An Interview With Chani Getter
Today, at the age of 34, Chani is a leader in the fields of personal growth and spiritual development. She has led informational and support groups in parenting, single-motherhood, domestic violence, cross-cultural integration, issues of sexuality and identity. Click here to visit Chani’s website.
Your personal journey is an inspirational story. How did you survive?
1) Tremendous belief and love in God. 2) A great therapist. 3) Strong willpower.
How does it feel to forsake a loving warm tight knit community for the big world?
I found warm people – great communities and although not one of them can take the place of what I had, I have come to learn that being a part of the few that speak to my heart create a community that works for me.
How did you become a professional psychologist?
I am not a psychologist, nor do I want to be – although it is an honorable profession. I am a Life Coach – which is a little different. And I am studying to become a Rabbi.
I took classes at night and woke up every day at 4:00am to study from 4:00 – 6:00am – It took me a while but I got my bachelors. then I went to the New York Open Center on Sundays and got my Coaching Degree, and now I am very slowly taking courses to become a Rabbi.
So many who leave their communities feel discouraged or broken. How did you overcome so much negativity?
Again, I loved myself a lot – and I knew that I wanted to give my children a good mother and so I behaved accordingly, but mostly I think it is because I carry Spirit (Hashem) inside of me, and I had a good therapist.
Are you happier now than when you were part of the Hasidic community?
Yes – I am also a lot older – so the question is really am I glad I made the decisions I made since I was 23 – and the answer is yes, every decision brought me to where I am – and I am grateful for that.
Do you ever think of coming back to the way of life of your parents?
Any regrets? How do you deal with regret?
No – just questions and concerns. Sometimes with regard to the way my children view Chassidim. But I think that has more to do with the very few Chasidim they know, and lump ALL Chassidim in with them, which is sad.
I know that I have a choice and I can always take a step back – so when I do something I don’t like or regret – I don’t do it again. It is that simple. Nothing is written in stone, and so if I regret something, I own it, say to myself – hey Chani you don’t really like this and then I stop doing it or don’t do it again.
What can be done about bitterness and anger?
The only way to get over pain and hurt is to go through it. To walk with someone who cares. A therapist or coach or a trusted someone. To allow oneself to be in the pain, to work through it. It may take weeks, months and sometimes a year or two – but it can be worked through if you allow yourself to fully feel it, to experience it, and to allow someone to witness you in it.
For those who feel they don’t fit in, due to choice or circumstance, can you offer some peace?
You are perfect just the way you are. Every person looks different, smells different, acts different. This is because we are MEANT to be different. Cherish who you are, that there was no one like you here in the world yet, and there never will be, you have a mission in this world, and no one can do it but you. So enjoy your uniqueness.
As parents we sacrifice our own way of life for our kids. Sometimes we feel we don’t do enough. How do you as a parent feel about this?
Being a parent is the most difficult task in the world and it does not come with a handbook. So we all try and we all fail sometimes. Try to be consistent, that is what the kids need. Try to really listen to them when they speak, and give them permission to be who they were meant to be in the world. Parenting is a balancing act.
A human must have friendships. But life for Hasidim may be lonely when they try to get out of their Hasidic society. How do you recommend they fit in?
Take English classes – look around at what people are wearing and figure out your style – it will take time. Know that it takes time and be patient with the process.
There is a greater hurt when you are around people and you feel lonely then when you are in your own presence and are alone.
Faith plays a integral role in Hasidic life. A lot of us, once we leave our upbringing, may throw the baby out with the bath water. What can you say as a motivation to maintaining a sense of faith?
Just because the way Judaism and God was presented to you and it didn’t work, doesn’t mean that you can’t take God and figure out what He / She / It is for you and how you can connect to the vastness of the Universe and the Spirit that lays underneath it.
As Hasidim, we may hide our true identities, but sometimes we cannot hold back and we stand out, suffering the shunning of the community. Is that a good thing?
Every person needs to answer this for themselves. It is an individual struggle. For me – I need to be who I am – and I just live my life. Not pointing fingers at anyone – just grateful for who I am and who I continue to becoming.
Some Hasidim who are hurting fall into drugs, sex and alcohol to silence our pain, rather than seek out professional help due to shame or lack of money. What can you say to stop this destructive cycle?
If you are drinking and or using drugs then the best thing for you is to go to a 12 step meeting either AA or NA which stand for Alcholics Anonymous – and for $1 a meeting you can get a lot of help. With regard to therapy – their are organizations that you can help you – they have clinics that take insurance and/or $25 per session and you can find some really good people working there.
The reason people stop therapy or don’t continue is usually not because it doesn’t work but because it does – and they will need to change if they continue on this cycle. It is terrifying to change – it is threatening and it takes courage. My motivation for you is that others have done it and you can to. You have to figure out who God is for YOU – what SIN is for you and become your own person – otherwise you will continue to be in pain and hurt yourself as well as those around you. It does not help anyone. Not your children, your wife or your family! If you don’t do it for yourself – do it for them.Printable Version