About Me

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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



 by Joy Krauthammer
December 6, 2010

I write this “Maccabee Me” in response to another’s writing addressed to one of my spiritual groups about her “anger” in seeing New York’s Christmas decorations, a holiday she does not celebrate, and neither do I. I do hope the writer made it to the biggest toy store on 5th Ave; I always enjoyed their December holiday display.  I admit that I enjoy decorations, and many of the songs written by Jewish composers and that I’ve heard since I was a child. Unlike the writer, I don’t have “anger”, but instead I try to “fix the world” with Tikkun Olam. I use what I think of as justice and equality, courage, creativity and Light

In response to the writer, whom on a geographic level I can relate to because I am a 'former' New Yorker, I share my most recent (yesterday's) creative art project that I made on Chanukah's 4th day; HAPPY CHANUKAH Picasa photo mosaic. First time for me using Picasa and my very first photo collage, so I am thrilled. View in December's Joyous Chai Lights.

 © Joy Krauthammer

In comparison to the writer’s attitude, I do not 'hate' the experience of another’s holiday, but I try to create, and share the joy and Light of my own, and also shine it "below the brilliance", knowing it flows from the Divine Ohr / Light.  I love it that a friend calls me, “Shamashie, her guiding light.

To celebrate my being a 'Ms. Maccabee' at this time, Here / Po (recognizing our nissim / miracles) there is much I do, traditionally and not. I'll share a little of my conscious actions, so you, too, may be inspired and encouraged to be a Maccabee and a Shamash.

As I do 'good' in our world, proudly I visibly wear on the outside, my Magen Dovid / Star of David. I also live in America and not in a country where I would be a target for Anti-Semitism.

I brought packages of netted chocolate Chanukah gelt / coins to all the dozens of Apple trainers in the local Apple computer store because for a dozen weeks, they have been weekly teaching me how to use an iMac, which has been a great challenge for me-- as I am no longer on a PC. (My daughter warned, "Don't do it, Ma, big learning curve!" My only computer had been my husband's, z'l, little laptop that I inherited five years ago.)

I wished the trainers, "Happy Chanukah", to each of them. Trainers of different races, cultures hugged me because NO ONE had ever wished them "Happy Chanukah". A first. I shared the Shehecheyanu / prayer for ‘first times’ with them. (I'm moved while writing this.) I also brought them other goodies before Thanksgiving. They know I'm Jewish, and I show them GRATITUDE. (I have a feeling that NO other client/trainee brings goodies to the Apple store. (I purchased lessons when I bought the iMac.) My sister entered the store thinking she’d find me in a session, and the Apple person on duty exclaimed, “Ah, Jewish Joy who brings us presents.” This Christian Black employee calls me “mishpocha / family”. I am aware of my presence as a Jew in community.

My beloved dear 87 year old friend, Edith, tells me that she "never had a Jewish friend before". She won't go out at night and in the cold with me, so I brought back to her, Chanukah party latkes, sufaniyot and a purple dreidle (fried potato pancakes, jelly donuts, and a spin top) and showed her how to use the top. I told her about miracles, sham and po / there and here. Yes, I have emunah and bitachon / faith and trust in G*d’s miracles and I have witnessed them as they reveal themselves to me. For Edith’s holiday I give her poinsettia themed gifts.

(Believe me, I don't 'get it' that my non-Jewish neighbors for decades, continue to only send me Xmas cards. I'm glad they do think of me, but it's not my holiday, and I tell them that I do appreciate the twinkling lights, and I send cards and gifts appropriate to them. They know I am Jewish. 

I am always touched when my NY, southern Black, older and former medical social worker colleague, Mrs, Meyers, takes the time each year to send to me colorful Pesach and Chanukah cards. To her I am "Miss Melton" or rather "Melton". Was not being easy being a young Jewish social worker in the mostly Black environment where I had worked-- Brooklyn's 'Harlem', Bedford Stuyvesant.

In addition to caring for the female, medical In-Patients at the hospital where I worked, I was a State and City licensed Home Care social worker. I was once brought up on official 'charges' and accused of giving special attention to the one "Jewish patient" I had out of my case load of 100 Home Care patients at all times. Yes, I needed lawyers for that one! Yes, I discharged my single Jewish female patient to a Jewish nursing home further away by "the beach" because that is where there were Jews.

OY, I got in big trouble again also because I advised a White patient "to call hospital Patient Rights" committee because her rights were being ignored when she needed an accessible van to get her to her hospital clinic appointment. OOPS, looks like I have a trend here. (The Black nurses in that Out-Patient Department. threatened my life, I was advised. Whew). OK, I learned that one can not be a 'whistle blower' where one works! So why have a Patient Rights Dep't.?  

Believe me, while caregiving my own husband, z'l, when I officially complained to the medical 'Ombudsmen' about lousy care my husband had experienced locally, they did NOT help me either. (With a lot of time, energy and writing, I did get one nursing facility charged with a dozen counts of wrong doing, and I paid the consequences / retribution for complaining.)

