Taking Egypt out of the Slave: A Jewish Orthodox Woman’s Journey to Inner freedom 

Three steps you can take today to find your own inner freedom

It is five years to the day that I made the monumental decision to leave my marital home after twenty-two years of marriage. I didn’t think that I would be leaving for good; I thought it would just be for the upcoming holiday, Passover. But my mind knew, what my heart refused to accept, I was leaving for good.

To outsiders it seemed to be a rash move. Which Jewish Orthodox woman leaves her marriage to a Rabbi?

In reality however, it was a decision that was long in coming. For years, I had been grappling with staying in a marriage where I was slowly losing myself; where I was unable to be a good parent to my children and feeling lonely and trapped.

I was told by Rabbis, family and friends that there was no way that I could leave the marriage. I was being selfish for even thinking of the idea and I would be ruining my children’s lives. Their marriage prospects would be doomed and they would become the pariahs on the Matchmaker’s lists.

But on that fateful night, the eve of Passover, a historical time of freedom for the Jewish People, I too took my first steps to freedom. And just like the Jewish Nation of old, I too left silently in the dark of night.

Those first few weeks were filled with incredible highs and lows. Family Court, finding a place to live and my first taste of freedom took all my time. For the first time in my life, at the age of 40, I was living on my own and free to make my own choices.

The fresh spring air matched my feelings of exhilaration as I began to feel the first taste of freedom. No longer did I feel confined and trapped. I was now an independent woman and able to make the choices that were good for me and my children.

The squeals of delight in the children’s eyes as they swung on the swings during the time I had newly carved out for them during the long Sabbath meal, symbolized our newfound freedom.

Over the next several months, things began to shift and different thoughts started coming up for me. I had left a bad marriage, but I still felt trapped. Happiness often eluded me. I rarely allowed myself a moment of rest.

What did freedom mean anyway?

For the first time in my life, I was able to make my own choices. But did I even know what I wanted?

It soon became clear to me that finding the freedom inside of me was a journey just as difficult and fraught with danger as taking my first steps to freedom. I was reminded of an axiom I had heard long ago. 

“You can take the slave out of Egypt, but it is a lot harder to take Egypt out of the slave”

I now knew that if I wanted to truly live from a place of freedom, I would need to identify and heal the parts deep inside of me that still held onto the old limiting beliefs. 

Five years and many hundreds of hours of healing later, I have finally found my own voice. I have found a way to live my life from a place of freedom. I sometimes stumble and step back into fear, the years of oppressive imprinting still marking my soul, but I rise again, remembering that I have left Egypt and I have the power to make Egypt leave me.

Do you still feel trapped even though you may have left a bad situation? Are you frustrated that you are not feeling as good as you have hoped? Have you created a beautiful life for yourself but still feel trapped inside? 

Here are three top actions that you can take today to find your freedom and release the trapped feelings inside of you:

  1. Start noticing how you speak about yourself and gently start to switch your negative comments to positive ones. Become your own best friend.
  2. Think back to your childhood and remind yourself of activities that you enjoyed and start incorporating them into your life. This will help you reconnect with who you truly are.
  3. Trust your intuition and your body sensations. If something doesn’t feel right to you, trust yourself that you are making the right choice.

By taking these small and doable actions, you will start to find the freedom within. Finding that freedom will give you the life of joy, happiness and passion which you have been seeking.

Do you want to know more? Click here to schedule a 15 minutes call https://calendly.com/beatriceweber/15min and subscribe to my blog at beatriceweber.com

I am super excited to announce that I will be speaking at the Awaken Fair in Tarrytown NY on Sunday April 28th at 3:30 pm and hope to see you there. Please purchase your tickets at http://www.awakenfair.net/guest-tickets.html

God Doesn’t Hate You: An Open Letter To Orthodox Jewish Women

“Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler of the universe who has not created me a woman”

I must have seen this prayer in my Siddur, prayer book thousands of times. I saw it first when I started saying the required Jewish prayers in my girls-only kindergarten. My teacher simply told us to skip out that prayer since it was reserved for the boys and men

For many years, I did not question this practice. I simply accepted it, just as I accepted the requirement to sit behind the wall with the women in our small synagoge and wear a long skirt at the tender age of three. It was just the way we all did things.

