Adult B’nei Mitzvah Class of 2014: Leigh Grode


What an amazing transition I am involved in, as I learn Torah. I am reminded of my life, for many years I lived in the place of desperation, how scared and lost I felt like I was drowning. And I also remember being 4 years old summertime at the Country house, our family Schetel upstate New York. My Grandma Fay asked me to get my Great Grandmother for dinner, so I went down to “Bubbie’s” apartment peeking through the screen door I watched in awe as My Bubbie covered her head and lit the Shabbos Candles, gathering the light towards herself as she said the Brucha. It has taken years and many paths leading me back to Judaism. I love that the Darkness comes before the Light.

Sometimes we move so quickly we miss this moment, right here, right now. We are distracted people – very distracted. I am relieved that the Darkness gives me permission to not have the answers, to wonder, to ask, to cry, to wish. Darkness eliminates full vision, therefore less distractions. How often do we use the darkness to recharge, reaffirm our connection with G-d? How do we ready ourselves to for the light? Are we different in the Light than in the Darkness? The Light contains movement, action, and activity, faster, faster do more – hurry, got to get there, NOW! But this state of “NOW” it’s a number on a clock, the flesh showing up without the presence of mind.

In Torah we learn there were 6 Cities of Refuge formed to protect both the citizens and the manslayers (non intentioned murders). Anyone of us can make a mistake, and be distracted, which unfortunately can cause the death of another. Therefore anyone of us can be the manslayer; the one who really missed the mark. Some believe there is no G-d, where there are murders and criminals. I disagree, G-d is everywhere and it is our job to surrender our false belief of control and let G-d in. I remember a time prior to Recovery, I was hopeless, lonely, disconnected from sanity, and I did not know how to choose to life.

And then on Erev Yom Kippur 1985, I was turning 90 days clean off of drugs, the woman I had got clean for left me. And I did not know how to put myself first. I just wanted to die, so I went to services and the Rabbi was talking about relationships, I was so self-obsessed, I didn’t even recognize I was sitting next to Leonard Bernstein! I left services that night and ran next door to a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous where I met my G-d, I broke down crying for the first time and I admitted that I didn’t know how to choose to stay clean for myself and that was the night I let my G-d, lead me on this wild journey to be with you here today. I may not be able to quote Torah (Yet) but I do know G-d, up front and personal and I bet when you can quiet yourself, you too know G-d and the love that is our Birthright.

As a woman with 29 years clean and sober today the moral of the story is it doesn’t matter where you stand physically, here in Temple or in prison, in a 12-step meeting or at the beach or wandering in the desert for 40 years. All we have to do is breathe in, get still and give up our ego, control and tell the truth.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

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