I think what has shaped me more than anything is my religious experience in the

I think what has shaped me more than anything is my

This preview shows page 142 - 144 out of 235 pages.

I think what has shaped me more than anything is my religious experience in the Orthodox Church. Its emphasis is the life of prayer and repentance, actions I have submitted to taking part in whether I like it or not. Some days I have a more positive view than others. Losing hope in this life and gaining a mindset of hope lying in the future eternal life have been my focus by conviction if not by desire. I now have a spiritual guide in conjunction with the Orthodox Church . . . a force in my life that pressures me to become the person God made me to be. I cannot blame others for my shortcomings and struggles. I have to own them as my own and face them each day. Steven Feldman “I would go audition . . ., but there weren’t many places that wanted to hire an autoharp player who played Jimmie Rodgers songs and yodeled.”
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131 Steven Feldman is an Orthodox Rabbi with advanced emphysema. He has made his livelihood as an artist—a painter, jeweler, and musician—and as a teacher, although he said he lacks the energy to do any of these things lately, other than play one of his Middle Eastern stringed instruments. He appeared to be in his mid-70s, but he said he was 60 years old. Often, his voice trailed off inaudibly, with many long, reflective pauses in his answers. I interviewed him in the galley kitchen of his one bedroom apartment, his jeweler’s tools neatly arranged on his bench in the dining nook. Academic reference texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and English lined his living room walls. When asked to describe the high points and low points of his life, and how they have affected the parts of his identity he has consciously released or added on over time, Steven talked about academic and spiritual experiences during his teens, including leaving home and living on the streets with various Hare Krishna cults in Los Angeles and Berkeley. He fathered a child at 16, and tried marriage in his early 20s. He attended Yeshiva twice as an adult before accepting ordination as a Rabbi six or seven years ago. A high point in my life is feeling God leaning towards me in actual divine existence, which was loving, and which I first was made aware of when I was around 16 years old. I’d been reading books about spiritual beliefs of the various traditions before that, and found that it was nothing like the actual experience. After that experience, my understanding with what I learned or heard from other people, it transformed what I had learned before. And to some extent, that has reoccurred during various parts in life that dramatically influenced what I decided, I mean, changed. I was invited to leave high school. My principal thought he was doing something bad to me, punishing me or something like it. That set a course in my life full of anguish, of course. I started traveling some and I started falling into an exploratory way of living. I ended up not far from where my parents were from, in Oxnard, about 60 miles north of Los Angeles. And I ended up for a while in Los Angeles, and I lived on the street. Things were sort of unfriendly with the people I was with. . . . I was just sort of fairly aimless, wherever I was at the time of this occurrence I was talking about. I was sitting in front of the county art
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