Crushed

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 09 December 2014 @ 10:06 pm

rose on ice

I don’t usually cry about the difficulties of rearing a child with special needs. Not because I don’t feel the sadness. But because I’ve steeled myself against it. And because I’m afraid that once I start, it will be too difficult to stem the flow.

But tonight, I am crying.

I am crying for my son, my sweet son, whose anxiety so often gets the best of him. And who lacks the protective armour necessary to survive the barbs, comments, and criticisms of the real world.
Tonight was meant to be his first high school choir concert. Instead, it was just another reminder that other kids can be cruel.
Ben has always loved music. From an early age, he could match pitch, memorize lyrics, and repeat melodies after the first hearing. But his fear of being the center of attention prevented his participation in choir.
Until this year.
Both Warren and I spent our high school years in the choir room. Our children have heard miles of stories about our choral experiences and, though we never pressured them to join choir, both Warren and I were excited to have our firstborn follow in our footsteps.
Plus, we both knew, from personal experience, that choir was an accepting place, and that Ben might finally find a place of belonging.

Ben has been fretting (his word) for days. As he always is before any anxiety-producing experience.
The required concert attire was enough to send him into fits of emotional dysregulation. But he did it. He did it. He put on the button-down shirt. And the dress pants. The black socks (he only wears white socks) and the black dress shoes.
Unbeknownst to me, he watched videos about ways to tuck in a dress shirt.

And it was all for naught.

Because I didn’t plan ahead.
I didn’t anticipate the stumbling blocks.
I didn’t remember the flowers. (Gratuitous Ice Castles reference.)

I never thought to ask if his one-on-one aide would be there. After all, it was a course-required activity and I assumed…
I never thought to ask if there would be adult supervision at all times. After all, it was a school activity and I assumed…

Yes, I know what they say about assuming.

So without an aide to guide him through the social landscape and without an adult keeping the kids in line before the concert, Ben was without a safety net. An unkind comment from another kid and that was it. Ben left. In tears.

Now he sleeps.
And I am left crying.

{ 1 comment }

The Reader’s Story

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 02 December 2014 @ 4:08 pm

Chosen- Potok1

Every book tells a story. (That is, after all, the point of a book.)

Some books, however, tell a story about the reader.
For those of us whose lives depend on the written word for sustenance, we hold especially dear those titles that tell a piece of our story. And for me, The Chosen is one of those books.

I was in the seventh grade.
Our Religious School teacher had to be away a lot on business.
For reasons that now make little sense to me as a Jewish educator, the fifteen-year-old teacher’s aide was given autonomy over the class and its curriculum.
He assigned us to read The Chosen.
Did I love the book because of the crush I had on the aide?
Or did I have a crush on the aide because I loved the book?

I was enthralled by the story and the characters and the setting.
All of it.
I loved learning about a Jewish world so different from the one I inhabited.
One, I suspect, I envied.
And on page 164, I saw how an author could use symbolism in a profound way.

That book has stayed with me these thirty years.
Literally and figuratively.
My original copy — replete with doodles in a childish hand and a worn cover — and a newer and more pristine copy.
It was my introduction to Chaim Potok, who remains one of my favourite authors (and was the childhood friend of one of my professors, T. Carni, z”l), and provided a glimpse into the world of rabbinic thought.
And was the backdrop of my girlhood crush.

My review on The Chosen is at Fig Tree Books.

Oh, and there is a lovely postscript to my story; I married that teacher’s aide when we grew up.

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Mission Accomplished: Ted Talk

November 13, 2014

I have a list. It’s akin to a bucket list, I suppose. But it is not about places I want to go or things I want to see. Or, I should say, it’s not just about those things. It’s a list of the things that I want to accomplish. Like learn Yiddish. I want to […]

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Bitter, Bitter Cheshvan

November 4, 2014

With the intensity of our Fall Holy Days behind us, we find ourselves in the month of Cheshvan. Known as Mar Cheshvan, or “bitter Cheshvan,” it is the only month on our calendar devoid of festivals or fast days. And it is for that reason that many have assumed it was given its alternate name. […]

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Sinking

October 23, 2014

I haven’t been writing. Or exercising nearly as much as I’d like. Or keeping up with friends. Or even wishing them happy birthday on Facebook. Things here in AutismLand have been difficult. For months. Really difficult. Really, really, really difficult. I feel as though I spend my days under the weight of quick sand. Sinking. […]

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#BlogElul 2: Act

August 28, 2014

I am terrible at predicting trends. For example, I predicted Cyndi Lauper would be more successful than Madonna, Tiffany over Debbie Gibson, and never, never would I have thought that nearly the entire world would have jumped on the ALS #IceBucketChallenge. To the tune of nearly $100M in a month. I have a perfect track […]

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#BlogElul 1: Do

August 27, 2014

Elul means different things to different people. As a pulpit rabbi, it is a time filled with intense pressure and infinite spiritual potential. Every waking moment and, truth be told, some sleeping ones are filled with High Holy Day prep. Going over the liturgy, looking for nuances that resonate in a new way, and practicing […]

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Lamentations

August 5, 2014

#487699779 / gettyimages.com It’s been so long that I can no longer remember what, if anything, I really knew about Tisha b’Av prior to rabbinical school. All of that changed during my first year at HUC in Jerusalem. Just a few weeks into our Israel experience, we were expected to mourn for something that we […]

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Professional Peace-Maker

July 7, 2014

#AB62963 / gettyimages.com I am really fortunate. My life has brought me into relationship with some truly inspiring and amazing people. Individuals who are compassionate. And brave. And filled with conviction. And the belief that they are able to help bring a modicum of peace to our broken world. Andrea Berlin is one such person. […]

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Belief

July 1, 2014

Barukh Dayan HaEmet. Blessed is the Eternal God of Truth. We say these words upon hearing of a death. The death of the eighty-six year old grandmother who lived a full and rich life. The death of the eight year old son Who barely left footprints on his journey. The death of the teenagers Whose […]

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