Hi all! Last Wednesday night I had the pleasure to attend a lecture by Dina Hurwitz at Houston’s ERJCC. Dina is a mother of seven, whose life turned upside down when her husband, Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz, was diagnosed with ALS in 2013. ALS is a a rare progressive, neurodegenerative disease. Dina talked to us about what it has been like to see the love of her life in this “predicament,” (as Yitzi prefers to call it), raising her kids during this time, leaving her community in Temecula, CA and relocating with her family to L.A. Dina was incredibly HONEST to us about her struggle and her constant quest to find joy and meaning throughout it all. A room full of women laughed and cried together as Dina inspired us with her message of devotion, faith and courage. Below, I’ve jotted a few take aways that I remembered and my wonderful friends in my community also helped me remember. (Thank You!) But, before that, here is a BEAUTIFUL VIDEO that was made of a song that Rabbi Yitzi composed well before he was diagnosed.
Before loosing his ability to move, Yitzi was an extremely musical person. His kids found a recording of this song, which Yitzi composed. Uplifted and inspired by listening to their father’s voice, which they had not heard for two years at that point, Dina and the kids shared the song with a close friend. He then took it over and turned it into the beauty that you’re about to hear and see. The second voice you hear in the video is Yitzi’s, actually!
Here are few of the take aways and lessons that Dina left us with. I hope you find them helpful. (Thank You to all my friends in my community who via What’s App helped me recall many of these and review them, so I can share them with you.) To hear more about Dina, her words of faith, inspiration, and a candid look at the human struggle – which we can all relate to – follow Dina’s blog The Caffeinated Thinker.
With regards to her and Yitzi telling their older kids about the doctors’ prognosis, here are two points which they said to them:
- This does not give you an excuse to ruin your lives.
- You don’t have to figure out the rest of your lives now. You just have to figure out how to get through this moment. One moment.
Regarding us as women:
- Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Yes, surprisingly we are often kinder to others than we are to our own selves (read: the stuff you sometimes tell yourself, you would NEVER think to tell anyone else, unless, of course, you want them to never be your friend again.)
- Take care of yourself and make time for yourself in order to have the strength to be there for those you love.
- G-d has already given you all the tools that you need to fulfill your unique mission in this world. We often think, “well if only I had more money, or more talent or more time or more this, then I’d be able to…” No. You have exactly what you need. Do not wait. Take action now.
- Be a friend. Listen and create a safe place where your friends can share their fear and pain without judgement. Don’t push a friend to a place where she’s not ready to go to.
Us as mothers:
- When making a decision for your kids, we often get in the role of disciplinarian (ie. well I can’t jut say Yes or I have to say No.) Put it in perspective and think if this will matter in 5 years from now and if you can, then just say yes. Do whatever you need to do to make your kids happy (not meaning spoil them, give them everything, or over indulge) but spend time with them, read them another story, give them experiences and things within reason, which will help in their happiness.
- Music helps! Turn on the music in the house (or play instruments). It helps to set a happy mood all around.
Our relationship with G-d:
- As long as we’re struggling with G-d, it’s a good struggle.
- We are not in control of our lives. Give that up already.
- There is a difference between pain and suffering. We all have pain in our lives. We don’t have to suffer. Suffering is how we choose to behave about that pain, and more specifically suffering is pain without a purpose. You have to find meaning and purpose in your pain. Otherwise, you’ll be suffering.
Her conclusion to all of us:
- No matter what you’re going through, always remember to thank G-d for the good and blessings that you DO have.
Yitzi writes a weekly blog on the Torah portion, through a computer that senses the light on his eyes and can then transcribe his words (I’m sure I’m butchering how this system works, but it’s nothing short of incredible). He told his wife that he feels like he received a “promotion from G-d” as his message has gone from reaching his small community in Temecula, CA, to reaching thousands who read his blog every week.
I encourage you all to do a huge mitzvah and contribute to the Hurwitz Family Fund. All donations are tax deductible.
If you were there, and were touched by anything you heard, please share it with us in the comments section below. I’d love to hear.
Wishing you a week full of blessings,