Later as a high school student, we grappled with the question as to how this prayer was appropriate nowadays and were given several explanations. Our teacher told us that men are grateful for not having to deal with the pain of childbirth or menstruation. In addition, men were expressing their gratitude since they have more mitzvot, commandments, and more ways to connect to God.

These explanations seemed acceptable to me at the time and I did not question any further, praying daily according to how I was taught. Over the years and especially since my divorce five years ago, my daily prayer practice had fallen to the wayside.

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Recently, I was praying and as I started saying the morning blessings and my eyes fell on the blessing,  “who has not created me a woman” I burst into tears. All those years of pent up angst came pouring forth. Long forgotten memories rose up as a torrent that would not be stilled.

I thought back to the little girl reciting the prayers in a sing-song voice who never thought she was good enough and would tug at her skirt, making sure her knees were covered.

I remembered that teenage young girl who wanted to be seen and loved for the powerful strong girl she was becoming, but was told to be quiet and that her role was to be subservient to a man.

I thought of the young married woman, almost a child herself, who gave up her dreams and desires to follow her husband and bear children for him, ignoring the burgeoning womanhood that bubbled within her.

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What impact did seeing this prayer daily in the prayer book have on the choices that I made?

What choices did I make as a result of hearing my brothers, father and husband say this prayer every day?

I was pleasantly surprised to recently discover that this prayer was introduced less than a thousand years ago with many scholars, including the Rambam, Maimonides expressing opposition, claiming that it was against Jewish belief.

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Is it possible that God does not want to hear this prayer said daily after all?

Are we ready to look at the impact this prayer has on our communities and abolish this practice?

Today, as a woman, I proudly say a prayer each morning expressing gratitude for being created as a woman.

“Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler of the universe who has created me a woman”

Six Week Online Workshop Coming Up Soon

Did you grow up in a harmful religious environment?

Were you treated harshly as a young child?

Did you need to give up your needs and wants for others?

Are you still struggling with finding your voice and inner spirit even years later?

Are you frustrated that you have still not found the peace and freedom you were searching for?

Do you want to experience true freedom?

Have you tried on your own for so long and still feel stuck?

Sign up here to join a six week workshop that will provide you with a transformational experience and you will begin to live a life of freedom and joy!

Upcoming Event: Gentle Healing from Harmful Religion – A Personal Story

Come join me for a talk on healing from harmful religions in Tarrytown NY on Sunday April 28 at 3:30 pm at
Double Tree Hotel by Hilton, 455 S. Broadway, Rte. 9, Tarrytown, NY 10591

You will hear my story of growing up in the Ultra-orthodox Jewish community; getting married at 18 without graduating high school and having 10 children before leaving my marriage five years ago.

During this talk you will develop a better understanding of the impact that harmful religions has on your daily life and what steps you can take today to heal.

I will guide you with hands on transformational activities where you will learn about the ways that you can heal and create a most amazing life for yourself , in touch with your inner spirit and voice

Looking forward to seeing you!

Harmful Religions: Three Defining Characteristics

Over the last few weeks, I have been discussing the impact of harmful religions publicly, on my facebook page, my blog and one on one with others. In this essay,  I will clearly delineate what I mean by harmful religions.

To be clear, I will not be discussing the validity of religions or the truth behind them (or not). I will solely  be focusing on the characteristics of a religion which causes emotional, psychological, financial and personal harm to its adherents. These issues cross all religions and borders. Though you may find them to be more prevalent in some religions than others, wherever they are found, they have similar effects on its adherents.

The three main characteristics of harmful religions are a fearful or scary God, encouragement to forsake your own will for that of God and commandments or requirements which are enforced by shame or social punishment.

