Archive for September 2019

 

Episode 38 of HatRadio! is a show about a loving couple, two people who built upon their relationship, to the extent that they launched a dream together, this past summer - a camp for teens and young adults with autism. 

My guests for this show are Shawn Kendal and Shawna Akerman - affectionately called 'The Shawns'. I have known Shawn for 30 years and recently interviewed his father, Dr. Saul Kendal on episode 32 of HatRadio!. I only met Shawna prior to the show (although she says we once met), and quickly determined she is a fireball, committed to developing her own soul and those of others. They are a special couple. At mark 14:12 of the show, Shawna said, with tears in her eyes, that Shawn is the man of her dreams.'

There is much to say about the Shawns. Like all of personkind, they have had their challenges. Shawn lost two brothers, one to a car accident and the second to illness. Shawna's brother took his own life at age 27. Shawn has a daughter, Talia at Laurier and Rachel, 21, who is non-verbal and on the autistic spectrum. Shawna has two children who are profoundly deaf and use cochlear implants. 

But here's the thing, and you'll hear this during the interview. Both of them are incredibly positive about life. While Shawn says he has moments of bitterness about having a daughter who has never uttered a word to him, at the 29:59 mark of the show, he said, "she's incredible", and added he and his daughter understand each other in other ways, in very beautiful ways. My dear friend, Shawn, also said at 38:00, "Rachel is a pure soul".  Shawna responded at 34:30 mark, when I asked her if she ever felt her children were lacking, 'absolutely not' and said proudly her daughter is a dancer and cheerleader and an incredible artist, and her son is a deaf DJ. Both my guests agreed that their children have brought a lot in life, to many. Now that is very cool!

The camp the Shawns started from scratch is called THE KARMA COUNTRY CAMP (www.karmacountrycamp.com). They described it as affordable, and a combination of unstructured activities in a structured environment. What they mean is their campers - about 40 this summer between 12 and 21 - were presented with activities from sports, science, coding, cooking and board games and were allowed to do choose they wanted. The idea was to socialize the participants, encourage their interactions and friendships. This can be a challenge with people who have autism, however, when worked at, as the Shawns did, change can happen. And indeed, it did.

Shawn said the campers made them laugh their heads off. One young man only spoke a word at a time, and from time to time would run into the activity area and yell, 'scotch'. Whatever that meant, it came out funny and the campers and staff roared. Shawna explained that she, Shawn and the staff would look for the “thing” they could uncover, the mystery of their camper's soul, that when understood could help the camper enjoy themselves and relax. One such mystery was recognizing in a male camper that he would push himself hard (in play etc.) for two hours and then would just drop with exhaustion. They became aware of his timing of when he'd stop and needed rest. Recognizing that helped him and the staff cater to his biorhythm and his needs overall.

Hear about Shawn's beautiful work on a job-fair, to assist individuals to secure employment. 86% of people with autism are unemployed.  At 1:07:55 hear which great people in history had autism. Dan Aykroyd and Seinfeld are two Hollywood examples.  Susan Boyle is another, as is Albert Einstein. Shawna says that's not surprising because he was able to hyper-focus, as people with autism are able, and therefore come up with very special discoveries.

1:17:26 Shawn said, "I used to care about other people.... we’d go into the mall and she'd (Rachel) would make loud noises....I don't give a shit anymore!"   1:18:10 Shawna said, people often say to her daughter, 'you shouldn't work because you are deaf'. Her daughter responds, "I can work anywhere I want. I'm just like you."

At 1:19:55. I talk about Judaism, "especially before Rosh Hashanah" to enlighten my listeners about my religion/people, so if any of them are harboring stereotypes or even are anti-Semitic, they might understand us more so and minimizes their negative or hateful thoughts and bring unity to our world. I talk about Judaism and love. 

What I took out of this show is, how important it is to find one's passion in life. Hit your stride. Do that thing which makes you happy. You will grow, if you do, a lot, in ways, you had no idea you could.  Similarly, I discovered through Shawn Kendal and Shawna Ackerman - the Shawns that diligent and consistent work on a relationship can create something magical. Similarly, the two represent what the fulfillment of a dream can make - personal and collective satisfaction.  Isn't that what we all want? I think so. 