I made changes in the ways practical protocals were done at my local hospital, not just for my loved one, but for all other patients. I was surprised that the head cancer nurse greeted me when I was always complaining for good reasons, but she said I had helped them. (And you thought I was only a joyous purple percussionist.)

I am so glad that my son-in-law was just awarded a year's position with Jeremiah Fellowship, Washington, DC's Jews for Justice volunteer program.

I deviated a bit on this memory journey, so please rejoin me. Maccabee me. Oh, sounds like Apple's 'Mobile Me' which I probably could use to stay on track, but it's too costly. 

Over three decades ago, yes, that long ago, I went to the administrative director of the local VA Medical Center (VAMC) because I was disturbed each December when I drove past their out doors public display large “creche” on hilly Federal government land. The writer to whom I respond here, wrote about creches.

I wrote the VA a letter detailing that I wanted a MENORAH of "equal size" up on the land. The VAMC Chaplain, an Orthodox rabbi, Joseph Elsant, z'l, whom at that time I did not know, wrote me a letter saying that in all his years of being Chaplain at the VA hospital, he had NEVER before seen a menorah on the Federal grounds. WOW. The VAMC erected a very large menorah on the grounds that was clearly seen from the distance. Amayn. The chaplain said "Thank You" to me.

Around the same year and holiday season, 30 years ago, I went to the administrative director at the local Northridge Mall, whom I had also never known, and guess what I told her!
She said to me, "you are ONLY an individual. Get a group behind you and come back." Easy. I went to my peers on the Board of Directors at the local North Valley Jewish Community Center, and advised them that I needed their official letter to back me up in getting a LARGE MENORAH at the mall. (That was before local malls were doing their Chanukah celebrations.) Result: Jewish people enjoyed the large Chanukiah that I had arranged to be erected at the Northridge Mall. I got Chabad involved, because I was a Chabadnic since I met The Rebbe in Brooklyn, a decade earlier. (And had a Chabad wedding facilitated by my Lubavitch rabbis). Did you know I am a Chabadnic? I don't play percussion as ‘Miriyahm’ for Chabad on Shabbat but I do clap my hands and the kiddush table! (I play drums for the local Orthodox Farbrengens at Young Israel of Northridge, and I'm dressed sniut / modestly for them. I was YION’s only female Torah workshop teacher.)

Was probably around the same time when I was running a Jewish gift shop, that I brought over a menorah and decorations to my local BANK. You know what decorations they had up, and with joy, I altered that and customers enjoyed the Chanukah decorations. (Three decades later the bank is now a Chase... and they have their first Jewish banker.)

Yes, I have suggested to shop keepers that they paint seasonal snowy menorahs on their windows. I love seeing menorahs and Happy Chanukah greetings painted on the Armenian grocery that I enter.

I've never written about this pursuit of visible holiday equality, and I'm proud of myself to be a Maccabee. I had been a Caregiver Angel Warrior pursuing action. My husband Marcel, z'l, of blessed memory, had had 18 admissions to the local hospital in his last few years. (Cedars-Sinai and UCLA hospitals became too far for us when he became paralyzed, and 911 ambulances only drove to local hospitals.) 

Several years ago, during my caregiving service, I went to the local Northridge Hospital and told the female head Chaplain that I wanted a JEWISH chaplain to be 'official' and able to come and visit the patients. Forget that. She was adamant that there was no need for a Jewish Chaplain. I confirmed this with the local Chabad rabbis, that they had been turned down in their volunteer service to community. Armed as a warrior, knowing that my rights to have service from a Jewish chaplain were denied, at what had transformed into a Catholic hospital, I challenged my brand new local Chabad Rabbi Eli Rivkin to become confirmed as a hospital chaplain, and he did! Rabbi Rivkin got the hospital to add to their ER admission forms, a Mogen Dovid icon and a patient request space for a Jewish chaplain. He brought in a LARGE menorah to the lobby, and individual electric menorahs to the patients. Now Rabbi Rivkin sends in volunteers (SOS) for Bikur Cholim / to visit the sick in the hospital, and goes to local nursing facilities and board and care homes. (I have performed at Chanukah time in "Oys to Joys", musical entertainment, at local nursing facilities. Also, I played Vashti at Purim.)

In addition, with the then new Northridge male Chaplain Dep't director, John, who arrived about six years ago, I told him that I wanted CHAPLAIN interns to serve at the Catholic hospital, in addition to Rabbinic interns. Guess what?! Now, for a few years I know that LA's Academy of Jewish Religion students have a location for their internships in which to service community, and believe me, I feel good about that.

Here's a Maccabee goodie. About two decades ago, when I was an active participant of LA's Jewish Feminist Center (I miss them), we held night classes in an LA synagogue. One Chanukah season, I saw a huge hallway sized long mural on the wall, which had been painted probably by Jewish education staff. The mural was of the Maccabees. We studied Hermeneutics at the Feminist Center. I saw that the painted Maccabees were all MEN. I found crayons in the shul, and in my biblical ‘interpretation’ I PAINTED IN Mrs. Maccabee, and little female Maccabees holding siddurim in the shtetl street. Yup. Who do you think would be cooking the latkes? Someone had to be feeding these Maccabees, and I INCLUDED them.

