It’s funny where the road takes you… to think I have only been studying at the Kabbalah Centre in New York for just over a year is astonishing. Kabbalah was never something new to me, I grew up reading Torah and I had studied religion in school - Kabbalah was a system of understanding reality I was familiar with, but I realize now the difference between that academic level of understanding and active consciousness that you apply to your life.
My work, as for many of us, is sometimes very stressful. I had a habit of taking a break each day for a brisk walk around my midtown Manhattan office. I was accustomed to the sea of charcoal grey suits and yellow taxis racing past stone and glass skyscrapers. That day something odd caught my eye- a table with a small red painted mirror and a flyer that said “Love Life More. Mirrors conceal the most beautiful part of us.” When I looked up, I saw the word Kabbalah, I immediately thought “Why have I never been here before?” I went in, met a nice woman working at the desk and signed up for a lecture.
I missed the lecture. My normally shining health was on an hiatus. I got pneumonia. I spent weeks recovering. During that time I had all but forgotten about the lecture. But then I received a couple of voicemail messages from the Centre inquiring about my absence. The messages were so kind, I felt I needed to return the call. When I did, I found a new friend who had travelled a very similar life path as I, a lecture intriguing enough that I started class the next night and teachings that have helped me transform my life.
As I began to study, I saw so many positive changes in my life. Relationships I struggled with became stronger. I felt more connected to my own purpose in life, the work I was doing. I wanted to become more involved in the community so that I could share with others the kind of support that I had received. When I started volunteering, I started with greeting at lectures. I met people from all different walks of life. Many of whom felt that same inexplicable pull to walk through that door and learn about Kabbalah. Being able to share an introduction to something that was so transformational for me has been very exciting.
As the months went on, I had the opportunity to help with The Zohar Project. Sharing the Zohar with people in need is an opportunity to bring Light, kindness and comfort to our neighbors - especially to those who are facing hardships. After Hurricane Sandy, The Zohar Project visited some of the hardest hit areas.
It happened that one morning, my plans got changed, and I was going with a team of people who “coincidentally” were heading to the small town where I spent part of my childhood on the Jersey Shore. Being a costal community, the town has seen its share of storms and living there we were somewhat used to the flooding. Watching our cars float by or driving down the main street in a boat was, I’d say, a bi-annual event. Most of the newer homes are built on stilts to accommodate the proximity to the coast.
The water had receded considerably by the time we had arrived, but the watermarks on the homes in the town were the highest I had ever seen. Some homes were destroyed. The difficult fact is that most of those were in the parts of town where the poorest people live. Those homes are not on stilts, and for many of those people, it is very difficult to replace what has been lost. I will not forget one family we met, packing all of what they could salvage from their modest, now uninhabitable apartment into their small car. They had lost so much. I was able talk with them and to offer some comfort as neighbors, and offered the gift of the Zohar. It was all received with more thankfulness and love than I was prepared for.
Volunteering with the Kabbalah Centre introductions and the Zohar Project has taught me to never underestimate the power of showing someone a moment of simple compassion. Being able to be a part of introducing someone to Kabbalah and to the Zohar is, for me, my way to say to someone - you are not alone. Because that is the most powerful lesson I have learned so far: No matter how lost, how dark, how difficult it might be, no matter what: You are never alone.