Noah: Facing Journeys With Strength
Excerpted from a Pink Shabbat D’var Torah
In the Bible, we learn the story of Noah- a man who was righteous for his generation- that took a journey he never would have planned. Since he’s a righteous fellow, God speaks to him-
Noah, I’ve decided to wipe out the earth
Noah, Here’s what you need to do- build an ark! Gather your family, the animals, and food.
Noah has a week to get it all together, and then it rains for 40 days and 40 nights. The water recedes, he sends out the dove, Noah, his family and animals arrive on dry land, and God makes a covenant with the people that this will never happen again, by the sign of a rainbow.
Noah is one story of the Bible that has hundreds, if not thousands of children’s books written about it. Somehow, this story of an unexpected journey is compelling to us, as adults, and as a community. What is it- about a person of character, facing adversity- taking a leap of faith- and coming out on the other side?
Somehow, that seems to be the story of life. For all of us.
One of my friends recently said to me, that sometimes, we have to be reminded that we are actually not the ones driving the bus. Just when we think we have it all together, life will throw us a curve ball.
Here’s my curve ball.
Nov, 2014, I ran the NY marathon, and was inspired by my incredible experience. There is nothing like NY.
I signed up as quickly as I could for the NY Marathon 2015- with the team that supports Sharsheret, a national not-for-profit organization supporting young women and their families, of all Jewish backgrounds, facing breast cancer. I believe in their work, I have friends and family with breast and ovarian cancer, people who face the genetic testing and decisions related to BRCA genes, which can lead to breast and ovarian cancer- and I am touched by this issue and cause. This organization felt personal.
I began my 20 week marathon training plan in June for Team Sharsheret. I raised money for Sharsheret, I learned more about their programs and their services. My mom even began to volunteer in their offices. What started out as a great cause and a great way to run the NY marathon, became personal. In September, 8 weeks before the race, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I called my Sharsheret Team Captain, and had to tell her my situation.
I was put immediately into the Sharsheret system. I was connected with a Counselor in their Support team who reached out, and I feel, just keeps an eye on me along this process. She asked about my children and their ages and interests, and sent a “Busy Box” full of quiet activities for when “mommy doesn’t feel so well”- They sent materials, brochures and resources- both for me, and for Salomon, as my partner and primary caregiver. Once I knew what procedures and process I was going to have- they connected me to a woman in Maryland, who is trained as a “peer counselor,” and has walked the same path as me. Just yesterday, I received a “pillow of support” in the mail, from Sharsheret’s founding board member.
And the story of the marathon- well, I’m not running NY this year but I kept training, because I don’t know what else to do with myself. Running keeps me together physically and mentally. I thrive when I’m on a plan. I decided that once we set my surgery date, I would find a local marathon to run.
I was out with my training buddy one day- and thought of a 40 mile race my friend, Adam Jackson did, a few years ago. I began to wonder- what would it look like if I created my own course and made this a fundraiser and friend-raiser for Sharsheret? And so, the journey began. Oct 8th, I met with Adam to get this envisioned, and 10 days later, (this Sunday!) I will be running a marathon with over 30 friends- and over 25 at support stations along the way.
It has been so much more fun to think about running than about breast cancer. But, yes, breast cancer is part of the story.
And with that, one of my friends reached out to channel 7 news, and there was a great segment about me, this journey and the marathon Thursday night. And then on Friday, kveller.com picked it up, and shared my story as well. It’s been nonstop publicity these past 2 days. Since the segment aired, I have surpassed my $10,000 fundraising goal for Sharsheret.
What is it about an unexpected journey, adversity, and fierce crazy determination that opens our hearts? It’s because it’s in each of us. We have all had to take journeys, like Noah, like me- that were unexpected. We all have to decide how we will embark on these unchosen paths. But the journey is just part of our story- it’s what we make of it that counts.
I am so grateful to Sharsheret, and to our community for accompanying me on this path. Thank you for being here, thank you for being present, and thank you for being part of Pink Shabbat.