Enjoy Episode 38 of HatRadio! Let me know your thoughts and please, share the link.

HatRadio! The show that schmoozes.   

 

 

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Episode 37 of HatRadio! stars Toronto born novelist, professor of Hebrew literature, Sharon Hart-Green.

I didn't know Sharon prior to this interview. We discussed the blank-slate aspect of this schmooze; you know getting to know one another on the run. When doing such interviews, one hopes they’ll like their guest, or at least be interested in them. I was fortunate. I experienced both with Sharon Hart-Green and I had a sense she was okay with me.

From our time together, it became clear that reading copious amount of literature and writing books and short stories has turned Sharon into an exuberant, curious person, with an old soul who served tea to her University of Toronto Hebrew-literature students. (Or perhaps it was the other way around. Maybe she was drawn to literature because of those character traits. Hard to say). 

Regardless, the interview tells a lot about my guest.  At the 4:00 minute mark she defines writing versus painting and drawing and composing music. About the latter she says they are ‘instinctive’, pure art, whereas writing is indeed instinctual, but “when you’re going through the editing process it is highly intellectual, where the scholarly aspect comes in.”  It appears, Sharon sees herself as a person who works both from the heart and the mind.  

Sharon continues, a writer never really gets over rejection. “You have to be able to take it…. or you’ll neve be able to continue. You’re going to be rejected 100 times….,” she said. But Sharon has a technique to handle rejection. She has thought through this challenge. Whenever she is rejected, she tries twice or three times as hard. When they tell her no, she pursues yes’s all over the place.  Sharon is tenacious.

Later, around 30 minutes we talked about her love of books, especially first edition. Sharon has collected “beautiful” children’s books and poetry books.  She says she loves beauty (and will therefore not read Russian literature at this stage of life).  

Finally, around the 48:00-minute mark, we talked about Shmuel Yosef Agnon, a Nobel Prize winner for literature? One day while perusing the shelves of a used book store, Sharon came across a book by this brilliant writer. She flipped through the pages. Bought the book. Went home and read voraciously, in awe of Agnon’s ability to weave a plot, to be keenly linear in his short stories. She wondered why at nineteen years old she hadn’t heard of him. Why was she so sheltered in her Jewish upbringing? Why hadn’t she been exposed to this modern Jewish writer of short stories and books, a master of so many obscure texts’, who brilliantly juxtaposed the realities of the secular and the religious, someone who took Judaism seriously? Why hadn’t she known about Agnon’s character’s, Hershel Horowitz, or his short stories including, Agunot and Tehilla? Where had he been? Where had she been?

Once hooked, Sharon read anything she could get her hands on by this lover of Israel, a Zionist - Agnon. Over time, Agnon, unbeknownst to him, directed Sharon. She ended up writing her Ph.D thesis on him, and later on teaching his writings and that of other Jewish literary giants at a university level. Quite a whirlwind of a discovery.

At 55:28 Sharon tells how she was teaching a course at university called, ‘Faith and Doubt in Modern Jewish Poetry’ and included poems from Chava Pinchas Cohen. One day, while in Israel Sharon met Chava at a friend’s house by happenstance and ultimately became Chava’s translator. Sharon ended up translating and compiling one hundred of Chava’s poems, called, ‘Bridging the Divide’. She read, ‘The Veil and The Crown’, one of Chava’s poems, on the show. We discussed the arduous challenge of translating literature and/or poetry from one language to another. Fascinating!  

At 1:04:48 my guest and I read a short story she wrote called, ‘The Sign’. We discussed it.  I commented on how I enjoyed her slices of life, the nuances in the story, such as the protagonists joy at staring in the window of a fish store and seeing the the silent fish and their perfection in death. Have a listen to our rendition of the story. Doing this reading with Sharon, was enjoyable. I like readings on HatRadio! It adds pizzazz, dimension.   

At 1:21:31, Sharon and I, a mother of three boys, discussed ‘Come Back for Me’, the novel she wrote. It took us a while to get there, but once we did our tete-a-tete was compelling. We talked about the Holocaust survivor in the novel, and a young girl in Toronto who lost her uncle, a second father to her, also a Holocaust survivor. Within our discussion, Sharon said she was not sure whether she would be a ‘righteous Jew’ in a time of war – i.e. save a non-Jewish family at the risk of her own life or her family’s life.  I asked her, how it is that Holocaust survivors are able to go on, celebrate life, after everything they had experienced. Sharon said, “that question haunted her”. In fact, it compelled her to write the book.

