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Four Questions with Visiting Author: Debbie Shapiro

What brings you to Boulder?

It’s a crazy story. Several years ago when I was editor of a Breslov website, I received an email from a woman in Denver asking me several questions about Breslov and Judaism. Eventually I got tired of writing her and suggested that we learn together on the phone. Being women, and, as, we know, “Women Talk,” our learning sessions morphed into discussions about everything under the sun and we became very close friends.  Michelle eventually came to visit me in Israel, and much to my family’s amazement, she was as nice in person as she was over the telephone.  Now, I’m on my way to visit my sisters on the West Coast, so of course I couldn’t come to the States without making a stop in Denver.  And as for Boulder, Chany reads my articles in the Bina Magazine and made a point of visiting me when she came to Eretz Yisroel. I was honored that she invited me to speak to the Boulder community and am looking forward to meeting some amazing people.

What’s your biggest challenge in life?

They say the longest distance is the distance between one’s head and heart.  There are so many things I know to be true and yet I often find it difficult to act upon that knowledge.  It’s a constant struggle, but that’s what life is all about, and since I’m struggling, it must mean that I’m human!

Shortly after you were diagnosed with Parkinson’s, you retired from your position as director of Public Relations for a non-profit. So what do you do now to keep busy? 

In addition to my main vocation as a wife, mother and grandmother, I’ve also, to everyone’s amazement, started a daily exercise regime. People are constantly asking me if I have always been athletic, but I wasn’t. I was the kid who would duck when the ball came my way, and when it came to choosing teams, they would fight over which team had to take me! But today, since exercise is the only proven route to slowing the progression of PD  I have no choice and must persevere!

In addition, I am working on two projects. As a result of the series Living with Parkinson’s that appeared in Binah Magazine, we’ve started an international teleconference support group for orthodox Jewish women dealing with Parkinson’s. Although so far we’ve only had one teleconference, the energy was incredible, and all the women are looking forward to our next monthly meeting. In addition, the group is sharing information via a emailed newsletter. A similar group will soon be starting for the men.

I am also giving regular workshops to women on how to teach their children about personal safety, in other words, how to keep them safe from pedophiles. The women who have taken the workshop, which I keep very small so that everyone can feel free to ask questions, tell me that the workshops empower them with the tools they need  to teach their children proper boundaries in a way  that is compatible with a Torah lifestyle. I’m working with a well known educator to create a program to teach other women how to lead similar workshops. This is a volunteer job, and all proceeds are being used to help cover the cost of therapy for victims of sexual abuse.

Are you doing anything else while visiting Denver?

I’ve had a great time so far. My friend has been exposing me to the decadent life of America—a massage, a trip to the nail spa (I won’t even tell you what my toes look like), and it has been so much fun! I’m looking forward to hiking in the Rockies, and to giving a writing workshop to the students at my alma mater, Bais Yaakov of Denver. I wonder if the school has changed in the last 43 years? I certainly haven’t, or as I used to tell my friends last year, I’m really just sweet sixteen backwards, with orthopedic stockings!

Listen to her engaging funny presentation and be inspired to go out and tackle whatever’s getting you down at this women-only event.

WHERE: Boulder Center for Judaism 4900 Sioux Drive, Boulder, CO 80303
WHEN: October 15th at 6:00 pm
COST: $10

More information at:

About Chany Scheiner

Co - Director of Boulder Center for Judaism. Any successful organization needs a heart and that is what Chany provides, along with organization, marketing, innovative programming, and countless Shabbat dinners. Some of her accomplishments are large and public like the annual menorah lighting on Pearl Street and the matzo and shofar factories, while others are quiet and private like the time she spends counseling individuals and sharing the wisdom that comes from study.

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