As a young child, I knew exactly what God looked like. I don’t remember anyone telling me about this, but I was so sure that I didn’t ask anyone for confirmation. He was a stout older man with a long greying beard. In my mind, he sat atop each lamppost in my town and peered into every corner and would punish me if I did anything wrong. When I forgot to pay back my friend when I borrowed her pencil, I knew that He knew and I would pay for my crime one day.

This belief was further reinforced when I was in grade school and we were taught that before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, God would take a scale and put our good deeds on one side and our bad deeds on the other. If the bad deeds outweighed the good deeds, we would suffer and have a bad year.

In my childish mind, I clearly saw the old angry man taking the tarnished heavy scale out each year and slowly comparing my  good deeds to my bad ones. I would shiver in fright praying that I would not be punished and would survive the year intact.

Over time, though the vision of the old angry man left me, the fear did not. Because of what I had been told when I was so young, I was sure that I would be punished if I was not perfect. When I got married at 18 and was treated badly by my young husband, I did not reach out for help, but instead assumed that I was being punished for my misdeeds. Until today residue of that deep fear remains, as I take steps to heal from that deep fear which was inculcated into me at such a young age.

Many people from harmful religions will recognize this fear. The type of punishment which is threatened varies based on the religion, but the fear of God is universal. In some religions it may be the fear of Hell; in others the fear of getting punished today.

In reality, the world is a beautiful and loving place, with many wonderful things to offer. Raising children and people to see  the world through the lens of fear is wrong. I believe that it is at the root of so much dysfunction in the world and it stops people from becoming their best selves and instead encourages people to stay small and afraid

The second characteristic of harmful religions is the mandate to forsake one’s own beliefs and thoughts and replace them with those of the leaders, God or your parents.

As a very young child, I had a hard time believing that I deserve special treatment from God because of the nation that I was born in to, despite what I was taught. My natural belief was that all people were equal and deserved the same goodness and blessings of this world. However, I was told many times that my teachers, parents and Rabbis were  always right and that my beliefs were not important nor true.

I never expressed those thoughts because I knew that I would be reprimanded if I did and eventually even stopped having my own unique thoughts. The ongoing pressure to think and believe what everyone else was believing, wore me down. I no longer knew what I believed or even what I liked. I became a follower whose only goal was to please those around me and do what was required of me.

As humans we are all born with our own thoughts, feelings and beliefs. In any environment, we will be influenced by others, however to live in a religion which actively encourages you to squelch your beliefs, thoughts and personality is very harmful. Healing from this is possible but can require extensive effort. First one needs to come to the realization that one has unique thoughts and beliefs and once that breakthrough occurs, begin to identify one’s beliefs and thoughts.

The third characteristic of harmful religions is that its required practices are enforced by shame or social ostracization. Expectations are to be expected as part of any functioning society. However in harmful religions, the practices are often enforced using shame or social ostracization. In some religions, adherents are expected to spend hours a day proselytizing and teaching others about their religion. In other religions, adherents are expected to wear only specific clothing at all times. These expectations can be challenging but what is harmful is when they are enforced through the use of shame.

Using shame or social ostracization to enforce behaviors can set up a person to a lifetime of agony. Social acceptance is one of the most basic human needs and creating a system whereby approval and social acceptance is only gained by practicing certain behaviors is very problematic. In addition, shame is one of the earliest emotions and is the underlying cause of the feelings of worthlessness that some many people have. By playing on these emotions, religions can cause untold damage.They are equating a person’s value to what they do or don’t do for the religion.

Fear of God, encouragement to quiet ones inner voice and shame combined with the threat of social ostracization  are the three defining characteristics of harmful religion. By recognizing these issues and tackling them head on, you can truly heal and create an amazing life for yourself.

Were you raised in a harmful religion and are experiencing some of these issues? Are you ready to create an amazing life for yourself.  Click here to schedule a 15 minutes call https://calendly.com/beatriceweber/15min  and subscribe to my blog at beatriceweber.com

I am super excited to announce that I  will be speaking at the Awaken Fair in Tarrytown NY on Sunday April 28th at 3:30 pm. Purchase your tickets at http://www.awakenfair.net/guest-tickets.html

Looking forward to seeing you there!!!