Sunday, October 08, 2006

Really Good News

As my regular readers will recall, before I moved to Israel, my friend Rabbi Shimmy Trencher gave me a pre-Aliyah gift in the form of plane ticket, to take a 2.5-day self-empowerment course called "Understanding Yourself and Others." (See how Shimmy has made the course more easily available to Jewish teenagers, in a shomer Shabbat, completely halachic environment, here.) I'm not going to say that it "changed my life," because what does that mean? But it did help me, tremendously. It gave me a lot of tools that I still use to this day. Later, I attended more sessions of the course, in different locations, as a course assistant, an experience that gave me tremendous "chizzuk" (strength) for the ego-crumbling process of absorbing oneself into Israeli society. It didn't lead to discernible changes in my external life -- I still mostly make the same choices I probably would have made anyway -- but my internal life is much more positive. And, I must admit, there are small things I've done, such as attend singles events that I otherwise may have run away from, or instances in which I've stood up for myself, or just reacted more positively to something when my first instinct was to be impatient and negative, that can probably be attributed to UYO.

Anyway, finally finally, after planning this for only, oh, two years, and several false starts, I'm bringing UYO to Jerusalem-- in just a few weeks! I want my friends here to be able to benefit from it, and since it helps people to become more "at peace" with themselves and the people around them, I see it as a way that I can have a positive and very powerful impact on Israeli society. People are already starting to sign up, and I'm really excited.

The really great news is that, thanks to a VERY generous donor in Boca Raton, Florida, the cost for the course is now "Whatever you are able to pay." It costs us over $600 per student do the course, and very very few people in Israel can afford that, so this donation is what is basically making the course possible. Thank you, generous donor, you know who you are!

This is one of the reasons I haven't been blogging much; much of my "leisure time" has been used to find a location for the course (still tentative, but we'll probably "close" on a place near Old Katamon in the next few days), answer questions for people who are interested in coming, research accomodations for the instructors who are flying in, etc.

If you live in Israel and are reading this and want to attend (or learn more with an eye to possibly attending), here is the basic info: It will take place November 15-17 (including a traditional Shabbat meal on Friday night), and if you write to me at chayyeisarah at yahoo dot com I'll be happy to send you more information about the class, full registration info, etc. Priority is given to those who live in Israel permanently; those who are here, say, for a year will be put automatically on a waiting list (there is room for 22 students). The course will be given in English, but those who wish to express themselves in Hebrew or Russian will have people there who can translate. I'm also looking for people who speak fluent Arabic, as an investment toward the future. There is no other eligibility requirement other than living here and understanding English - secular, religious, not Jewish, rich, poor, native, immigrant, Jerusalemite, Tel Avivian . . . if you want to come, you are welcome. The course will be conducted under the halachic guidance of Rabbi Ian Pear, but no one will be made to keep or break any Jewish ritual that they don't want to.

If you live outside Israel and want to help, there are two ways: The first and most important is to spread the word to your friends who live here. The second is to provide scholarship funds for the students (or students in future courses; I plan to do this as many times as possible, hoping it will grow). Send tax-deductible donations to “American Friends of Holistic Healing,” noting that the donation is for UYO, and mail it to American Friends of Holistic Healing, 10 Harvard Street, Reading, MA 01867. If you have any questions about the program, you can also contact Beth Lefevre, teacher and motivator extraordinaire of the Global Relationship Center of Boca Raton -- she's going to be one of the two teachers of the course, and is helping me organize all the logistics (Thank you, Beth!) (Note: Despite the initials of Beth's company, this is not the Landmark Forum.)

Go, me!

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