Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Man With The Map To Awe

I grew up having had many opportunities to meet celebrities. No one, however, ever evoked a sense of awe in me. That is -- other than the very humble man celebrating his ninety-fifth birthday today in British Columbia. My/our Beloved Murat.

I admit to having felt a surge of joy that lifted my heart on my sixteenth birthday. I had gone backstage to meet Liberace with my father on the special nightclubbing “date” he and I were having for the occasion. And, Jim Bacchus tickled me, no end, when I heard Mr. Magoo’s voice surprisingly slide forth from a seemingly “ordinary” man I met one day, visiting Desilu Productions, when I was a kid. Years after the fact – when I learned that the Lone Ranger was never, ever seen without his mask, I was delighted to recall that I had seen him on a backstage lot sans mask. Still no awe!

My father owned and operated Custom Corner (specializing in custom auto parts and design) on Vine Street and Willoughby during the 1950s and into the early 1960s. Desilu Productions sat diagonally across the street from Custom Corner. My father originally launched the business with renowned custom car designer, George Barris who went on to create the Batmobile, the car for “My Mother The Car” and the Knight Rider as well as many other unique, one-of-a-kind cars. Custom Corner was the primary source through which these childhood celebrity encounters arose.

So here it is Murat’s 95th birthday!

Now that is AWESOME. And, I am wishing so much to be a part of the celebrating though I am thousands of miles away. I think to contribute something to the occasion by telling visitors to this blog about the "awe”

Murat knows how to guide people to intentionally attain. Murat has a map for climbing to the peak of the Mountain of Awe. He got it from his tribal elders as a boy. Trained by his elders and then beyond them, Murat developed the discipline they taught him that is a definite path to AWE. He has painstakingly written about that discipline and path in his numerous books.

Check out: "Ahmsta Kebzeh: The Science of Universal Awe" by Murat Yagan. And, Murat’s autobiography, "I Come From Behind Kaf Mountain." Is telling you this enough for me to do on such a wonderful occasion? What to do? What to do? Maybe, just say --

Happy 95th Birthday to Beloved Murat!

With love and deepest gratitude from Anastasia

who so much wishes she could be with you today.

Monday, December 6, 2010

In Your Face

I’ve been a devoted student of human nature for close to four decades now, yet only lately do I seem to be truly getting it; the majority of the people – all over the world – are either too lazy, stubborn, self-centered, not fully committed or disinterested to do the simplest, most direct things to make peace a reality.

(Maybe feeling hopeless, discouraged or not truly believing that he/she can be the peace for which they are yearning.)

The essential ingredients that can generate and sustain peace and well-being in communities already exist in almost everybody, everywhere! We human beings are created in such a fashion as to, not only have a dark and potentially evil side, we also have within us the capacity for kindness, generosity, compassion, gratitude and cooperation. These beautiful, life-affirming human characteristics – as well as many others – are a natural part of us.

They are the seeds of living in small ”zones of peace” (i.e. small communities).

If these seeds of human goodness are nurtured, they can grow into larger community structures that can generate human, living conditions wherein someday violence can become obsolete. Because it would no longer necessary. Why is this so hard to figure out? And act on today and everyday?

From Anne Frank --"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

I learned the "awe" that can be attained in community life from Murat. He learned it from the ancient cultural traditions within which he was raised.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Living In Win-Win

Visit today's posting and read how New Horizons Small "Zones of Peace" Project "Talks Turkey" 

YES! We are getting it together on the ground level.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Now Be Thankful

If I were that turkey looking at us on this blog I’d be thankful to still be alive the weekend after Thanksgiving. However, if I were the “turkey” the politicians are making out of our democratic system, I’d be ashamed. (The Random House College Dictionary defines “turkey” as a poor, unsuccessful theatrical presentation (i.e. a flop). In other words a “turkey” can be defined as an intense dramatic production that bombs. Just like our recent elections.) Polarization that seeks itself again and again simply for its own gratification; the high that ceaseless conflict generates -- has little sustainable benefit as far as I can “See.” Polarization can offer an opportunity for creative tension. In the hands of exceptional leaders polarization can create an opening for exploring options; getting to, not only the facts that savvy politicians and the business community know how to adroitly manipulate -- but to clarity, even to reach to the edges of “truth.” At least the best truth we can humanly reach. Polarization at the base-est level sought by the majority of our so-called leaders these days -- does not and cannot even come close to the elegant solutions that are genuinely creative and serve humanity. Maybe I am somewhat politically naïve (though that is unlikely having spent my entire adult life in and around the nation’s capitol) -- but I still believe that our Founding Fathers had something other in mind than devising a long-lasting government scheme of institutionalizing personal and political bashing. I grew up believing that our two party democratic structure meant a system of checks and balances; a means by which to attain peace – in as orderly fashion as possible. (Actually I really grew up when Watergate gave me my “last straw” about Washington politics. And, whoever in my generation has ever really gotten completely past the grief of those three assassinations of the 1960s?) On the other hand, maybe our Founding Fathers were truly that shortsighted given the absence of "Founding Mothers" signing the Declaration of Independence. Or is this thinking on my part just women-ese, merely an outgrowth of my undergraduate Women’s Studies education? Still in my mind, it just makes sense, if you think about it, that if you want to attain global peace, imagine even surviving, you do need to learn to do it on your own home turf. Even if all you really want is to get some practice while your main objective is to take over the world. Anyway, it’s Thanksgiving weekend. Peace on earth, goodwill to man, woman and child time. And, I am thankful for the mentors I've had, men and women, who showed me that win-lose is not an option in true HUMAN relations. Only win-win outcomes and elegant solutions build a way to lasting peace, even if the process is long and arduous. That’s what I want my legacy to be.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Alienation, Anti-Semitism and Assimilation

