Episode 27: If I Show You The Real Me Will You Still Love Me? w/Elad Nehorai
In this episode, I speak with Elad about a project that he helped launch called: Neshamas.
What is Neshamas?
“Neshamas was created because of a need we, the creators of Hevria, saw in the Jewish community: to share what’s deep, down in our souls without the added pressure of putting our names behind the work.
For reasons that vary, from communal pressure to internal shame, publicly published pieces about subjects like abuse, conversion, identity, and more can be incredibly intimidating, even dangerous. But the value of sharing our souls, our true selves, is incalculable, and essential to the process of inner growth and acceptance.
And so we created Neshamas, a place where any Jewish person can share their souls absolutely anonymously. In writing, art, or any other form. There will be no judgments here. No determinations of quality of work, or whether you “deserve” to share what your soul is dying to express. You are automatically accepted just by being here, whether you’re a reader, a sharer, or both.
Everyone here is judged as a neshama, in other words. A soul, not a body. Valuable simply for existing. Names do not matter here. Only souls.”
Elad Nehorai has spent most of his adult life creating and nurturing communities. From the time he started a small online arts magazine (before such a thing was common) in college, to his efforts as an online marketer for startups, to his viral campaign “I Have A Therapist,” to his present-day work with Hevria, a community for creative Jews, and Torah Trumps Hate, a community for progressive orthodox Jews, Elad cares about nothing more than connecting people who are desperately looking for a community that doesn’t exist in the physical world.
Elad is also a prolific writer. He is a columnist for the Forward, a blogger, and has been published in places like the Guardian and Haaretz.
Elad’s work has been viewed by over 10 million people, and has been discussed in places like ABC World News, BBC Radio, Mashable, the New York Daily News, Tablet, and the Raising Holy Sparks podcast.
In Japanese, there is a famous proverb that says: “出る釘は打たれる“… “The nail that comes out is struck.”
I began my conversation with Elad by asking him about the balance between suffocating conformity and the necessity for establishing communal norms.
We also discussed one of the most read pieces on Neshamas which is a very vulnerable and radical piece about what it means to stop practicing one of the most observed Orthodox commandments: visiting the mikvah after menstruation. The openness demonstrated by this anonymous writer had such an impact in the Orthodox Jewish world that the article is required reading in courses that train educators of new Jewish brides – what are often called kallah classes.
Yes, mitzvot are important but so is mental health. As it says in Leviticus 18:5 the purpose of religious commandments is so that we may “live by them.” How can we live if we are feeling weighed down by external forces? We must raise our voices to advocate for ourselves, even if we must do it anonymously.
Setting boundaries is not just healthy for “Giving Trees” but it is also important for people in communities when seeking to have some breathing room for themselves.
We concluded our conversation by discussing the transformative power of art. Elad remarks that it is not the final product of art that one created that shows who we are, but rather it is the process of self-discovery and tapping into our sub-conscious that demonstrates what is truly sitting on our hearts.
To see a trailer for a short documentary that Elad produced entitled “Bat Ayin”, click on the video below!
For a resource on how to write/be creative recommended by Elad Nehorai – be sure to check out:
“If You Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland
Thanks for stopping by and please be sure to share this podcast with your friends and family!