Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Why Strengthen Jewish Women?

Some women have asked why am I arranging a program for women and what does it have to do with my profession? I would like to share two snippets of two cases I have worked with as an Occupational Therapist and Healing Facilitator in order to answer this question.

After I had qualified as an Occupational Therapist, my first job was working in a teaching hospital in Cape Town. As part of my case load I covered the neurosurgery ICU, wards and outpatients service as an Occupational Therapist. During my years working there, we had, amongst many other cases, two teenagers come in who were passengers in a car accident. Both had severe head injuries and other fractures and injuries. Both were unconscious on admission and the first aspect of Occupational Therapy was coma stimulation and educating the family on what they could do to assist the patients recovery.

The intervention for both was very similar in many respects, but one key factor differed and this was the role that the mother played in the patients rehab and recovery. The first mother was the central figure in the family. She made sure that the family was positive, optimistic and that each member did something to help the patient regain consciousness and later with the patients rehab program. This mother's approach kept the family united, inspired, hopeful and made a world of difference for the patient. Needless to say this patient did regain consciousness and had a very good recovery.

The second mother was quieter and more timid. She struggled to keep the family united and focused, the more her belief in the recovery of her child wavered, the more her family as a whole took strain and her child who was in a coma reacted to this. The second patient was eventually transferred to a long term care unit after which I lost contact with the family. But the lesson learned was a powerful one.

From that time on, I endeavour as much as possible to strengthen the mother, for I have seen first hand that when the mother is strong, motivated and inspired that the whole family benefits positively. When the mother is weaker or struggling in any manner, the family is affected in many ways.

Every Jew went through Mitzrayim (Egypt) and the Exodus. every Jew has their own tests that pose as their personal Mitzrayim (Egypt). However, a key factor in our Exodus from Egypt was the role of Miriam, the sister of Moshe Rabeinu. She had faith that we would go out of Egypt and that we would cross over to get to what was then the Land of Canaan. As a result, when we successfully crossed the Yam Suf (Sea of Reads) Miriam was there with her tambourines and inspiring the other women to sing the Song of the Sea.

Drawing from these, both the lessons of years of being an Occupational Therapist, together with teachings from our Torah, it seemed like a logical step to work on strengthening Jewish women. Yes we do have a complex and full role to play. But by networking with other Jewish women and being inspired by good speakers and Torah Teachers, we can, G-d willing strengthen each Jewish home.

Some of the proceeds of the event go towards our Mitzvah Projects, especially our Mikvah Project - Purity with Dignity and our Bayit Chadash - helping new Chatan and Kallah in need to set up their new home.

Shoshanah works privately offering Occupational Therapy, Massage, Healing, courses for Moms to learn to massage their own babies and services for single women and Olim Chadashim. To make an enquiry or book a session, please email Shoshanah

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