OK, I am an inclusive person, by nature and in consciousness. At shul this last Shabbat, a male visitor to our Lev Eisha women's minyan, whom I knew would not know the people conversing together at Kiddush-- I introduced to others. I also knew this was his year of mourning, and he is currently also a caregiver. I didn't want him to be alone at Kiddush. My grateful friend said to me, "Joy, you know the people here, and could have sat with anyone, but you invited me to sit with you." Yes, this is what I do on a regular basis, and in this case, this spiritually conscious man was aware of my action.

How can we as spiritually guided individuals, Ufaratzo, spread / share the Light of the Menorah, and ours, on Chanukah and at all moments? 
Light is not diminished when we share our our blesSings, our Light-- it only increases.

Timbrel BlesSings
by Joy Krauthammer 

 Ah, one last issue I can think of to share with you while we are still celebrating Chanukah. (This letter will take 8 days to read.) This last week, I went to the principal of the local community Adult School, where I study Computer. Last week, the computer Graphic’s teacher's assignment to us was to "create a Christmas card" on Adobe CS5 Photoshop in iMac. My project, a snowy scene, has a colorful MENORAH.  I think just to spite me-- the lone Jew in class, the teacher’s upcoming week's assignment is to create a graphic “CHRISTMAS WREATH” in Adobe CS5 Illustrator. I don't want the teacher's wrath, and I don’t have “anger”, so I went higher up to the principal, and we spoke of “Religious Freedom”. In class, I will create a blueberry BAGEL or a TIMBREL, which have the same ‘shape’ as a “wreath”! Right? Mine will not be green, but purple! 
(PS. I did create a fine purple ribboned BlesSing Timbrel as intended, and you can see it here and on my December 2010 JOYous CHAI LIGHTS website. I wish for you, all these BlesSings.)

The teacher also directed us to make a graphic Xmas Tree in the next class, and I disregarded that also, and didn’t attend his “Xmas party” in class, but instead went to an Israeli music event. I spelled out the name of the holiday for one Persian student’s Xmas project. (Teacher is truly culturally insensitive.)

Oh, yes, for the teacher’s “Halloween” project which included web image witches, I did my first Adobe CS5 photo mosaic my way: of my drummer friends, all dressed in costume as they drummed. I sent it to the participants at Remo, where we have drum circle, and management also hangs Chanukah decorations which I gratefully acknowledge. For the “Thanksgiving” project, I renamed mine, “Gratitude Day is Every Day” and created a tofu turkey.  I needed to shed some Light on that ‘holiday’.

Oh, please enjoy my attached Chanukah iMac iPhoto, first mosaic collage, now also a ‘slide show’ on U Tube (my second U Tube contribution) that celebrates my love for the holiday. Along with family and friends, my Metivta Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man is in the lower right hand corner, along with an image of yellow Starred Jews, lighting a Menorah in the Holocaust. The WW II Shoah Jews were warriors and to me illustrate our heritage. I include also my colorful hand-painted Chanukah greeting in the mosaic. As Reb Shlomo Carlebach, z'l, would say, "I bless you and myself", and probably that you express your Maccabee self, embrace and SHARE the joy and LIGHT of your  holiday with the outside world.

You can view my Snowy Chanukah scene, my Happy Chanukah mosaic, and my BlesSing Timbrel in my website as well as read Chanukah teachings because I love sharing the Light: 
HAPPY CHANUKAH and enjoy December's Joyous Chai Lights, and my Menorah site.
Chanukah Same'ach, Chag Urim Same'ach,    
BlesSings for lots of Light, health, wholeness, shalom and joy,    
Joy Krauthammer,   
"Serve G*d With Joy"

I am posting my story on the eve of my husband's, z'l, 5th yahrzeit, 17 Tevet.
It took great faith and courage for him to be a patient, and also for me to be a Caregiver Angel Warrior.
"Faith and Courage" is what I wrote on Marcel's grave stone.
~ ~ ~


© Joy Krauthammer

Sunrise Reflection 
begins a new day, and a new year this week.
© Joy Krauthammer

A lot to say about a little photo

Sunrise Reflection is especially meaningful to me. It is a photographic challenge I anticipated. Last week I couldn't have done this shot; the fence was totally covered in vines.

In the dark before 6am, each day I wait for the sun to flash light and color on the horizon, maybe vibrant orange or intense fuchsia. (Maybe enrobed in thick grey clouds.) After painting the sky, the sun rises and shines her radiating face. If there are no magnificent colored clouds, as on this very windy day--the sky is clear, and the photo focus is elsewhere than on fascinating clouds. Today my focus is on the sun's light reflection on the other side of my garden's black wrought iron fence, although I can't see reflection from my camera viewpoint.

Standing or crouching on flat corner ground on my safe side of the fence, holding tightly with one hand onto the sturdy fence, not to be blown over the section of adjacent unfenced property edge in the powerful wind, I carefully thrust my camera through the now stripped and revealed fence to this photo's visible side. With fast disappearing glow, seconds of reflecting sun light, with one hand, I shoot the scene with finger on same hand grasping camera, although I can't see the viewfinder. Whew. Where my camera is, I can't stand on the side of fence because of immediate steep drop down to street!

