Hillel used to say, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” Shammai says: “Impose a regularity on your study of the Torah; speak little and act a lot; and welcomes each individual with a benevolent face.” (Pirkei Avot / Fathers’ Ethics 1.14-15)
To be able be yourself, what a wonderful gift! A gift that I only discovered after many years of suffering, but that I’m starting to fully grasp fully now. I had to learn to accept myself as I am, without seeking to conform to the norms of femininity imposed on me by my education, or the heteronormativity around me. If I was not going to accept myself first, who would do it for me?
And without loving myself, how would I love others? To love others, to be a crafts-woman of this love, peace and justice is important to me. That’s what makes me truly human.
And this not only some day when I will be perfect, or a much improved version of myself – but now, with the means that have at my disposition; to share what I have received, and help others to walk in their path and show them that God accepts them and loves them as they are and invites them to know Him: homo, straight, trans, bi, a , inter, queer, of all races, all kinds, all ages, all sizes …
Life is both a funny thing and a wonderful gift that is worth to be lived to the fullest… that is what I have experienced, time and again, throughout life’s ups and downs.
Life spoils us with a lot of surprises (and also throws them at us in rather unexpected ways), and sometimes we have to learn to swim only after jumping into the open sea – but if you look towards what lies ahead with an open heart, you can see little miracles everywhere.
My name is Chavah Yasmeen. I grew up in Germany and lived in different parts of the world – USA, England and Israel – and eventually moved to Switzerland. There, I studied theology, did a degree in counseling and am now doing a Certificate of advanced Studied in conflict resolution.
I am interested in a lot of things: spirituality – Jewish, feminist, and Christian – the Bible and its interpretation(s), reading and writing, photography, hiking and cooking. In my daily life, my spirituality and my reading of the Scriptures, I draw on my Jewish roots, but also in the richness of the different sensibilities and spiritualities that I have come across and that I have come to appreciate during my life. My roots are from all around the globe: Nigeria, North Africa and Middle East, Scotland, USA, Ukraine – they are primarily Jewish, but also Mennonite.
I worked in kitchens, in a museum, as a guide-translator, as a secretary; I taught introductory courses in Biblical Hebrew, Old Testament wisdom literature, and Judaism: I wrote a book. Until recently I was a pastor of a church, a job that I had to leave behind after coming out: I am lesbian.
Here I am, on my way to new projects, new heights to climb …
My vision of life and spirituality is well summed up by Abraham Heschel’s quote:
“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”