Identity: Culture and Conflict
I had no idea that returning to my tribe would be so complex.

Now a bit more than four years later I sometimes want to run and hide from how involved the experience is becoming.

Other times I feel as if the whole of it; my journey from anti-Semite to assimilated -- (or is that “assimilating?”

Probably the latter as in "evolving" rather than evolved) -- is so totally beshrt I couldn’t have missed it if I tried.

As Sue often says, scanning her mystical mind, for wisdom and possibly a story,

“What hits you couldn’t have missed you" (original author unknown).

There I was overwhelmed by the enormous task of finding a way to navigate the mainstream, seeing world after an eight year sabbatical due to having lost my eyesight.

Sighted, once again,. I knew I was called to do some serious housecleaning of both my external, physical space as well as every nook and cranny of my mind-spirit, making amends to my Jewish heritage appeared on my to-do list.

Okay, I said to myself, time to reach out to the local synagogue and acknowledge that I, too, am one of “them.”

Having thus pushed myself to tremulously pick up and search the local phone book for “synagogues” (people who can not see do not read phone books), I located what appeared to be the main, perhaps only, synagogue in my nearest town (remember I live in the mountains).  

I dialed the number, filled with fear and trepidation.

“Hello” a friendly voice said on the other end.

Uh oh, my next words did not come easily.

Even got stuck in my throat for an instant.

However, having gotten this far an immediate plan arose in my mind.

Quick thinking and an innate ability to be articulate saved me from stumbling. I would tell the voice that I was a new Jew in town and I would like to meet with the rabbi.

My plan hadn’t really quite evolved that far. Only picking up the phone and calling were my immediate agendas. But what came out served to carry me forth.

Then my conscience did prick me a bit.

Was I really new in town? (Stories for another time.)

And, was I really Jewish or not?

I had publicly pronounced that I had "quit being Jewish" many times (probably only to non-Jews and to my poor Mom).

So was I telling the truth here or not?

After more than thirty years of pulling farther and farther away from my tribe, what was the deal for me on this point.

(The main impetus for me to quit being Jewish, I have only recently remembered; a situation brought about, first and foremost, by the sexually inappropriate conduct of a rabbi I had sought out during a time of grave family distress.)

 Funny how little things can slip your mind.

(Actually it was not at all a small thing. Nor is it – or was it -- funny.)

Clumsily, bumbling forth – “Of course,” said I, “a meeting with the rabbi would be just the thing.”

Alienation, anti-Semitism, assimilation; the "return of a former anti-Semitic Jewess, recovering Jewish American Princess" -- Free now of joining any clubs.

Or so I thought, An adventure in progress -- to be continued.

Monday, October 11, 2010

“Which tribe was that again, dear?”

Identity: Culture and Conflict

I phoned my friend Gloria the other day.

I talk to her often.

I am, apparently, an entertaining interlude during her more humdrum workday world as a county social worker.

We’ve been friends for almost a quarter of a century. She’s one of the best.

Gloria must truly love me.

Not infrequently, though said with a chuckle, she lets me know she is patiently tolerating my various eccentricities.

Often, she calls me“Portia,” star of a forties-era radio soap opera, “Portia Faces Life.”

Typically she begins a conversation, asking if I’ve been facing life.

A recent conversation went something like this:

Gloria: “So how’s Portia, today?

What’s new? Are you facing life?

Me: “Today’s episode is that I’ve returned to my tribe.

Gloria: “Your tribe dear?

Did you move?

Aren’t you still up in the mountains?


Do you have some kind of tribe up there?

Me: Of course, I’m still in the mountains.

I just talked to you two days ago.