For the prior couple weeks, I've been removing (with the gardener) all the mature gorgeous Hardenbergia vines spreading out from the center of perimeter of my garden. The Hardenbergia had a dozen years of dead inner vine growth, maybe 100 feet long, 6 feet high and 3 feet deep. Hmm, a metaphor for something... This was an emotional painful process to remove Hardenbergia vine, as the adorable, teensy purple wisteria-looking cluster babies were coming into blossom view. (When would it have been a better time to prune this beloved vine?) Also removed the Honeysuckle vines from fence at the far end of my hillside property. Beyond the Hardenbergia, growing down the slope, is yellow flowered Honeysuckle. The Honeysuckle vine was uncomfortable on my back, as I pushed up against it in my thin pajamas, trying to shoot sunrise, and see color and mountain vistas beyond trees that block my vision.  Honeysuckle also had pushed it's unwelcome way into the Hardenbergia, and resisted removal!

At the fence's far opposite end closer to my house, is the awesome Passion Fruit vine I'd also planted, with the most amazing purple flowers and fruit.  Recently, again, the Passion vine was attacked by nasty Barnacle Scale. I knew I had to take down the vine in order to save it. We saved the thick core trunks of the three separate vines, each so different and individual in it's personality, shape and color. For years, I'd lovingly woven the beginning vines through the fence bars until I had no more access. Now the vines are thick, and also curled on fence bars. For years I've spent time detaching, and attaching the vine's curly tendrils to better places to adhere (not to my adjacent roses!).

Today I can see through the fence, which for years I'd been trying to avoid, wanting to have my garden privacy. 

The revealed blesSing is that I can photograph the sun's golden glow reflecting on the fence, and see the moment's image in the photo. I share Sunrise Reflection with you.

- Joy Krauthammer

The above sunrise fence photo may not be as "lovely and peaceful" as another long horizon scape, 
but it was my most difficult personal photographic challenge this week!


SUNRISE Colors of My Soul I
photos & collage by Joy Krauthammer 


Before Dawn

- Joy Krauthammer

I have been to the Sahara Desert celebrating on my 50th birthday, travelling miles in the too hot dryness in strange land with dusk's roaring sandy winds slapping my face. On my birthday morning, following millions of bright stars strewn visible in the night sky with nothing to hide them, in the tiny tent for one by the tall large sand dune with pointy top edges, which I shall climb, and next to the still palm tree, my camel sleeping, alone I awakened. My senses have stirred. My soul knows the colors of the desert.

Joy's Tent View, Sahara, Morocco
© Joy Krauthammer

Here in my garden, the early morning firmament is now turning from darkness to dawn's colors of the gentle desert, stretching across the horizon, revealing golds and oranges, and steel grayish blue. My heart feels the joy of the colors.

In my garden are layers and layers of desert colors, uneven like you would create in a multi-colored, many layered sand filled bottle you can fill at a county faire. The lowest level at the wide horizon is lit up, starting to glow from the awakening sun.

Joy's Garden View, Porter Ranch, CA
© Joy Krauthammer

As their slight bulges are more evident, puffing as clouds breath emerges, I can see, feel, that if I were still a potter in Oneness kneading my precious clay, this is as it would appear if I had engobes of colored clay in my hands. Rolls of moistened layered earth tenderly in my hands as I deeply fold and push and pull and stretch and life emerges expansively from my fingers into shapes unknown. Ceramic vessels are born.

Or if I were still weaving with colors as in Jacob's coat (but sorrow prevailed), layers of woven material, hues and shadings of embraceable soft fabrics growing from threads of color, spreading out within my fingers fondling, as I attentively, silently work the yarns in the rattling loom, controlling the weft from edge to edge, interlacing across the horizon, through the warp, shuttling side to side with emerging patterns of scintillating sensations. My feet have lifted the heavy harnesses. I have woven the desert's sunrise! I am in ecstasy. Heavenly feet of fabrics folded waiting to be cut and sewn, transformed into artistic wearables in the desert.

I have layered G*d's fruits for the truffle dessert. Multi-colored rainbow layers of reds, oranges, yellows, purples, blue, green, visible through the clear glass crystal bowl. The container, a wedding gift thirty one years ago. Today the vessel filled with layers of a taste of visibly delicious nourishment to share.

Shekhinah giving birth to newness each moment, each day, from within the sky's desert colors, peeking through the heavens with little baby blue colored lips opening up, waters breaking in birthing, filling my heart with joy and hope and awe at the aliveness that is ours. I need the morning. I am grateful for a new day.

As I am a percussionist, I can hear the soft sounds emanating from the spaces between the folds and layers, the dark spaces needing light. The sounds of spirit coming to prayer and the congregation rises to sing their song. As the voices grow stronger, the lowest level of color gains more strength and shines in glorious brightness with the breaking of morning and the rising sun.

