Woman of Few Words: My Creative Journey With Dystonia

08 Jan 2024
Retiree Programs

Woman of Few Words: An Interview with Cheri Tannenbaum

Please join us for a pre-recorded interview with Rebbetzin Judi Steinig and Cheri Tannenbaum, author of Woman of Few Words, as Cheri describes her life journey through Dystonia and how she has coped with this disorder.

Cheryl (Cheri) Tannenbaum was born in Alberta, Canada, and spent her teen years in the sixties as a fun-loving, gregarious flower child doing yoga. As she reached young adulthood, Cheri sought answers to the bigger questions of life. Delving into her Jewish roots, she found answers. During a year spent at Stern College in New York immersing herself in Jewish learning, she began experiencing bizarre, debilitating symptoms, which progressed until she found herself unable to speak or to walk normally. Thus began her two-year journey to a proper diagnosis, ultimately identified as the movement disorder dystonia musculorum deformans. Having no choice in the matter, Cheri went on with her life. She fell in love, married, obtained a bachelor s degree in psychology from UCLA and a master’s degree in human development from Pacific Oaks College, had three miracle children, pursued her eclectic artistic talents, learned to play the harp, became a grandmother, and along the way learned how to live, love, cry, and overcome with a serious disability. Today Cheri lives in Efrat, Israel with her husband Harvey.

SPECIAL NOTE FROM CHERI TANNENBAUM:  This program was pre-recoded prior to October 7, so there is no mention of anything that is happening in Israel because of the current Matzav.

To update our viewers on my family, my younger daughter. son-in-law and three children went to Cleveland on shlichut in August 2023.  After October 7, my son-in-law got called in by the IDF, and he returned to guarding the Lebanonese border, which he did for 6 weeks. All I could think about was how his wife and children were coping without him, and how his newborn didn’t know what her father’s touch was. He finally was able to return to Cleveland, but it was only for a week and a half! I thought to myself, he is part of the miluim (army reserves), and he is also an out -of-town shaliach.  He could have prioritized to stay with his family and do his shlichut work, but his dedication to his country came first, and he went back to the Lebanonese border. It is not an easy decision, but if everyone prioritized their family over fighting for our country, there would be no soldiers and no protection.

My son, Simcha, is a Rav on a paratrooper base. He is in charge of the spiritual religious aspects of the soldiers and provides them with tefillin and tzizit.  He makes sure there is an eruv and a Sefer Torah in the shetach and a myriad of other duties. He gives chizzuk to the soldiers who are going in and to the soldiers who are leaving as well as a shoulder to cry and lean on.

This is our life now.  We sometimes get sirens. Our safe room is in our apartment in Efrat. My older daughter, son-in-law  and their 6 children and a dog run from upstairs to our safe room downstairs.  Usually, 3 of them are crying hysterically and we all try to stay calm and soothe them.  Despite all that is happening, I am home. Israel is my country, and I have no doubt that Israel will prevail like it is has always done.   Am Yisrael Chai!