 

Episode 37 with Sharon Hart-Green was comfortable, insightful and enjoyable.    She is a lovely person. We could be friends. She is tenacious, head-strong and refuses to turn away when the agents and literary outlets tell her, ‘not good enough’. Have a listen. Learn about Agnon and Chava Pinchas Cohen. Take in her short story, ‘The Sign’. What do you learn from it? Wonder  how it is that Sharon created the characters in her book, 'Come Back for Me'. Where in her mind did they come from? Or was it her heart? 

But mostly, discover the soul of this writer, the spirit of this word smith and the wonderment of this lover of books and the word itself. Discover Sharon Hart-Green. Enjoy!  

Hatradio! The show that schmoozes.

 

 

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Welcome to Episode 36 with Michael Soberman, a Jewish community leader, a serious camp guy, a lover of Israel and a supreme storyteller. This folks, is one fascinating schmooze!

Michael is a riveting character. The volume of his speech is loud, his words pour out quickly with very few ums, he says he has an opinion about everything, and he craves being in the spotlight (but once there he performs very well).  Michael's very bright yet still does not view himself as an adult (neither do I. Do you?). Michael studied law and teaching, but never really practiced either much to the chagrin of his parents. We all know guys like that, right?

Our time together was enlightening and exciting. Here are some of the highlights:

1) At the 30:00 minutes mark, Michael states categorically his biggest fear was being a parent of kids who didn't like camp. Happily, that is not the case. His two kids love Camp Kadimah just as Michael does. At 30:55 Michael quotes the sociologist, Erving Goffman, who says camp represents the ultimate dependent independence. Campers enjoy a sense of freedom for being on their own, but the environment is a secure one. He explains how camp is an immersive environment as reflected through four categories: a) there is one central control; b) it's a communal setting; c) camp has a tight schedule; d) everyone is there for a common purpose. Interestingly, Goffman uses these same categories for jail. 

Michael talks about his camp buddies like Little Bubbs, Curly, Meathead and Squish. He concludes the camp piece saying, "“people have fierce loyalty for their camp...there is something about Kadimah that is so unique and special."

2) At 15:17, I asked Michael if he ever misses strangers. In response, Michael tells a beautiful story about becoming friends with a stranger, a member of Air Canada concierge service. His name was Paul.  Unfortunately, Paul died at 49. Michael went to his funeral. The concierge crew couldn't believe Michael came. Later, at the airport he was upgraded to business class because Paul's friends and colleagues were so impressed Michael had honored Paul through that act of kindness. Michael is a good man

3) Michael talks about Israel a lot. He's been there 80 times. At 38:05 he says:  "I have an entire infrastructure in Israel. I could pick my life up here, move to Israel and not be lonely.... I’m definitely a Tel- Aviv Jew. I don’t like going in the ocean, but I like being by the ocean.”

4) Okay, here's a great one. Go to 52:24 and hear Michael's story about his son's foreskin. In short, the mo'el handed Michael the little foreskin in a plastic bag and said 'as father of this boy you have one more task. You have to bury it, anywhere you like.' Michael stuff the foreskin in his pocket, took it home and put it in his passport for safe-keeping. One day, flying to Israel,  he shocked the woman at an airport check-in counter as the foreskin fell out of this important document. She said, 'sir you cannot transport fruit over international borders.' She then adjusted and stated, 'you are not able to transport organs. “ Anyway, the foreskin got through. Michael looked for a tree in Israel to bury the foreskin under, as his spiritual leader told him, that fable has it, burying it under a tree means your son will grow tall. He found a suitable tree, buried the foreskin and called it the Joshua tree. One day, he saw an enormous Sephardic family picnicking under the Joshua tree......well have a listen. It's a delightful story  

5) 1:03:34: Putting on tefillin at Birkenau is one of the most touching points of this episode. Michael and I read a piece he wrote, about the actual time when he was on one of his many March of the Living trips and stood shivering in a Birkenau bunker, putting on his phylacteries.  All this time he was memorializing Hugo Lowey. Hugo Lowey was beaten to death by a Nazi on the Birkenau platform for refusing to give up his tallit and tefillin. This story is terribly sad. It is also hopeful. (Howard Pasternack, HatRadio!'s production guy, did a wonderful job of producing this piece. Take a moment to hear it. Grow.)  

