bat chorin. Although Naomi did bless Ruth, I was never blessed by my in-laws, yet I too have chosen the unexpected, and I have transcended what could have been continual slavery.

Torah teacher, Leah Kohn shares, "Ruth, who created for herself a life of dignity, inspires us to assess our own surroundings and to transcend their less desirable aspects. By doing so, we free ourselves to make decisions about who we are, based on what we inherently know about ourselves, rather than what we are told we should be. From this process we emerge unique individuals, surprising ourselves - even delighting ourselves - with an ongoing discovery of our deepest gifts."

This teaching holds the greatest truths for me about myself. I have on my journey "surprised and delighted" myself.

"Your people are my people" said Ruth to Naomi.
"Your G*d is my G*d." said Ruth.

I have 'proven' it to my 'Naomi' that I am following what I lay claim to. This is what I lie with. I have followed G*d. I didn't recognize that I knew G*d when I married, but along the way, I found G*d in my life and I let G*d in.

And to prove it, I shlep to the city in mostly 0 mph each Monday morning all this semester to get to an LA rabbinic school, The Academy of Jewish Religion, for a class on Women in Tanach which is taught mamash by Dr. Clara Zilberstein, the daughter of my grandfather's, z'l, rabbi from the Breed St. Shul, Boyle Heights. Gevaldt / Awesome. I know about 'women in Tanach' but the chance to learn with this lineage, and be with my Sarah's Tent Jewish spiritual creative friends, my community / my chevre, keeps me sitting in the non-moving car with patience, like taking on the Sabbath of my mother-in-law.

According to my teachers, Jerusalem based Mrs. Tziporah Heller and New Yorker Leah Kohn, "The purpose of the Jewish people is to give spiritual direction to the world through our example." According to my chareidi Jerusalem rebbe, Yosef ben Shlomo Hakohen, G-d says in the Torah, "I've chosen you to be a holy nation and a nation of priests."

Ruth responds to Naomi, "I'll take your kashrut. I'll accept that Jews are different." Like Ruth, I accepted to remain in the faith style that I had during marriage and not give it up.  I am told that my actions, my deeds, my writing, and speech are inspiring to other Jews. Since this is so, I have fulfilled the purpose of the Jewish people in giving spiritual direction through my example.  Now I even offer a workshop (Simchat  Chochmah) in Jewish spiritual guidance for 'baby boomers.'  All I wanted as a child and as a teenager was to learn about my faith which was mostly denied to me. I have succeeded, and I accept that I have been an inspiration. I also accept the fact, and it took decades--that I am a good daughter-in-law.

I have understood Jewish principles and taken them to heart, just as I have been able to express my chesed and my joy.

"Judaism sees death as the most significant day of a person's life."  I have already designed my (paid for)  matzeivah / gravestone to represent in stone, in words and image, my life and what I stand for. Mine is a Jewish woman's life that I have led, aware and conscious of emulating the character traits, the emanations-- the Sephirot / the Tree of Life, of the Compassionate One. Like all of us, I have been created in the Divine image. In that realm I find myself in the "archetypes of our Foremothers" and women of the Tanach.

One love, shalom and abundant blesSings of harmony, wholeness, health and joy to you, 
"Serve G*d With Joy"
"The Divine One is The Source of Joy. To be joyous is to be connected with the Source – one who is connected to the Source IS joyous!"  Rav Shulim

* As of tonight it is five years, 52 weeks times five, that I speak to my mother-in-law for Shabbat. For Shabbat it is 260 times we have spoken. Now tonight as I add this story to my website, it is the 5th secular yahrzeit of my husband, z'l. In an hour I can light a candle. I honored him on his Hebrew yahrzeit date and went to his cemetery, and said Kaddish in shul, and lit a candle, and gave tzadakah in his memory. This is the first year that I chose not to read a poem ("she danced for the love she felt...") in one of my shuls where every year I read the same poem for my husband's yahrzeit. I am transcending.

** Looking back retroactively I see that the art studio which could have been my life following my graduate art work, was around the block from where my future rebbe, Shlomo Carlebach, z'l, was NY based. I probably would have entered my religious spiritual life during my NY ceramic career, had that manifested but I compromised myself in my profession, and succeeded in another one, one recognizable by my in-laws as being worthwhile.

*** This summer is my mother-in-law's 90th birthday. We'll see if I visit the other coast to celebrate with her.
My daughter wants me there and that is good.

I am posting My Megillah ~ Book of Joy, on the eve of my husband's, z'l, secular 5th yahrzeit.
I posted another story, MACCABEE ME, on my husband's Hebrew 5th yahrzeit.
Twelve months ago I visited my family on the East Coast and joyusly celebrated my mother-in-law's 90th birthday. In another month she will turn 91, G*d willing, and this week in her excellent health, experience the birth of her first great grandchild, a baby girl. I have shared with my daughter that it is important to name the baby, as is Jewish Ashkenazi tradition, honoring the neshama of my husband, z'l, and also the to honor his living mother with acknowledgement of a mindful Hebrew name in his memory. In joy I shall see her soon. Tonight is my birthday and she has already told me that she has a gift for me. My heart feels tender.

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