Colors are glowing as if just taken from the hot kiln, embers fueling the fire, and the brightness is piercing and burning. Look in amazement for a moment, don't touch. Ouch! Colors on the ribbons are being celebrated on my morning's woven tallit as I sing and dance and chant my prayers. I raise my multi-colored ribboned timbrel. She has travelled the world with me, sharing sacred space, song and blesSings. Colors are vibrating; raising their call to Shekhinah, from the sound of my chimes, and cymbals and drums, shakers, and ting shas, and jingling tambourines. Sounds of spirit. Miriyahm HaNeviah / the Prophetess in the desert is with us. We stand joined as layers in all colors in prayer and healing hope and love. HalleluYAH!!!!

As a photographer, I record for memory, the layers of dawn's colors emblazoned in my neshama / my soul. I layer the photos together, collaging them, framed to enjoy.

I take colored markers and paints and brushes and feathers, sequins and sparkles and create layers and layers of colors of light on the black velvet card and beyond the borders on the blank white canvas. It is a birthing painting of expressed joy, of the Temple, of Ohr / light in the darkness.

I write the colors of the dawn so that I can capture and share them. Others want to know from where my strength comes. My strength comes from G*d greeting me in the early morning --dawn.

Yes, my last days (and years) have been hellish with layers and layers of sadness, pain, grief, torment, disappointments, desperation, delays, and fatigue, dealing with the disaster of a human being needing medical attention (and compassion) and relief is not yet found as my husband lays on life-support-- breathing and feeding, and emptying him, in yet another ICU.

Joy's Garden View, Porter Ranch, CA
© Joy Krauthammer

Yet with the sun's arrival, I know it is a new day, a new beginning, and I can face it with strength and courage, as I always do. It is harder for me when the clouds block the morning light from my neshama / my soul. A warrior I am. A Caregiver Angel Warrior! My weapons of war are the colors and layers and hope of each new morning's Dawn.

Modah ani l'fanecha Melech chai v'kayahm. Shehechezarta bi nishmati b'chemlah rabah emunatecha.

I am grateful to You, living, enduring Source of All BlesSings, for restoring my soul to me in compassion. You are faithful beyond measure.

One love, shalom and abundant blessings of health and joy to you,
Joy Krauthammer
Serve G*d With Joy
"Ivdu Et HaShem B'Simcha"

December 20th, 2005

Post Script
My husband, z'l, died 17 Tevet, exactly four weeks after I wrote this, following six months of artificial life-support.
May his memory be for a blesSing. Amayn

12/18/2010  5771
Five years ago, this Hebrew week of 17 Tevet, my husband, z'l, died. In his zechut / merit, today I created two photo collages; my very first in this Picasa 'scatter' style. Marcel was a computer maven. I was a photographer. These photos represent the Divine inspiration that I received while a Caregiver Angel Warrior, in order to do my service to the Holy One. Baruch Hashem.

In response to G*d's paintings which I record,
my spiritual Jerusalem Chareidi, Reb Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen, wrote to me:

The colors of your soul are beautiful, my dear sister.
May Marcel's neshamah have an aliyah, and may we experience the final stage of human history, when Hashem will restore the departed souls to their healed and whole bodies.
Shavua Tov!

SUNRISE Colors of My Soul II
photos & collage by Joy Krauthammer ©

All photos ~ Joy's Garden View, Porter Ranch, CA ©  Joy Krauthammer
As dawn breaks I go outside in my bare feet to feel the earth, and climb more than a dozen feet up the steep dirt slope to get a better unobstructed Eastern view of the Divine One's painting. (I guess it is like a giant Mizrach pointing toward Jerusalem.) A fig tree branch along the way, helps to support me both up and down the slippery slope, especially if there are squishy fallen figs.

I am pleased to learn from Arunesh, in New Delhi, that the Sanskrit word 'arunesh' translates to the 'first rays of the sun'.
The photos above are of the first rays of the sun.
May arunesh shower us with blesSings.

More colors:


Psalms of My Soul 
Grateful for Divine Dance 

Sephirat Ha Omer - day 35,  5 full weeks
Malchut sh b'Hod 

- Joy Krauthammer

In years past I always loved dancing both live, and alone to Gabrielle Roth.

In the early 1990's during one of my summer solo driving sojourns up the Coast to Esalen Institute, I bought a Gabrielle Roth video at the Heart Beat bookstore gallery in Big Sur, CA. I'd never heard of Gabrielle, didn't know what the video was about, but the cover art energy felt good as I held in my hand, a '5 Rhythms' video, and a natural skin frame drum in my other hand. It was the first video I'd ever purchased and I didn't even own a VCR. 

After waking in my cabin, gazing at the ocean waves and chanting my prayers, and before daily week-long workshops-- in the early 7 am morning dance hour at Esalen, I would totally love to move my body to whatever the sunrise leader was playing (especially Leonard Cohen's "I'm Your Man"). I didn't realize I was dancing to the same '5 Rhythms'; I did knew the dancing made me feel good, playful, and I could surrender in the inner Splendor of being in Malchut and Hod. For several annual summer trips, dancing at Esalen started off each divine day for me.

