When we come into this world we carry genes and the Divine spark. The rest comes from parental role modeling, social/environmental/cultural/religious influences, opportunity (or lack thereof) and choices along the way.
At 72 I find myself in places I never expected. Genetically I’ve been gifted with certain gifts – physically with a propensity to stay pretty healthy, trim and strong, emotionally – inquisitive, creative, somewhat of an introvert but resilient, and spiritually, open, connected and hopeful.
Yet over my lifetime, as a child of the 50s and 60s, sexism and religious narrowness often shaped my future and limited my vision of possibility as a Jewish woman. My sixth grade teacher, a tall strong male, humiliated me in public and fed into an insecure female self-image, my Jewish teachers and synagogue environment sent clear messages that my voice was not desired nor would it be appropriate, and my parents, immigrants, recovering from their traumatic Holocaust experience, protected and limited my comfort expressing myself so I learned early on to keep a low profile, all this in the context of a society and culture that limited woman’s participation, controlled by men with power. Potential scratched and submerged, withdrawn and insecure, I let go of any possibility of attending college and chose to become a secretary, an appropriate role and job for someone eager to please and to feel useful.
So how have I gotten here, 72, with both, undergraduate and graduate studies, Phi Bet Kappa, and two Master’s degrees? It’s somewhat of a mystery to me and yet, here I am, a graduate of Interior Design Program at UCLA, and ordained as both Cantor and Rabbi from AJRCA.
Too complicated and lengthy for this venue, I wrote a memoir so I could better understand the journey. One day I hope it will be published. I do know that there are threads that make transformation possible for all of us – angels amongst us, the Divine flow, and hidden opportunities often in plain sight. Being a late bloomer I bring years of experience and wisdom that I have accrued even in my most low and painful moments. Perhaps despite or because of the darkness, an overwhelming clarity has shined forth.
As Isaiah teaches, “Those who dwelled in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined.” Or even Psalms, “…the night would become as light around me.”
Blooming later in life affirms the incredible statement from our tradition we chant every Shabbat, “…they shall bear fruit even in old age.” It is pretty astounding that we can continue to thrive, produce, create, and even soar in ‘older’ age. Many important people, most particularly my husband Steve, and surprising moments have nurtured this possibility and I am so grateful to say, ‘it is never too late’ to seek your passion and follow your dreams. The opportunity to express my gifts, and have them received by others, is so glorious I am often beyond words. It is a blessing;
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech HaOlam.
Blessed are You, Adonai, our G-d, ruler of the Universe and mysterious hiddenness, Who shines light in unexpected places.
Rabbi and Cantor Eva Robbins, N’vay Shalom, Read more from Eva here.