BCC member, Bracha Yael Cheng, named as one of the menschen of the year by the Jewish Journal!

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BCC member, Bracha Yael was included in the L.A.’s 2008 Top Ten Mensches list, the Jewish Journal’s annual salute to big-hearted Angelenos.

This makes two years in a row that a member of BCC has been so honored — Allison Diamant was recognized as a mensch last year.  Congratulations, Bracha!  BCC is blessed to have you as a member of our community.

Bracha Yael was the vice president of a construction company, a triathlete and getting her master’s in religion. She was on the board of the Los Angeles Hillel Foundation and Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim (BCC).

Then one afternoon in 1997, she started to feel dizzy and tired. She lay down. And she couldn’t get up — for about two years.

Yael, 40 at the time, was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome, a condition that left her dizzy, nauseous and without enough energy to sit up for more than five minutes at a time.

After about two years, she and her doctors began to get a handle on her symptoms, and she got to a point where she could function for a few hours a day. She hoped to resume some semblance of her former life — maybe work part time, exercise a little. But every time she pushed too hard, she would set herself back weeks.

The realization that her life would be radically and permanently different was a traumatic blow to Yael, even more shocking than her initial diagnosis.

“Rabbi Lisa Edwards [of BCC] started to talk to me, saying that life is not about doing, it’s about being,” Yael recalls. “I had internalized that identity and self-worth are about what we do, especially about what we do for a living, and that wasn’t there anymore. I had to develop some sort of identity and find meaning in my life that wasn’t connected to what I do.”

Continue reading in the Jewish Journal

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