And, no! There’s no tribe up here yet.

(Me: referring to our retreat center development vision and our (in progress) remodeling project.)

What I’m talking about is that I decided, after immersing myself in prayers over the Jewish High Holidays, to officially return myself to my birth tribe; the one that came out of Egypt with the exodus.

Remember that one?

Gloria: Yes, dear. I know that one. I told you I once worked for a Jewish foundation in the Bay area way back when.

(Gloria, just celebrated her eighty-fifth birthday. She has lots of stories about “way back when.”)

Gloria (continuing): So which division of your tribe are you returning to?

The Orthodox? The Conservative? Or, the Reform?

Me: I don’t mean returning like that!

As far as religion goes, I am not joining a club. Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, those are religious clubs.

I consider myself a member of everything and nothing.

Like Ram Dass, if you remember him, I’m something you might call a pagan, Hind Jew or whatever?

Now that I’ve gotten my identity confusion cleared up, my interest is in honoring, celebrating and sharing my Jewish cultural heritage. And, doing my part for peace.

Gloria: “How’s it going so far for you?”

Me: “Well, it’s a bit mixed. I told a few of my friends (a few of the very few who are Jewish) about my newfound joy in being Jewish again.

They wanted me to hurry up and join their synagogue.

Then I told a Christian friend. She wanted to be sure that, even if I am born Jewish, that I believe in Jesus and get baptized.

By the time these conversations were over, I felt like I was back in sorority rush in college.

Like my vote was being solicited for a political election, with heavy penalties for not taking the “right” side.

I can see this returning I am intent upon is going to be a bit tricky.

I think it’s time I had some fun being Jewish.

But it might be a lot of work, just taking off my mask, the one that denies that I am Jewish.

To be continued…

Friday, October 1, 2010

Separation

Identity: Culture And Conflict

It has taken me thirty years or more to remember why and how it was that I had turned my back on Judaism.

There really was nothing much I could put my finger on.

(Dummie Me -- More recently I came to realiuze that a rabbi's ongoing sexual harrassment of me for fourteen years of my adult life had played a major part in my turning my back on Judaism. But it was not the only reason; spiritual seeking in the 70s, 80s and 90s had also played important roles as did my many upsets about the Middle East.

The story of my being a former anti-Semitic, recovcrying Jewish American Princess is a complex story. However, now as I become more and more accustomed to sharing my story and hearing the tales of others, it's even developing some humor.) 

I wondered about it on occasion. Yet, not enough to pursue.

Still, it was a bit curious.

Why had I, born and reared in a quasi-Orthodox Jewish family, reached a place of such intense disavowal of this heritage of mine?

To the point that – as my non-Jewish connections grew -- I became staunchly adamant that not only was I NOT a Jew. I was, further, an anti-Semite!

I didn’t really question my stance (though others did, now and then).

Somehow – I simply became less and less interested in Jews and Jewishness.

So much so that, over time, I believed none of it mattered anymore.

Time passed. I became an eclectically spiritual person, more pantheistic than anything, exploring Buddhism and neo-paganism in particular, not recognizing any missing link in my spirit.

Others around me, Jews and non-Jews alike, were doing similarly.

It was, after all, the '80s by then. I developed fewer and fewer Jewish friendships.

Over time, I came to respect the generic Jewish person and his/her apparent values less and less, particularly the monied and status-oriented ones.

These appeared akin to those of my family that I experienced as excessive. I didn’t “approve” of the immoderation.

This, too, fit in with the evolving mentality of my generation.

Though I tried to ignore my feelings they didn’t go away. Instead, they went underground, buried beneath the surface of my conscious mind. Accessible, only if I would have been willing to take a deeper look. I resisted any inclination to do this. I understand this now.

Years passed. Because I was, also, during this time devoting my time to my almost constant book deadlines (ten years (1988 – 1998, writing my three manuscripts for Random House) -- and -- then lost my eyesight (1998 – 2003), I created a very solitary life for myself.

And, believed that this, too, was fine. Of course, 911 made a profound impact on me.

However, because I could only see as if through waxed paper, much of what was happening around me did not penetrate. I couldn’t really watch the news.

And, I interacted with others only slightly. Then one day -- in 2006 – as I was still at the beginning of my return to the mainstream world of sighted people, I realized that I had amends to make to my Jewish heritage.

Separation was not truly an option I could condone any longer in myself.

In fact, I began to see that in order to fully re-engage in mainstream life, I would need to sort out where I stood with this Jewish heritage of mine.

Somehow 911 had made this an imperative.

No longer would it work for me to “pass” in American life without this clarity. At least, not as me; the social activist I had become over the years.

To do this I needed to turn towards Judaism, not away from it.