Soaking in Esalen's late into the wee hours natural springs hot tubs on the Pacific Ocean's edge of the Big Sur cliff's, and having Esalen massages were good too, as was the natural garden food decorated with edible red nasturtium flowers. I loved walking through the garden and all the hilly green and moist mystical magical grounds. 

A year after my video purchase, a Sarah's Tent spiritual friend invited me to dance at an LA event, and I went and I still didn't make the connection. I went home to the Valley after wildly dancing with this woman Gabrielle Roth with whom I had been unfamiliar, and with her African drummer, who just happened to be my LA private djembe teacher, Nigerian Yoruba priest, Ayo Adeyemi; Small synchronistic world filled with joy and Hashgachah Pratit, Divine Guidance. (See my Babatunde Olatunji site:  http://babatunde-olatunji.blogspot.com )

Some time later I put the threads and beats together; A little beshertness/meant to be. I looked for and found the unopened dance video with the inspiring cover, bought a VCR, and loved watching the tape over and over again, wearing out my carpeting.  I rarely had watched TV, so this was a different step, watching and dancing at the same time. Discovering a ritual dance community in LA kept up my joyous aliveness.

Wish I hadn't badly damaged my knees, or I'd still be crazily happily dancing with all my body and soul (and not just spiritually drumming for ritual prayer-filled dancers)…with Gabrielle in all her rhythms.

Every summer I showed up at the Heart Beat store at the same time, pulled into the parking lot, which was right on time for Sunday night Esalen dinner down Highway 1, and I checked into my cabin, just as sunset arrived. Jerusalem, Bali, Sedona and Big Sur-- favorite lands for my neshama/soul. In gratitude and awe, I still feel Big Sur.

Each subsequent summer after my first Heart Beat visit, most amazing for me is that the gallery owner looked at me as I entered the shop, recognized me from 12 months earlier, and joyously exclaimed, "Same day, same time!" I was a good customer with a healthy heart beat and my heart beats in memory of all that I received.

BlesSings for dancing health, wholeness, peace, revealed miracles, creativity, discovery, wonder, blooming gardens, majestic sunrises, love and joy,
"Serve G*d With Joy"

Edible Nasturtium
© Joy Krauthammer
~ ~ ~

Women's Drum Day

Women's Drum Day: a birthing review

Joy Krauthammer


I want to share with you something of my journey yesterday written in letter form to Women's Drum Day festival organizer, and her response to me. I had closure last week in Jewish community and with my daughter and sister, with a meaningful, deeply thought out, ritual matzeivah /grave monument unveiling for Marcel, z'l. Now I am able to continue to transform and transition to my own life in joy, as I reclaim and renew myself. There is a photo of the unveiled matzeivah, and if you want to receive it, let me know.

Yesterday, at Remo's Women's Drum Day, I was an early in the day Tibetan singing bowls meditation presenter following the opening of the Spanish women announcing with conch shells and incense, the Four Directions, the ancestors and honoring mother earth. Each year, a few different women are asked to come to lead a day for women.

Wanting to dress as feminine and magical as possible, I wore a tubular purple head-band across my forehead, with sprinkles of seed beads and sequins that I had purchased in Jerusalem, in the Old City.   My hair was wild, wavy and grey, held in place a little by the head-band. I wore a goddess outfit by URU, purchased over a dozen years ago, sewn and layered from pieces of sheared purple, pink silks, light in color and billowy feeling. I wore a sheared silk purple jacket over, with designs of stars and swirls and matching plum colored soft ballet like shoes. I went barefoot in my purple painted toes. I wore my triple amethyst purple dangly earrings and I wore my Mogen Dovid on my neck as always, and my triple birthing in the shell pearl necklace that I bought in Tahiti.

I am happy to let you know that yesterday, I was asked by the organizer, Laney, to please return each year to the circle of women who come together at this time. That felt good to me, and it means that I am being and doing something right. I shared lavender from my garden and other sweet things of nature. I shared poetry. I shared sound and chanting. I share the reverberating sounds of the crystal and Tibetan singing bowls, bells and gongs. I shared color and textures. I had lying around my altar space, the immense white silky Tibetan shawl I purchased in Tibet. I had purple-lit candles floating in a round clear bowl of water. I was surrounded by visual memories of loved ones-- friends, ancestors, sister (a crocheted bag she made for me filled with my mother's Chinese bells. There was a lot of purple in the sensual environment that I prepared for the women. The purple scarves were from everywhere, and made by friends, and orange oil from Morocco, coral and stones from spiritual spots in the universe.

I welcomed the next generation of women. With all my flowing grey, I could do this.  I shared a Brucha for hamotzi / blesSing for bread. I invited others in to lead with me, like the woman becoming ordained next month, as Chaplain.  I was more expansive than a couple years ago when I have presented but then had my absence from greater community. It took courage from me, along with my joy and intention. I felt greater freedom to be me. I think that when I am at the pearly gates, the Compassionate One will not have to ask me if I "was like Zushia?"  It is growth for me. I asked Hashem to give this gift to me so that I could share. I was received. I am grateful.

