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Orah Zamir

My name is Orah. I currently live in Philadelphia. I originally come from Massachusetts. My spiritual home where I lived for 11 years is New York City. I always identified myself as a singer. Now, at age 78, I can no longer sing and have realized that the “voice” I have been seeking is my spiritual voice. My journey has been that I am developing this voice as I write various pieces of my story. There are some very dark aspects of my story including growing up with a mother who probably had Narcissistic Personality Disorder and was determined to control every aspect of my life and a father who probably came home from Germany in WWII with PTSD and went into rages every night at dinner for many years. I experienced a minor incident of sexually inappropriate behavior when I was sent to a family photographer for my 6th grade graduation and a serious adult rape in which I was lucky to escape being killed. I moved to New York City in 1974, the year the first woman became a Cantor, the spiritual leader responsible for the Jewish Music chant tradition. I knew I wanted to do that. I spent five years at NYU getting my MA degree in Performance Studies which included both theater and ritual. I studied Eastern European Jewish culture extensively. I then moved to Philadelphia where I got a second MA degree in Jewish Music and studied the Cantorial tradition. I conducted High Holiday services every year, taught Hebrew school, conducted life cycle ceremonies and served as the spiritual leader of a congregation for three years until I got breast cancer. After that I did not have a pulpit again. I trained to be a chaplain which I did for 15 years until the second time I had breast cancer. I went through what I call my year of Hell until I finally had surgery to remove my gall bladder, got Osteoporosis from a hormone I took to block a recurrence of the cancer. I stopped working then. I learned that I have Complex PTSD from childhood trauma and started writing to completely reframe my life with the understanding that I have been living with, and healing from, childhood trauma. I have been in recovery from food addiction and other compulsive behaviors for 30 years. I am hoping that I can complete my memoir and, in the process, move fully into a healing place and, hopefully, help others who have been through childhood trauma but are afraid to tell their stories.