Without my fully recognizing my intent, I, thus, set out on a journey that would lead me to investigate, not only my separation, but to discover for myself – for the first time -- what I value most about my cultural identity, both as an American and as a Jew. To be continued…

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Former Anti-Semitic, Recovering Jewish American Princess

Returning to my "tribe" and to my blogs.

(Also see New Horizons Small "Zones Of Peace" Project.)

My working formula -- a balancing act.

1, Defining who and what I am for myself and others;

2. Discovering the best ways for me to be true to myself (and my values) -- and -- to others;

3. Seeking ways to be true to myself, kind and generous to others --- and handle myself in a non-reactive manner.

A work in progress.

More to come.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Essence Of Awe



Immersing myself fully in the rituals and prayers of the Jewish New Year for the first time as I have not done in decades, I re-discovered that the "Days of Awe' and the "Days of Repentance" are the same days.
Awe = Repentance (and compassion and forgiveness (and all other of life's holiest and most beautiful gifts).

L'shana tova -- May we all be inscribed in the book of the Lord for a good year to come.

Because "The Cycles of My Healing Journey" are rooted in my Jewish heritage and the healing and wholeness I have learned in this way, I offer them here in completed form by way of celebrating the Jewish New Year, 5771.

The Cycles of My Healing Journey -- Complete (Parts 1 - 3)

by Anastasia Rosen-Jones, New Horizons Executive Director and Founder (Copyright permission -- courtesy of New Horizons Support Network, Inc. Reprinted from “The Voice Of the New Horizons Support Network” Vol: 2, Number 1, January – April, 2000)

Many of us, today, finding ourselves standing on the threshold of a new era, the 21st Century, are reviewing the past, present and future more conscientiously than, perhaps, ever before.

For me, the process of doing healing work has as its normal structure the implementing of reviews on a regular basis such as are currently being signaled by the new millennium. A healing process such as I am suggesting here begins with the identification of some kind of obstruction in the way of experiencing joy, fullness and the well being of one”s Essence.

From this starting point of recognition, the healing process adventurer begins a descent much like a deep sea diver into the very depths of the psyche, moving down through layers of defense: anger, terror and gut wrenching pain until at last the Essence is retrieved.

This is the sought after treasure that has been buried on the floor of the sea. Much to our delighted surprise, the rediscovery of the Essence carries with it even greater treasure than itself alone. With its resurfacing, a powerful sense of enlightenment, almost a jolt of knowingness, the experience of one’s Higher Self and a vast Cosmic Consciousness accompanies the cycle’s completion.

At this point the, the healing process journeyer is aware of the cycle’s culmination, accompanied by a significant shift into a state of well being. A powerful release of energy, formerly bound up, is now free for the individual to employ in new and creative ways.

I periodically find myself called to enter a healing cycle beginning with a significant loss or a major life transition that evokes a review of my past and present circumstances. The completion of such cycles, which have taken me anywhere from 1 months to five years of healing and cleansing, is generally marked by a definitive sense of rebirth.

The process offers me the necessary signposts for identifying the next steps I must take on my forward path of conscious evolution. This work creates not only an emotional and spiritual transformation, but also brings about significant physical changes down to the cellular level in my body.

The first time I set aside a period of time for healing of this type was after my father’s death in July, 1976. Guided by the wisdom of my stepmother, the journey was structured to comply somewhat with Jewish mourning rituals.

With additional guidance from one of my Transactional Analyst Clinical Trainers, Reverend Jim Morgan, I integrated what I was learning about confronting psychological obstacles with Jewish traditions (for mourning).

Little did I realize at the time I began that my efforts to manage the unexpected death of my father, my life’s hero, would transform my life forever more.

I began my most recent systematic review around Labor Day, 1999 following a corneal transplant. The events of the past year had created enough upheaval to signal the need for me to enter a cycle of attention focused on a major body-mind-spiritual healing and cleansing. From the onset, I committed myself to completing this in-depth passage by December 31, 2000.

Not everyone will choose to take the afforded opportunity of life altering situations for personal transformation. The choice to proceed on an “Adventure of A Lifetime” is a vary personal one with many influencing factors.

Having been exposed to severe loss and tragedy, beginning at the early age of seven, I saw the debilitating results of incomplete healing work that accrued in my family, following the birth and death of my baby sister.

When I finally discovered the advantages that could be gained by an in-depth healing of losses, I knew I would never again fall victim to having the joy of life disturbed indefinitely as a result of pulling back from a passage that ultimately could transform my losses into lessons and gifts.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Reflections, Day 9: Days of Awe, Days of Repentance

Eve of Yom Kippur

A note to my parents.