I am doing a healing meditation somewhere else, Gaia Festival, in a deep canyon, Temescal Canyon, after Shavuot, in a month. I return hopefully from my son-in-law's Boston graduation, and a Reb Zalman Torah retreat in the Berkshires, the night before.

Because it is Remo's Women's Drum Day, I am glad to be playing a Remo drum, even if an Ocean Drum, not a djembe, in addition to my singing bowls and bells and gongs.  I transformed my WUHAN large gong into WOMAN gong. I surrounded the bamboo gong stands with purple-feathered boas, and purple silk scarves.

I thought to bring doubles of Ocean Drums and rain sticks to make the room fill with sound more easily, so the women did not have to wait longer to receive. I asked Christine to double partner with me, as I had in the past. I love the combination of the levels of sound in the pairs of rain sticks and the pairs of Ocean Drums.  I had purchased the large Remo Ocean Drum many years ago in Abinante Music Store in Monterey, 1992?, way before I even was present at Remo and I am drumming at Remo for ten years. I concentrate on making the Ocean drum sound as natural as possible in its movement, because it is easy for it to be jumpy in starting and ending. The same smooth movement is attributed to the rain stick. Later I taught Valeska how to use the rain stick more easily by twirling it. I also gave Valeska the opportunity to try the Crystal singing bowl. This is a young woman, a child, of extraordinary experience and wisdom.

I am so glad that you were happy with my sound meditation yesterday.
I had not shared this with you, but yesterday, in addition to it being the day of the  # 1 Jewish Festival of the year, the day also fell into a season within my religious tradition of not celebrating with "music." Yet the days are filled spiritually with purifying ourselves, so this we did! True. The season of 49 days is called, the Counting of the Omer-- A time from Pesach to Shavuot, the 25th day, exactly in the middle.  

Laney, thank you for the opportunity to be myself, to receive and to give, to grow, and to continue the transition time I have been in with great transformation since the years of sickness, death of my husband, z'l, a year ago, and grieving period filled with religious ritual, and healing.

Today I shall eat my plate of bean sprouts, left over from yesterday's Thai meal.  
Maybe you will go to Gaia Festival with me and discover and play.

One love, shalom and abundant blesSings of health and joy to you,
"Serve G*d With Joy"

From: "Clevenger, Laney
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2007
To: Joy

morning o joyful one,
Thank you so much for your sweet heartfelt words.  My heart is very grateful...for you and your presence yesterday.  It was a truly wonderful day!

It was somewhat hectic when everyone was leaving, that I didn't get to give you a final hug of gratitude and love before you left.

I thought your presentation was perfect.  I watched you move around with such grace and ease...I felt you played from your heart and soul...and it was beautiful.  The bowls are such a valuable tool for us to have at the WDDs...and I'm sure the ladies all enjoyed them, felt them, and valued the energy you shared with us all.  I can't think of anything you'd need to change...even with all your pillows and scarves...it was beautiful.  ...I play the ocean drum....so next time, I'd be glad to do that to assist you.

It was a perfect day!  Thank you again, for your sweet feminine presence yesterday...you played an important part of the day...and I know everyone is grateful.

see you soon,  great blessings to you,

From: JOY
Sent: Sunday, April 29, 2007 
To: Clevenger, Laney (NBC Universal)

Dear Laney,

Again, congratulations on a lovely, expansive, sacred Women's Drum Day.

You put so much effort into creating the womb for us to be birthed into drumming and dancing and breathing, feeling, seeing and touching, tasting, hearing. You too had the lovely lavender for aroma senses to be activated into gentleness.  I offered mine, hand picked from my garden this morning, from my glass bowl for other to enjoy. I gave my flowers in my vase to women who helped me. Thank you for remembering the water bowl for my floating round small purple candles. I thought that would add to our senses.

Each subtle touch you prepared so thoughtfully was appreciated in setting the environment for pleasure, play, safety and joy.
Your tent of hanging colors, loose and knotted are so feminine and enclosing of space-- An open tent for the women of the tribe.

We transformed the billows of chiffon into another setting when the "four directions" women led us. Hearing the conch shell and receiving the incense and translated words felt universal.
Shaking shakers and turning four times felt inclusive as a beginning.
The women leaders were wonderful.

I loved being greeted by the delights of the senses: your dark chocolate soy nuts, altars, flowers beginning at the front door with ribbons dancing, candles, flowing water fountain, even seeing a stone called Joy, and at the entry, Christine with her pelican feathers and smudging and inner joy sparking as always. I liked how we could each flow with the other.

For the morning session, I listened to what the women said about why they were there, and I tried to pay special attention to how I played the Tibetan singing bowls for them, when I walked around, especially, when there was an individual need expressed. I was glad that the women were able to get off their chairs with encouragement at my invitation and lie down on the floor. I wanted them to have the most relaxing effect from my intentions in bowl playing.

One woman later told me how she loved it when the hem of my long silk skirt of many purples and textures, touched her skin as I walked around the women lying on the floor in their meditation. She said it was like the "hem of the skirt from the New Testament." I am ignorant of that, but know of the bells and pomegranates on the hem on the Kohanim in Temple times of Old Testament.

