‘Seven Springs’ tells a tale of tikkun

A childhood trauma set a woman on a transformation path

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In her first memoir, Skokie-based essayist, memoirist, and writing coach Ellen Blum Barish tells a story of tikkun , the Hebrew word for repair. Although typically thought of in global terms, as in tikkun olam¸ the Jewish concept of repairing the brokenness of the world, Barish applies the concept in a deeply personal way. In graceful, eloquent, yet simple prose, Barish's Seven Springs (Shanti Arts Publishing) invites the reader into her decades-long attempt to lift the lid of silence on a childhood trauma.

An auto accident in middle school, in which she, a friend, and her friend's sister and mother were injured, wounded Barish physically and revealed deep fault lines within her own family relationships. Except for her maternal grandmother, the family addressed young Ellen's trauma with total silence, placing the incident beyond discussion, and even beyond recall.

As a result, Barish lived for years with her own voice, and even her memory, squelched. When a high school reunion brought her face to face with her childhood friend and fellow accident survivor, Barish began her exhaustive quest for truth and resolution. How and why had the accident both crystallized and symbolized the ruptures in her world? How could she excavate the foundations of the silence that had rendered her with, she writes, "a mouth fired shut"?

Awakened and empowered by her growing Jewish knowledge and faith, elements absent in her youth, Barish ultimately finds an emotional and spiritual vocabulary with which to find her voice, recover her memory, and heal the ruptures in her life. 

 


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