After I wrote my story of "Mom's" introduction to my new pagan identity of decades ago -- a wave of sadness came over me (so go the Days of Awe (and Repentance).

A piece of incomplete repentance due my Mom.

I was a challenge to her as the new bride of my father. And, ever after I'm sure.

This I've known, it seems, forever.

But now with more understanding and compassion than previously. I hadn't -- though -- until this moment felt the remorse of seeing in part -- how much sorrow it must have brought her.

And, the other elders of my family.

To see their next generation being so changed by the American way of life.

To havc seen people being tortured and murdered for a way of life -- their own -- and a heritage that the next generation -- mine -- could toss aside, as if almost a joke.

My pagan altar must have cut deeply into that place in my mom's mind, body and soul that remembered needing to hide the practices of Jewish traditions in a Shanghai, Jewish refugee camp (1939 -- 1945).

For my disregard, disrespect and insensitivity to that reality, up against my struggles to find me, I am sorry, Mom. Very sorry!

Somewhere there is a quiet resting place where the journey of immigrant Americans and assimilated Americans find healing and peace.

Maybe we are already there -- in "awe," Mom.

It was what you did with me my whole life after you came into it -- talk, have endless conversations.

That's what both you and Dad taught me! Conversations!

Now I teach that to others, Mom.

Talk things out!

Everything!

For always!

And, hold to your dignity and principles with it.

Simple, but not so easy.

Thanks Mom and Dad!

Only when and where we failed to take this action did things ever go awry.

I'll keep passing it on.

You taught me well; the secret to building "zones of peace," even if it takes a long, long time.

I'm just sorry it took me so long to learn.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Cycles of My Personal Healing Process

Day 8 Part 3 of 3 parts (Copyright permission -- courtesy of New Horizons Support Network, Inc.Reprinted from “The Voice Of the New Horizons SupportNetwork” Vol: 2, Number 1, January – April, 2000)

I began my most recent systematic review around Labor Day, 1999 following a corneal transplant. The events of the past year had created enough upheaval to signal the need for me to enter a cycle of attention focused on a major body-mind-spiritual healing and cleansing. From the onset, I committed myself to completing this in-depth passage by December 31, 2000.

Not everyone will choose to take the afforded opportunity of life altering situations for personal transformation. The choice to proceed on an “Adventure of A Lifetime” is a vary personal one with many influencing factors. Having been exposed to severe loss and tragedy, beginning at the early age of seven, I saw the debilitating results of incomplete healing work that accrued in my family, following the birth and death of my baby sister.

When I finally discovered the advantages that could be gained by an in-depth healing of losses, I knew I would never again fall victim to having the joy of life disturbed indefinitely as a result of pulling back from a passage that ultimately could transform my losses into lessons and gifts.

The end.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Cycles of My Personal Healing Process

Day 7 Part 2 of 3 parts
(Copyright permission -- courtesy of New Horizons Support Network, Inc.
Reprinted from “The Voice Of the New Horizons Support Network” Vol: 2, Number 1, January – April, 2000)

I periodically find myself called to enter a healing cycle beginning with a significant loss or a major life transition that evokes a review of my past and present circumstances.

The completion of such cycles, which have taken me anywhere from 1 months to five years of healing and cleansing, is generally marked by a definitive sense of rebirth. The process offers me the necessary signposts for identifying the next steps I must take on my forward path of conscious evolution. This work creates not only an emotional and spiritual transformation, but also brings about significant physical changes down to the cellular level in my body.

The first time I set aside a period of time for healing of this type was after my father’s death in July, 1976. Guided by the wisdom of my stepmother, the journey was structured to comply somewhat with Jewish mourning rituals. With additional guidance from one of my Transactional Analyst Clinical Trainers, Reverend Jim Morgan, I integrated what I was learning about confronting psychological obstacles with Jewish traditions (for mourning). Little did I realize at the time I began that my efforts to manage the unexpected death of my father, my life’s hero, would transform my life forever more. (To be continued.)

Reflections Day 6: How Our Local Jewish/Muslim Controvery Ended For Me

 "The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard"

After I posted my last blog, I pondered where to go next with my story. I decided to go to the end of it -- for now. Later, I can go back and tell more, as it becomes relevant for the purpose here; to provide something of value; lessons from which to learn.

That’s what storytelling offers. Insight!

So, how – in summary did it; the time of controversy end for me”?

Overall: Sorrow.

Jews versus Jews; Jews rejecting Muslims; Jews, pretending nothing was happening (like the emperor has no clothes); Jews isolating themselves from the greater community, dominantly Christian.

Polarization. Not good.

There was some progress on all sides. Great as first steps. Enough to save face -- and -- make a start.

Every step forward counts as a worthwhile endeavor. Not to be minimized.

