Moving Story

There is nothing that can lift a person’s spirit like a story. A story can make you laugh, cry, and even a little bit of both. A story can be inspirational, touching, and motivating. So let’s have it. Share your most powerful story. It can be Jewish or secular, a parable or even a personal story. Whatever works. Don’t be afraid to send a story that  may be borderline corny.

  1. Great idea and I, for one, love the idea of this experiment. No moving story but just a comment on today’s sermon about a different perspective.

    I have observed that I am stuck on a problem – the best way to break through is to turn it around. Here is a picture to demonstrate my point that I happen to post just last week!

    The power of the different perspective…


  2. My first spiritual paradox.

    I grew up in the early sixties in Crown Heights – the granddaughter of two Hasidic dynasties – the Kerestirer ( and Chuste. My Grandmother (Kerestirer Rebbetzin – a”h) acted as community social worker, employment agency, housing coordinator, medical advocate et al for the tattered Hungarian refugees that spilled into Crown Heights during those years.

    The Rebbetzin’s house was always hectic. Miraculously, despite the fact that my grandmother and 8 of her nine children were deported to Bergen Belsen, all survived. The result was a constant buzz of people mulling, kids underfoot, chickens cooking and endless laundry loads of towels for the community’s mikvah in the basement of the building.

    And in the chaos, my closest companion was my first cousin Yossi merely 3 weeks older than me. We both have a retiring, somewhat shy personality and we found refuge in each other’s company, often in some quiet corner.

    On one such day, when I was about five years old, Yossi and I were playing in the living room of my grandparent’s apartment. We happened to be standing by the one big window in the room and I happened to catch a most beautiful red sunset. I exclaimed to Yossi how beautiful it was.

    And Yossi, who I considered far smarter than I, (after all he knew how to daven) leaned in and asked: “Do you know what that is?” “No” I responded. At which point he said with a touch of relish, “Oh – that’s people being punished in Gehenum because they were bad.”

    I was baffled and horrified. I was baffled at how something so beautiful could be so awful. But I was even more horrified at this very new notion of Hell. I challenged him somewhat pathetically (hey, I was only 5), “How do you know?” He answered quite seriously, “Because that’s what my father said.”

    Well – game over. How could I argue with my uncle? Yet, I was unwilling to accept the notion of a hell. So I squared my little shoulders, mustered my courage and asked my very learned uncle; “How do you know that bad people go to gehenom.”

    His terse Yiddish answer dismissed any possibility for discourse: “Ma’ tournish fragen” translated to mean; “it is forbidden to ask.” But that translation lacks the sting he intended because he really meant it more as a chastisement as in: “it is inappropriate to even have such thoughts.”

    His comment was brutal because it taught me to consider spiritual questioning as a significant lapse in spiritual faith. And because of this exchange, at this tender age, I started to censor what I was “allowed” to be curious about. It distorted the very natural and healthy spiritual curiosity a kid has with the unhealthy notion that a topic is “off limits.” It was only after my own kids brought home books from school that openly discussed my doubts, was I able to reframe my attempts at reconciling my spiritual paradoxes.

    I share this story on Thanksgiving Day because I am thankful to see how Jewish education has matured to encompass a diverse set of secular and religious thinking. I am doubly thankful that technology (like this site) lets us significantly expand the contours of our community well beyond the confines of geography. This way we can share our paradoxes as a “kehila” thus reaching a deeper level of faith than we may be able to achieve alone.

    Judy Shapiro
    P.S. – In case you are wondering why I have the time to write this on Thanksgiving Day – it is because my two wonderful kids decided to cook a full course dinner for us. Something amazing to be grateful for – wouldn’t you say?

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