Friday, June 16, 2017

Shechinah at #FORCE17

Last Friday afternoon, as I do each week, I texted a few friends a Shabbat shalom message: “Shabbat shalom from Orlando and #FORCE17 – annual hereditary cancer conference. 🌞”

One of them responded with this: “Shabbat shalom to you, too, in sunny Florida. Will there be a Shabbat service?”

Our conversation continued.

Me: “The place is crawling with M.O.T.s, but Friday night is reserved for “show and tell,” a different kind of ‘service’ for those facing tough decisions.”

My friend: “HaShem is found in many places and in many ways.”

Me: “She (Shechinah, the feminine divine presence of God) definitely is here. There’s something that feels very sacred about empowered women and pikuach nefesh (saving a life).”

My friend: “It will be a wonderful Shabbat, even if you are not in temple."

Me. “Indeed.”

#FORCE17 was this year’s annual hereditary cancer conference organized by FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered , a grass-roots, non-profit organization devoted to providing support, research, resources, and advocacy to those affected by hereditary cancer. Approximately one in 400 people in the general population carries a BRCA mutation, significantly increasing their lifetime risk of breast and ovarian cancer (in women) and male breast cancer and prostate cancer (in men), as well as raising the likelihood for others, including pancreatic cancer and melanoma. Hereditary mutations can be transmitted from either parent to both sons and daughters. Among Ashkenazi Jews, the prevalence of BRCA mutations is 10 times greater than in the general population; approximately one in 40 individuals carries a mutation, and most are unaware of their status as carriers.

Sunday, June 4, 2017


After my Shabbos nap yesterday, I unintentionally cleaned a closet because I needed to get to a suitcase that was buried within it. In the process, I came across my wedding’s “old” and “blue” in the form of a pair of my grandmother’s garters – on the erev of what would have been my 28th wedding anniversary.

Many would call this coincidence; my friend, Rebecca, would call it #bashert. So, I snapped a photo of the garters and texted it to her with a message that began, “Here’s #bashert for you…”

She replied with this: “28 = כח = strength.” (Every Hebrew letter has a numerical value and it happens that the two letters that equal 28 –  kaf, which equals 20 and chet, which equals 8 – spell the Hebrew word koach, which means strength.)

Indeed, I am grateful that 15 years ago, I mustered enough emotional strength to see (finally) where I was, to change course, and to steer my life in the direction I wanted it to go. Yasher koach to me -- and to everyone since then who's helped me get (and keep) my life on track.