Episode 36 is bursting with Michael's stories, memories and colorful thoughts. He does indeed have an opinion about everything and shares them freely. A couple of things to thing about when you listen to the show: Do you know someone like Michael who absolutely swears by the camp experience? Have you ever performed an act of kindness for someone dead or alive like Michael did for Paul? What did you do with your son's foreskin? 

Have a listen. Share the link. Take some time to learn through and from Michael Soberman, and then please share the link.  

HatRadio! The show that schmoozes. 

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Thank you David Nefesh, for the HatRadio! song, and to Howard Pasternack for his post-production work. Great job guys. Yisha ko'ach (Yiddish for 'way to go') 

Credit for background music in story: https://filmmusic.io
"Parting of the Ways - Part 1" by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

 

 

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Episode 35 of HatRadio! features Robert Pal, an ADHD Coach as my guest. Robert is generously giving away his online course - taking charge of your ADHD - for FREE, simply for listening to this show. You can secure the course until the end of September and then study it when ever you like. To get the course go to his website - robertpal.com and click 'online course' at the top of the homepage.  Once you've done that the site will walk you through the rest. At some point you'll be asked for a coupon number to receive it for free. Input 90219 and you're ready to go.

Thanks Robert. Good luck to all!

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No doubt, you've been faced by an overwhelming challenge in life, one you weren't sure you'd prevail over. Well, Robert Pal was you at the turn of the millennium and he looked fear, financial destruction, and defeat straight in the eye. It was an iffy time.  In episode 35 of HatRadio! at the 1:00:21 mark, you'll hear Robert's story about a substantial jewelry business he had built, which allowed for a beautiful life with his family, and a very decent living. Then one lovely day, Revenue Canada (called that at the time) arrived at his company's doorstep. They challenged Robert on an archaic statue, and a prolonged 4-year battle with this government body ensued. 

You know the day when that phone call comes, or the email arrives, the one you've been dreading, or perhaps hoping would pull you out of the muck? Well, Robert got exactly that, and he discovered....he'd lost. This entrepreneur who had always run a clean shop, had no choice but to declare bankruptcy.

What do you do on days like that? Crawl into bed? Worse - consider ending things.  Robert, got into his car, sped along the highway at too high of a speed in disbelief and sadness....and then......images of his two little girls, twins popped into his head. He slowed the Lexus down, went home, picked up his 3-year old’s and offered them a day of their own, wherever they'd like to go. They chose the CNN Tower. Robert had a stark realization of what was really important in life. 

Life had changed for Robert Pal, as it does for all of us. Over time this dismal time in his life, what seemed like a defeat, proved to be a victory.  

Listen to Episode 35 of HatRadio! a show about you and me, an hour and a half schmooze about responding to tremendous adversity, standing tall and and committing to LIFE!  

At 22:35, listen to a tool Robert shares called the GRATITUDE VISIT. He did so with his cousin Ronny. It's fascinating and something you may want to do with an individual in your life whose been good to you. 

At 41:40, hear my schmooze with Robert about age,as we're both about to turn 60. He is developing a plan for his 60th decade, where he wants to go, what he wants to do. Again, a compelling idea and positive approach to life.

1:29:00, learn about the FUCK-YOU ALL tool. This motivated Robert. It could do for you too.

Everyone has those awful times in life, the part of our personal narrative that makes us wonder about our very existence. Robert did in the form of bankruptcy, a total change of life, and the need to redefine himself. Out of all of that craziness, this very thoughtful and pensive fellow became an ADHD coach. He decided to help others through his experience. You'll hear all about his encouraging journey in Episode 35.

Grow through Robert Pal's life. Identify with his struggle and his win!  Enhance your life and that of your family's through this marvelously positive schmooze. 

HatRadio! The show that schmoozes.  

 

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