Where there was silence – doing nothing -- it was -- is -- not without cost.

So let’s not do that one again!

Learn from the past and keep stepping forward so that someday we reach that place of “awe.”

My biggest lessons:

1. Jews cannot afford to be divided, if the true vision of a Jewish homeland is to be achieved. (Herzl The King: The Founder of Modern Israel, Norman Kotker, Chas. Scribner’s Sons, 1972)

2. Americans cannot be polarized and keep our peace secure! What’s my part? What can I do?

3. Conversation is an art to be treasured!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard (Excerpt)

by M. Anastasia Rosen-Jones with Marge Hulburt

How It Began For Me

In August, 2006, against a background of the wars in Iraq and the Middle East, a Jewish/Muslim controversy broke out in my backyard (Frederick News Post, August 18, 2006 – “Local Muslim Leader Talks Peace”).

As the newly elected, local president of a national Jewish women’s social action organization, I was thrust into the eye of the storm. With no advantageous place to run, I, thus, became a central participant in the drama that unfolded.

Because I am also a psychotherapist (retired), turned community development consultant and social activist, I had the skills and experience needed to resolve this volatile community crisis. By observing what was occurring systemically, I strategically assessed the situation – and -- figured out the proper steps to take. They worked superbly!

With the help of my volunteer corp – and – one single Jewish leader, we were successful. At least, temporarily -- and -- superficially.

However, because this was one of my very first significant community experiences; returning, as I was, to the mainstream after an eight year sabbatical due to my being blind for five years (1998 – 2003) -- and -- recovering from the ordeal for another three years (2003 – 2006), I was particularly vulnerable to the hostilities I saw all around me. And, though I paid a heavy price for my part in the drama, I was greatly transformed by it.

As I search my heart and mind, now, to, publicly, tell my version of the story of this “Middle East Crisis In My Backyard,” my heart is heavy, particularly at this time of the Jewish New Year. I want to tell my story with love and compassion. I will do my best. But this does not come easily to me. The circumstances, as I viewed them, hurt my heart, deeply – and -- called up a lurking shame in me of being Jewish.

Perhaps I expect too much of myself with this, love and compassion, as one of my major goals. Perhaps, given the present state of American Jewry, the controversies presently ravaging the United States in terms of Jewish/Muslim relations in our country and the Middle East, I can only weigh in with an attempt at balance for now.

The balance I seek between the best of my heartfelt desires – and – my very human instincts that hinder my attempts at complete clarity and compassion.

Nonetheless, here is my story – to be posted in bits and pieces on this blog. Hopefully what I am offering will serve all who read it to come closer to one another in peace.

Originally, I wrote this story out in 2007 and 2008. At that time I was telling it, pretty much, as I saw it as a consultant and experienced it as president of the women’s organization. I hadn’t, yet, come to the core of the matter in my heart, however. I hope I can get to more of it here with the informality that blogging offers.

The draft as I completed it in 2008 caused outrage in the local Jewish community. As a result – after much conversation (particularly with Sue), contemplation and negotiation with members of the board of the local, Jewish women’s organization, I promised to keep it quiet for a time.

That time of silence is now past.

There is much that can be learned from what occurred here in terms of modern Jews in America, their relationships with Muslims, the greater community surrounding them – and – with one another. Much that is needed at this critical time in America.
For now, this is my best effort to tell the truth of what I saw; as a key participant in the unfolding drama, as a professional with many years of experience in conflict resolution, as a woman who paid a dear price for my actions – and – now as a former anti-Semitic, recovering Jewish American Princess who must speak her mind.

With conviction in my heart for the well-known Jewish pledge, “Never again!”

I am, after all, "only one, but still I am one."

Dayenu -- it has to be enough.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Reflections, Day 4: Days of Awe, Days of Repentance

As I came awake this morning, aware of this day's call to the reconciling and healing responsibilities of the Jewish New Year, I recalled an article I wrote about ten years ago. It was written as I took another, similar inventory at the start of the new millenium. As I read it over, not having paid much attention to it for many years, I noticed how alike are the journey of healing from loss, the tasks of the Days of Repentance, the search for awe and the reconciling of problems of diversity and polarization.

Each requires a good deal of soul searching, personal responsibility, forgiveness and compassion for others, if one is to do it properly. It really is all essentially the same; searching for the mountain high of awe or the diving to the depths of one's Essence. I offer the article in parts as I wrote it ten years ago, beginning below.

