Letters to the Editor

Seeing loss through Jewish lens, Lederman strikes chord

I was moved by reading Amy Hirshberg Lederman’s articles about the loss of her beloved husband, Ray, in the context of her Judaism. In expressing herself through the medium of the written word, I know that Amy was better able to deal with her pain and suffering.

I am a Jewish man who has been severely afflicted with schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder since the age of 18. I take medicine for both, but there is no cure for either.

I just turned 62. I was never married and never had children. When I look back upon my life, I’m still able to feel fortunate and blessed to be what is termed a “survivor.” I couldn’t have made it in life without the help of HaShem and Divine Providence. My faith in HaShem is greater than the mental agony I have to endure.

Today, I am a writer of literary novels and short stories. The same way Amy Hirshberg Lederman reaches out to HaShem in her anguish at having to adjust to life as a widow, I also reach out to HaShem, and I’ve learned to be grateful for the moments in my life when I am free of agony. Those pain-free interludes are HaShem’s gift to me.

I pray every day beginning with the afternoon service at Chofetz Chayim. The men at the minyan respect me because they know that despite my illness, I still love HaShem. A young Jewish man, originally from Uzbekistan, Moisheach, said to me, “Steven, you are an inspiration. No matter what happens to you, you keep going.” It was one of the kindest things that anyone has ever said to me.

I always have to remind myself that as a practicing Orthodox Jew, my faith in HaShem is more important to me than any other thing in my life. That is what it means to me to be a Jewish man.

— Steven Freedman