Posted by: Leah | March 24, 2013

Jews Unchained or Reflections of a Toastmaster

I should tell you guys upfront  – Passover is NOT my favourite Jewish festival. Every year before that you can hear my traditional annual bitching and moaning on how the hell I am going to survive 8 (eight!!!!) days without any leavened products when my diet relies heavily on them! I make it through every year. I am a Jew. I kvetsch.

I also get asked (traditionally so) why the hell I keep torturing myself by observing this festival. My answer is simple: as a Jew, I don’t feel I can let go of certain things – and letting go of going leavened free (but not rice free hehe – I follow the Sephardic tradition) would be more devastating for me than observing this festival. So. I persevere, I moan but I do it.

I have thought of pretending I like Passover but I like to be my authentic self, and if my authentic self dislikes Passover, that is ok. Not perfect, but I am not striving for perfection, rather for progress.

Passover is of course a festival of freedom. We were slaves in Egypt, but now we are free. We have to talk about this story and reflect, think and never again. The latter, however, is easier to say than to do. Slavery for me is a very broad concept. We were slaves in Egypt, but now are we really that free? Many would say: no, we are slaves of mortgages, bosses and freedom 55. I would not try to mix up commitments with slavery. Having commitments is healthy, being enslaved into beliefs is not.

For me, the worst salvery comes from being forced into being somebody else, from following someone else’s dreams, living up to somebody else’s expectations and pursuing somebody else’s goals. Every now and then I get this rush: oh my do I have property yet, do I have kids yet? What am I thinking? But then, I say to myself: Leah, chill, what do you really want? What does your heart want? Do what really matters to you, not to the society.

Freedom now has more to do with being free in your heart and your mind. The hardest thing. EVER.

You may want to ask me what Toastmasters have to do with all this. Lemme explain: I have been attending Toastmasters for almost four years (oh my!) – over this period of time I have seen amazing progress and disappointments – as everywhere else. The Toastmasters program is very tricky though. The projects you complete give you skills, but everybody else around in Toastmasters gets the same information – the same gestures and suggestions for improvement. Some people follow the suggestions are bit too closely, become robotic, trying to cram 1,2,3 and gestures, and moving around the stage and vocal variety into their speeches. The more I stick around Toastmasters, the more I think that you can only do quality speeches if you show your real self, but to do that you need to understand who you are, and what you are all about. If I am to show who I am, I need to be free. Toastmasters are also about freedom. Freedom to implement helpful tips and suggestions, but stay yourself.

I would like to wish you a Chag Kasher v’Sameach if you are as me entering Pesach. We will be free. One day. If you are not observing Passover, I would like to wish you and all of us freedom of soul, mind and heart. Happy Sunday.





  1. Interesting article. I agree with you 100%, the best speeches come from being completely yourself, which for a newbie like me, isn’t easy.

  2. Thank you, Todd for your comment!

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