Combining My Passions: Natural Pain Relief and Jewish Multiculturalism

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

May 10th, 2010 • Dance for Natural Pain ReliefPrint Print

As those of you who have followed me over the years know, this health & wellness/natural pain relief educator business is the most recent of my many hats. The bulk of my life was dedicated to Jewish multicultural education – raising consciousness about and value for Jewish history and heritage from Africa, Central, South, and East Asia, the Middle East, Central and Latin America, and Southern Europe – which is anywhere from marginalized to completely invisible in mainstream Jewish life.

Now that I’ve covered the foundational work of getting Dancing with Pain® off the ground, and now that I have had a break from my most recent, and very intense, Jewish multicultural project (sending me into yet another, “I’ve had it with Jews!” fit, once again considering dying my hair blonde and moving to Denmark), I am ready to dive back into the Jewish world and combine my passions.

For years, I have had a dream of going back to Israel and working with suicide bomb survivors who live not only with chronic pain, but with the grief, sadness, and anger that accompany being victim to such a horrific act of violence. I feel I have something to contribute not only on the physical level, but on the emotional and spiritual levels. A significant part of my healing journey was learning to deal with my own anger, which in my case stemmed from being repeatedly traumatized by the very healthcare practitioners to whom I turned for help:

I had to learn to live in the present, instead of repeating the past in my head — in the misguided hope that somehow, by playing the scene over and over, I could rewrite the script. I had to learn to tap into the well of rage and use it as power, channeling its raw energy into healing energy that I could use to dissipate pain. I had to learn to rewire the pathways in my brain, extracting myself from the spinning cycle that led me into a pit of despair and instead training my brain to invite, focus on, and expand the light, love, and healing in my life.

In addition to working with suicide bomb survivors, I hope to work with marginalized, poor, and otherwise under-served Israeli populations. Now that I have had the experience of being able to teach someone who speaks a different language than I do, I am excited that I may be able to help people who speak neither English nor Hebrew – like the elderly population in the Ethiopian-Israeli community.

When I lived in Israel, I always was disturbed that anything from street signs to government service hotlines to prescription bottles were offered in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, and English, but not in Amharic. Even though I am bilingual, it was such a struggle for me to function in Hebrew, when it came to paying bills and such. And so my heart went out to the Ethiopian immigrant population, especially the elderly, who had no respite from not understanding what was going on, and who therefore ended up vulnerable and dependent on others.

By learning some basic Amharic, by working with a translator, and by communicating through body language, I hope to do my small part in crossing that divide and making the meeting of cultures more of a two-way street than the arrogant one-way street it is today. Inshalla.

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