The Cycles of My Personal Healing Process Part 1 of 3 parts By Anastasia Rosen-Jones, New Horizons Executive Director and Founder (Copyright permission -- courtesy of New Horizons Support Network, Inc. Reprinted from “The Voice Of the New Horizons Support Network” Vol: 2, Number 1, January – April, 2000)

Many of us, today, finding ourselves standing on the threshold of a new era, the 21st Century, are reviewing the past, present and future more conscientiously than, perhaps, ever before. For me, the process of doing healing work has as its normal structure the implementing of reviews on a regular basis such as are currently being signaled by the new millennium.

A healing process such as I am suggesting here begins with the identification of some kind of obstruction in the way of experiencing joy, fullness and the well being of one’s Essence. From this starting point of recognition, the healing process adventurer begins a descent much like a deep sea diver into the very depths of the psyche, moving down through layers of defense: anger, terror and gut wrenching pain until at last the Essence is retrieved. This is the sought after treasure that has been buried on the floor of the sea.

Much to our delighted surprise the rediscovery of the Essence carries with it even greater treasure than itself alone. With its resurfacing, a powerful sense of enlightenment, almost a jolt of knowingness, the experience of one’s Higher Self and a vast Cosmic Consciousness accompanies the cycle’s completion.

At this point, the healing process journeyer is aware of the cycle’s culmination, accompanied by a significant shift into a stare of well being. A powerful release of energy, formerly bound up, is now free for the individual to employ in new and creative ways. (To be continued)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reflections: Day 3

A "Jewish" Thing To Do -- Taking Off The Masks We Wear

For me that means bringing forth hidden love and compassion.

(At least that is what I so often mask; generously showing my deep caring. I vow to do better this year, 5771, to show it.)

Has anyone not heard the story attributed to Rabbi Susya that follows.

Says the Rabbi --

"In the world to come I shall not be asked" Why were you not Moses?" I shall be asked"

"Why were you not Susaya?"

Her is another short anecdote.

My stepmother, a German Holocaust surivor (by way of China, not the death camps) visited me once when I was going through my "pagan phase."

Intent on affirming my non-Jewishness to her, I proudly showed off the altar I had set up in my bedroom with goddess artifacts, crystals, incense and so forth.

"See, Mom," I boasted, proud of my new identity, "I'm not Jewish anymore!"

"I believe you are fooling yourself," she said in gentle, true motherly fashion.

(She was always both gentle and in a true motherly manner.)

"You cannot not be Jewish! You were born to it."

"Besides, said she, "you have Sabbath candles on your new pagan altar.

And, they are sitting right there on it -- in your Sabbath candle holders!"

Moral of the story:

Some of us need to bounce around awhile to find our truths.

P.S. I'm still using that same Sabbath candlestick holder on that same pagan altar decades later. Only now I know myself to belong wherever I belong in my heart while my roots remain firmly rooted in the heritage from which I came.

Formerly, I thought I had to "quit" one in order to belong to the other.

Reflections: Days of Awe, Days of Repentance

Day 3 -- September 11

3:00 p.m

I am steeped in reading and re-reading the Rosh Hoshana prayers as I spend this sacred day in reflection.

One thing I am seeing is that my conscious intent to return to my Jewish heritage with joy is not about my faith.

It is about my acceptance of the culture of my inheritance; an embracing of how I came to the faith that is mine.

The faith I consciously selected for myself.

Reflections – Ten Days of Awe: Ten Days of Repentance

Days 2 and 3 (September 10 and September 11)

Conversation and contemplation replace my fury.

Anticipated joy on its way. For now careful reflection rules the day.

Thursday's conversation (first day of Rosh Hoshana) with Sandi led me to further reflection on the NYC mosque situation; perspectives and feelings revised.

My anger, replaced by contemplation.

Anger in me, sitting as if straight on the center of a balance beam.

Weighing in against what?

Compassion? I'm not certain. Perhaps enlightenment?

Certainly I am seeking "awe" by Yom Kippur.

Conversation -- meaningful conversation -- with those who are committed to thinking outside the box brings forth "elegant solutions."

Even if those solutions are only resolving dilemmas within oneself.

My Divine ZOP Sister, Sandi, is one I know I can count on to help me discover elegant solutions inside myself.

Sometimes the next step is some kind of elegant solution that takes the form of  tion. Sometimes not.

Sometimes the elegance and the awe just simply sit inside of me.

After talking with Sandi, I was back into prayer, reflection and conversations with G-d.

Soon "my Sue" arrived to more formally celebrate the Jewish New Year with me.

We spent some of our precious time reflecting on our misdeeds of the past years as Jewish tradition instructs.

Sitting on a massive rock at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, we "cast off" our sins by throwing pieces of bread into the river.

Then we joined with each other in many other Rosh Hoshana traditions as the day progressed.

Today is September 11 -- sacred.

More serious contemplation.

Walking thoughtfully, carefully through the day.

Mindfulness meditation brings a healing heart. Clarity of mind.

