By Manya Goldstein
Eight years ago, I landed in Israel for the first time and spent a phenomenal summer connecting to my heritage and giving back to the land on NCSY GIVE (Girls Israel Volunteer Experience), a Jewish youth group program. I am eternally grateful to NCSY for giving me such a special inaugural Israel experience. Toward the end of the program, we each had the opportunity to purchase something from Hadaya, an engraved jewelry line popular in the seminary world. I knew long before I left Florida what I wanted my ring to say: Gam Zu Letovah, a famous Jewish expression that literally means, “This too is for the good,” and is commonly translated as, “Everything happens for a reason.”
I don’t know why Gam Zu Letovah always resonated with me. Some things don’t have a rational explanation. They simply speak to us on a soul level, a level that knows us better than we know ourselves—and that knows what strength we will need in the future.
Fast forward four years later. I had just started college at Rutgers University when I was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), an autonomic nervous system disorder with debilitating symptoms ranging from pre-fainting spells to extreme dizziness, fatigue, gastrointestinal pain, brain fog, insomnia…and the list goes on. POTS made everyday tasks excruciatingly challenging, and I found myself repeatedly looking down at my silver Hadaya ring—Gam Zu Letovah engraved in large Hebrew letters—and hoping, praying, that the words were true.
Fast forward another five years and I know without a shadow of a doubt that the words I carried on my finger throughout my health journey are the absolute truth. POTS completely changed who I am as an individual, transforming me into an infinitely more self-aware, compassionate and growth-oriented version of my former self. That alone would have been enough, but POTS also introduced me to an entirely new universe of knowledge.
After the conventional treatments failed, I turned to the world of holistic medicine and became enthralled by the connection of food and lifestyle to disease. I also learned about neuroplasticity, the ability of our brains to rewire themselves, and how we can play an active role in the process. Most recently, I discovered the power of our subconscious beliefs and how we can rewrite the software of our minds to create enormous changes in our lives. (I am a certified PSYCH-K facilitator if anyone is interested in trying it out!) I am beyond grateful for the entire journey—the good, the bad and the ugly—because it brought me to where I am today. Gam Zu Letovah, indeed.
Last summer, I returned to Israel for the first time since NCSY GIVE eight years ago. What began as a three-week trip turned into an unforgettable year-long adventure. I lived in Jerusalem and experienced real Israeli society while teaching English to rambunctious Israeli boys. I had to return home early due to COVID-19, but I first made sure to visit Hadaya in the Old City. I felt like my life journey warranted a new ring, and I left with the inscription, “I cried out to you and you healed me” (Tehillim 30). The words ring true for my health journey, and I pray they ring even louder for our current global pandemic. May we all experience complete healing in body, mind and soul—together with the entire world.
Manya Goldstein, originally from Jacksonville, FL, is a health journalist who graduated from Rutgers University in 2019 and spent the past year teaching English in Jerusalem on the Masa Israel Teaching Fellowship.