Stand If You Are Able: Thoughts on the High Holidays
It’s hard to believe that the High Holidays are here already! 2020 has been a weird vacuum of time. We’re all quarantined now and the Jewish holidays will certainly feel different than they ever have. For me, the Jewish holidays will always feel different.
In 2018, at age 29, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two years ago, Yom Kippur looked a lot different than it will this year.
I was bald, with my head wrapped in a scarf. Yet, I felt it necessary that I show up for services that year.
As a family lawyer in Beverly Hills, I literally stand up for my clients all of the time. However, in temple that year, I very clearly remember that each time the Rabbi called on the congregants to, “stand if you are able,” I could not. I never noticed before that the call to stand was optional. It was always just stand up for the Shema. Sit down. Stand up for the opening of the Ark. Sit down. But that year, wearing a scarf to cover my bald head, I noticed for the very first time that not everyone could stand up and remain standing. I definitely could not.
Last year, for the first time, I looked around with curiosity and sympathy for those who stayed seated. I was very fortunate to be able to stand again last year, but it definitely evoked memories of the time when I was not.
I am learning that survivorship is a lifelong thing. That’s why Sharsheret is so important to me. Cancer doesn’t end when you finish your treatment and get released back into the world. It’s the little moments like the one I just described that continuously remind me of my cancer. I’m still learning how to carry my cancer experience with me as I live life in remission and move further away from 2018. Like all things, survivorship is a work in progress.
Through Sharsheret I have found a group of people who understand exactly what I’ve been through and make me feel normal again.
Sharsheret has so many amazing, free resources – not just for cancer patients but also for their caregivers, and for life after cancer. I am now a peer supporter (my Sharsheret social worker, is basically my matchmaker) so I can be there for other people going through it.
I hope that everyone reading this has a happy and healthy new year. For those who cannot stand, please know that Sharsheret’s members stand in support for you. We all continue to spread the word about Sharsheret, because it impacts so many lives in such a meaningful way.