It is truly all that I have at this moment.

Dayenu. Is it enough?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Reflections – Ten Days of Awe: Ten Days of Repentance

Day 1 (Thursday, September 9):

Joy, Fury, Contemplation, Conversation, Release

I was joyous this morning when I awakened to the sounds of the rustling leaves in the wind, the birds chirping outside my window. Oh, it was good to be alive! I was filled with my best Rosh Hoshana intentions.

Before bed last night (Wednesday night) I had read through the prayers of my High Holy Days prayer book, I was ready for this day; the first full day of my repentance, (New Year -- 5771).

My “right arm,” Quaker Sue, was coming to Harpers Ferry today. And, for the first time – in thirty years -- I would share my new found clarity and joy in my Jewish heritage with another person. And, sharing with Sue would have the added mitzvah of an interfaith sharing.

(The delay is another whole set of stories, having to do with how I became an anti-Semite, for almost no reason at all other than some very yukky acting Jews -- and -- an absence of some much-needed healing conversations that are still needed now!)

Sue and I would go to the woods of our Harpers Ferry Retreat Center and celebrate at our fire circle, the center of rituals and untold celebrations on this land for almost twenty years now.

Never once used in this way before.

I would be coming home to myself; my Jewish self in the process of uniting with the rest of me.

Oh, it would be so good to be home! Home on this land!

Home to me! I felt full from my head to my toes of being "my kind of Jew," at last, as I awakened.

Then I recalled that CNN had informed us that the imam of the illustrious NYC Mosque project was to have been interviewed last night on Larry King.

Damn! I was furious!

How insensitive! “

Just like those Muslims!” my righteously infuriated mind shouted out loud inside of me.

“Why did this imam of our recent controversy with Muslims pick the eve of our holiest days of the year to make his pitch?” the justifiably angry, former anti-Semitic, recovering Jewish American Princess part of me asked the whole of me.

I was sick to my stomach with his and their insensitivity.

The eve of Rosh Hoshana! How dare they?
“But "what kind of Jew" am I to think this way?” I wondered, brought up short ,as I was with second thoughts.

Had I not just read in my prayer book that my repentance demanded I turn away from anger.

Was my fury that good kind of healing and cleansing anger that had felt like my liberation last night?

Or was it something else, again? Just then my cell phone rang!

It was Sandi, #3 of the Divine Sisters ZOP (Zones of Peace), as we did declare on September 11, 2008.

(That be "Anastasia, Sandi and Sue" with one Divine ZOP Sister apprentice in training.)

As my next conversation began, I would, thus, be reminded, once again, how it came to be that the Days of Repentance” and the “Days of Awe” are one and the same on the Jewish calendar!

To be continued.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reflections From A Former Anti-Semitic, Recovering Jewish American Princess

On The Eve of Rosh Hoshana

I look at my words; the vow I made to myself -- “that when the time came for me to publish this story that I would tell my story with love and compassion.”

Yet I am caught in a trap of my own making.

(That is why I could not write these past weeks; "writers block." "It's always something," my Jewish mother would say. )

I do have forgiveness, love and compassion, for the actors (and actresses) – but I am still angry at the “actions.”

What am I to do? I am mad!

And, it feels good, clean, healthy, like the fire of cleansing and healing!

(I don't want to give it up. It is the fire of my truth. The energy of my belief in social justice. The flame in me that burns for tikkun olam -- "world repair.")

The “NYC Mosque Controversy” pushes the issue for me.

It is time for me to focus on publishing my manuscript in progress, “The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard.”

I need an agent. This is too much for me on my own.

It is time for me to tell the story out in the world!

In the service of doing what is mine to do.

But I don’t want to make waves.

(Maybe I can't have it both ways. Maybe I have to choose.)

So what is “the next right thing for me to do? "

There is so much that is mine to do - the new book in progress as well as the Small “Zones Of Peace” Conversations Project.

  • Mine – the psychotherapist turned community development coach and consultant.
  • Mine – the former local president of the national Jewish women’s social action organization – now a local, Jewish pariah.
  • Mine -- the former anti-Semitic American Jewess returned to my tribe in new form.
Dayenu – Is it enough that I begin?

This is my repentance for the Ten Days Of Awe, the Ten Days of Repentance, my heritage as a Jew – to wipe the slate clean and begin anew.

But how?

How do I move through the pockets where I am angry at the actions, yet in forgiveness of the actors and actresses?

I am pledged to do my best.

Though I am uncertain how to proceed.

Of one thing I am confident, it is so good to know who I am and stand in my truth for it.
Dayenu.

Another of my 1,000 masks comes off, I think?


A bit scarey. A bit liberating.


Dayenu.