Dancing through Life by Elana Mizrahi
It’s amazing in life how the very thing that draws us back, has the power to propel us forward.
On a Sunday afternoon a little bit over a year ago my husband, who at the time was abroad visiting his very ill mother, told me, “Elana, it’s very serious, please have the children say Psalms and pray.” The one sentence, which set me back, propelled me forward and I knew where I had to go-to the Kotel.
I quickly cut up some apples and snacks, grabbed my children, and made my way to a friend’s house. I told my children that they should say Psalms for Abuelita (grandmother) and have the other children there say blessings on the snacks for her to have a complete and total recovery. I quickened my pace and in doing so dropped the entire plate of apples on the ground. The food dispersed everywhere and I cried out in frustration. It felt like a bad omen.
“It doesn’t matter,” I told the kids. It’s the intention that matters. Just say Psalms for Abuelita.” I dropped them off and ran to the Kotel, which for me, thank G-d is not far away. As I poured my heart out to G-d to please answer my prayers, my mother in-law’s beautiful soul returned to Him. In the exact moment of my pleading, He answered me. His answer was not what I expected, not what I wanted, but He did hear me and answer me.
I started to climb the stairs from the Kotel and called my in-laws’ home, hoping to speak with my husband, to tell him, it’s okay, I just prayed at the Kotel. My sister in-law answered the phone and told me moments before Abuelita passed away. I sank to the floor. How could I get up? How would I tell my children? How can I accept this? I had no choice, one must go forward.
Even though I knew that the situation was very serious, even though it had been eight months since my mother in-law’s diagnosis, I was totally in shock. I couldn’t believe that a woman who was so strong, such a pillar of faith and stability, could become ill and die. She had so much faith that I was sure that she would get better. I was heartbroken and disappointed. A fall, a set-back, and then a thought propelled me forward. My mother in-law passed away knowing that her life had a purpose. She passed away knowing that G-d was totally in control, that He was with her in every step and in every moment. She died nobly, a proud Jewish woman, a regal Jewish mother.
My understanding of faith changed in that moment. Faith is living with G-d. Faith is being present in the moment and realizing that all our struggles are to strengthen us. Faith is accepting. Everything has a reason and a purpose.
During my mother in-law’s shiva (seven day mourning period) I decided that I would take all the articles that I wrote over the years, articles about being a Jewish woman, a Jewish mother, about life’s challenges, about life’s cycles and the Jewish calendar, and I would make a book dedicated to her and to the Jewish woman. I told a friend, a friend who only two weeks before I had been at the birth of her daughter, my idea and she loved it. She happens to be a talented graphic designer and helped me put the book together.
The book, which I called Dancing Through Life was written for every Jewish woman-at all stages- to help us connect more to our Creator. The theme is that life is a dance, our set-backs and falls, our stumbles and trips, they are part of the dance and the purpose is to keep moving. We have the choice to see a fall as a fall, or as a step in a beautiful dance called life. It’s a selections of short essays (perfect for the busy Jewish mother!) that draw upon my own daily trials and lessons, mixed with the teaching of our holy sages and practical ideas that are meant to G-d willing, inspire. Rereading my own book, I laughed and I cried. I’m sure that you will find yourself laughing and crying too.
May we all merit to dance through life, finding joy and faith in all that we do. May we merit to see the beauty in everything and everyone, and most importantly in ourselves, beautiful Jewish mothers.
Available at your local Jewish bookstore and online at http://www.feldheim.com/dancing-through-life.html
Please feel free to contact me! www.elanamizrahi.com
Elana Mira Mizrahi is a writer and lecturer. In addition to teaching, Elana also specializes in women’s health as a reflexologist, massage therapist, doula and Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy practitioner. Originally from California and a graduate of Stanford University, she now lives with her husband and children in the holy city of Jerusalem.