Jewish& is a blog by Be’chol Lashon, which gives voice to the racial, ethnic and cultural diversity of Jewish identity and experience. The original multicultural people, Jews have lived around the world for millennia. Today, with globalism and inclusion so key in making choices about engaging in Jewish life,Jewish& provides a forum for personal reflection, discussion, and debate.
In many important ways, Rachel Beck‘s life is typical of many American Jews, growing up in the suburbs of Philadephia. In other ways, her story is quite unique. Beck has just published her first book and we caught up with her to learn more.
Team Be’chol Lashon: Tell us a little about the book:
Beck: Finding Your Way When Life Changes Your Plans: A Memoir of Adoption, Loss of Motherhood and Remembering Home is my autobiography. It traces my life from my beginning as an orphan in India, to my life in the United States. Throughout, I tell the story of trying to find my place as a Jewish Indian American woman.
One particular focus is how my body failed me in becoming a mom. I share my struggles with endometriosis and miscarriage. I take a hard look at some of the basic questions of modern womanhood and how it connected to our bodies and our relationships with others. I have had to find answers to questions that go hand in hand with infertility and disappointment. As I’ve wondered if the pain would always be inside of me, I also had to learn to let go of what my life should be or what it could be.
As an adoptee, I discuss adoption through an adoptees perspective. While my experience and the emotions I have encountered are unique, I think they will resonate for other adoptees. I also wanted to open up the experience of the adoptee to others, to help them see how adoption impacted my life. I open my heart and share the truth of my experience. Part of that journey has been about going back to India for multiple visits and how that has helped heal my soul. I also am clear, my family who adopted me is amazing. They have supported me in trying to search my roots.
Team Be’chol Lashon: What made you decide to write this book?
Beck: I often talk to groups around the country on diversity awareness and women entrepreneurship. I draw on my own life story and experiences, as an adoptee and philanthropist. Frequently during the Q& A part of the talk, someone raises their hand and says, “This is such an interesting story, you should write a book.”
After this happened multiple times a dear friend asked, “How many signs from the universe do you need, to know it is meant for you to write your story?”
Team Be’chol Lashon: What impact do you hope it will make?
Beck: My primary goal is to reach people who battling some of the things that I discuss in the book. I want then to know that they are not alone. This is very important to me, because without the support of my family and friends I would not have been able to conquer all that I have. Their strength lifted me up when I needed it. I want to pass on that strength.
Some of the issues that I have battled, like infertility, PTSD and anxiety are issues that have stigmas attached to them and are not often discussed. But in writing about them, I am breaking the silence and the shame. They are part of me and I want to change the way we see them. I want to inspire people, and be there for them.
I also want to make this world a better place. And so my husband and I are donating part of the proceeds of the book back to the orphanage from which I was adopted.
Be’chol Lashon: Was it difficult for you to share such an intimate story?
Beck: Yes, it was not easy at all for me to write this book. It opened up old emotional wounds. There were times when I would be writing that I would be crying at the same time. But the process has also been extremely therapeutic. My hope is that people will be compassionate, and understand that this was not an easy story to share in such a public forum.
A person told me last year, “Have faith in your readers, and trust them”. I am taking his advice and sharing with them my whole truth. When people read the book, I hope they see how much courage it took for me to share my story.