This year I shared a little poetry of sound at the beginning in addition to my words of meditation guidance. I shared a little "Ohming" at the end. I wonder if these were helpful, instead of my going straight into the bowl playing...

I did not play my bells from my ancestral matriarchy. I wonder if more of my gong playing would have been better,  or was that enough?  I have paid people to gong me for an hour. I pay to have people "bowl" me for half an hour, or less. I wanted the women to experience the individual sessions as I played over their bodies, with the bowls, ocean drums and rain sticks. I gave my all in offering the healing sounds for magic, relaxation and transformation. I chose bowls that I felt would resonate best for the very large space as the women were throughout the area. I hope that they received the sounds even when I was not directly by each one.  At times, I played sitting by my altar space mixing, overlaying the sounds. I would appreciate any feedback from you to learn for next time.

I do think that I offered sensory overload at my own altar. I was so happy finding so many sensual pieces of scarves, purple feather boas, pillows etc., etc. I may have over done it. Next time, I think I need a simpler setting. Although I must say, I felt like I was in a favorite place of mine, a Moroccan casbah, and felt good that I could offer that experience. I did have Moroccan pillows with me, purchased from my journeys as well as unusual ethnic instruments, like the Indian jingles on long brass frame. I loved bringing the energies of the sacred places I have been, and the people who have gone to the next world, whose memories I have inherited with their tools, their textiles, their gongs and bells.

I love it when Chris blended in and played didgeridoo and flute with me (as arranged before hand) Christine carried the ocean drums and the rain sticks with me (to double up in the room space), and dear child in age, Valeska, too, carried a rain stick, taking her place in the "tribe" as leader and learner.  I felt badly that I did not thank them publicly when my set was over, but I did introduce them at the beginning. No many musicians acknowledge others at the beginning. I did thank them privately.

I loved it when Christine invited me back in with the singing bowl at the closing circle to join her "Indian drum" and Chris joined on didgeridoo as all the women sang and danced. At times, I offered Chris my singing bowl to play into, as the ancestral sounds of the 'didge' reverberate and become deeper, fuller, bellowing when in more enclosed space.

The spontaneity was lovely as we danced with my large, happy purple-ribboned (circusy) scarf while dancing with our small colors of scarf as mirrors and beyond. That was delightful, fun, joyous. I loved Christine's first time, original exercise.  I loved it when the immense scarf became a canopy for us to dance through.

Chris really got us all into the Afro-Cuban mix. She is so skilled. I never knew to hold the claves like a hot dog!

I was glad for the deep breathing by Janice. It was fun to choose a color to sit by, although I would have liked for the facilitator to open up to us earlier, to why we chose those colors for ourselves at that moment. I did not go to the purple triangular slice of color, but I chose RED. I fell asleep so am not sure what transpired during her hour except that I had some weird dreams (about a rabbi, former teacher of mine, recently deceased.  (If you get a chance, let me know what I missed, if you were awake. Hearing others snore, I know I was not alone. Shivasana / resting was always my favorite part of yoga, like being in kindergarten.)

Young Valeska was brave and open enough, alone, to share the experience she had, when asked to share. Such a model. I am glad that I acknowledged the next generation.
In Hebrew, our blessings and teachings include "L'Dor V'Dor" / from generation to generation.
Valeska exemplifies this and she is always so inclusive of others, motiivating us to come into the circle, and offering leadership to others. Is she nine years old?

I felt toward the end of the day, that I needed some Sufi type of intimate face-to-face interaction with all the women, close up, and sure enough we had the dance at the end where that happened and all smiles and eyes could be witnessed. A great ending. The women played the Indian hoop drums. I played the crystal singing bowl as we greeted each other in the circular dance.

Some wonderfully helpful ladies helped me put my instruments into the car, couple trips each. I felt cared for.  Of course I had to do the ten trips into my home on my own. I should take the women home with me.  Jerry graciously helped me in the morning and was there for us at Remo to have our day. I am grateful. And as you heard, most of the women used the word "grateful" in the closing.

It was Kris, the creator of the next "Gaia Festival", who really helped me along with other women, to carry my instruments.  She understood the word, "help". She learned a lot today from us at Women's Drum Day, and I am grateful that we could make space to announce her festival, and others' books, workshops, and music CDs and spiritual cruises...

Laney, I hope that you feel really good about your Women's Drum Day. It felt so good to finally see the chairs fill in the circle. The women came.  You are always so gracious, peaceful, creative, trusting, humble, responsive and sweet.

In addition to all the organizations and news places that I sent PR, I tracked down some goddess temples in greater LA, and sent all the contacts the flyers on WDD. Did you ever find out how today's women found us? How many from prior WDD's?

It was fun to do brainstorming, gestating, with you months ago, even if Women's Drum Day did not happen at the Spring Equinox. But you surely birthed, anyway. You had faith and were supported.  Thank you, my friend.

May you be  blessed to go from strength to strength.
You Are A BlesSing.

One love, shalom and abundant blesSings of health and joy to you,
"Serve G*d With Joy"

Cc: Christine Stevens

Jerry Zacarias