Listen to the voice of the soul: ‘No feeling is wrong and no feeling is illegitimate.’ It’s OK!

By Betsy Frank

Betsy Frank is UHC para-rabbinic fellow and president.

As our winter season continues, the long hours of darkness certainly fit my mood. These days have been hard for our congregation.

Three deaths recently occurred during a three-week period in our community. Two were expected, with the passing of Martha Silverman and Louise Sommers. But Terry Fear‘s death took us by surprise.

Louise found comfort in prayer; Martha in hospital service

Louise lived a long 95 years. Shabbat prayers resonated with Louise to her last days.

Despite her inability in later years to communicate verbally, Louise could let all know her wishes with a smile or by taking a visitor’s hand. I smile, still, when I think of my visits with Louise over the past few years at Westminster Village. She contributed much to our congregation and the community at large.

Her obituary by daughter Nancy Sommers outlined Louise’s accomplishments with the congregation and community. Louise was a friend to many, including Dick and me. We both recall, fondly, our visits with Louise and her husband, Walter, at their home after Shabbat services.

Despite her inability in later years to communicate verbally, Louise could let all know her wishes with a smile or by taking a visitor’s hand.

Martha Silverman was the daughter of congregants who lived in Terre Haute many years ago.

Her brother, Jay, lives in Maryland and traveled to Terre Haute frequently to visit Martha, a long-time resident of Westminster Village.

Martha has been remembered by many as one who worked in food service at hospitals in Terre Haute. In fact, Norma Collins, our temple administrator, recalls Martha bringing snacks to Norma’s room after she gave birth to her son.

Until recent years, Martha frequently published letters to the editor in the Tribune-Star. Martha always remembered me by name and said, “You are from the Temple!”

Louise Sommers listens to Terry Fear speak during an event at Westminster Village.

Terry Fear’s passing stunned the community

Expected deaths certainly bring sorrow and arouse memories of our experiences with those who have gone. We often reflect quietly on their passing.

Sudden deaths are much harder to accept. On Dec. 13, I received a call from Terry Fear’s husband, Steve, informing me Terry had died suddenly. A week later, having officiated at Terry’s funeral, I found myself still in a state of shock.

I have shed tears over Louise and Martha’s deaths. Terry’s passing brought sobs!

As vice-president and secretary, Terry coordinated our Sacred Places Indiana grant, which brought matching funds for some badly needed building restoration.

Terry joined our congregation in 2010 and hit the ground running. She served as outreach coordinator and when we hosted events, Terry persuaded other congregations and organizations in the community to join us.

As vice-president and secretary, Terry coordinated our Sacred Places Indiana grant, which brought matching funds for some badly needed building restoration.

Through a Union for Reform Judaism leadership development project, Terry chaired our security committee and facilitated an assessment that led to important security enhancements to our Temple building.

Terry co-founded the Inter-Faith Council of the Wabash Valley and joined her neighbors in demonstrating against the death penalty. Terry displayed intense passion throughout all her efforts.

Whether she was serving as a caregiver to the Sommerses or working to make the Wabash Valley community a better place, Terry truly lived the principles of Tikkun olam.

Terry saw injustice, and took action

Protestors remembered Heather Heyer during a 2017 vigil at the Vigo County Courthouse.

Heather said, “If you are not outraged, you aren’t paying attention.”

A quote I read recently from Heather Heyer, the young woman who died during the Charlottesville demonstrations in 2017, exemplified Terry’s life.

Heather said, “If you are not outraged, you aren’t paying attention.”

Terry was outraged by many injustices. In fact, her email signature was:

Do justice …
Love mercy …
March proudly.

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Women’s March 2017

Terry noticed!

Sadness and blessings can co-exist

So, why this column’s title, “It’s OK”?

I must admit the past few weeks have been rough. I had been feeling guilty because I was not exhibiting gratitude for the blessings I do have.

Then I read a column in the Cleveland Jewish News by Ruchi Koval.

Ruchi wrote feelings of sadness can co-exist along with acknowledgment of blessings. And she said, “That’s OK”.

The soul knows this is important and the soul also knows that spring will, indeed, come again.

Her final paragraphs truly resonated:

Don’t bully me and don’t tell me what to feel. Because no feeling is wrong and no feeling is illegitimate. The voice of the soul is too important to ignore, too wise to overlook and too kind to push away.

In these dark winter months, we may acknowledge the sadness. It is OK! The soul knows this is important and the soul also knows that spring will, indeed, come again.

Shalom,

Betsy Frank

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