Tragedy and Triumph

This is the Schneider-Farris Family's Blog. Keep up with what we are doing by logging into this site regularly! (The reason this site is called "Tragedy and Triumph" is that when I first founded this site, my husband, Dan, had been in a horrible accident, and he recovered. His recovery was a miracle! Go back to the 2005 archives to read our story.)

Friday, December 02, 2016

My Brother Billy Meets "The Boss!" - November 29, 2016

My sister-in-law, Amy, wrote the following:

"Billy and "The Boss" - a lifetime dream- and one of the coolest moments in time !❤️"

Pretty AMAZING, huh?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Schneider-Farris Thanksgiving 2016

We had a wonderful relaxing day and nice meal together on November 24, 2016! It was delicious and fun!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Some Videos and Reflections From Shabbat HaNefesh Temple Israel Long Beach 11-11-16

There was a wonderful Shabbat musical service at Temple Israel in Long Beach, California on Friday, November 11, 2016. Cantor Sara Hass and her musical team, including Bill Shafton, cellist Daniel Smith, and percussionist Christo Pellani did an amazing job.

Unfortunately, the complete record of that service did not successfully upload to the synagogue's video archives, but I did take a few videos of the service, so those who read this blog can just get a small glimpse of that memorable evening.

The next morning, a lady named Heather came to the morning Torah study and summed up and shared with the study group how moving the experience was.  Her summary is exactly what was felt by everyone.

Most people came inside filled with heavy hearts and burdens after the recent presidential election, but almost as soon as the service began, something magical happened to everyone!  It was like all worries and burdens were taken away and a tremendous feeling of unity was felt in the temple and everyone knew that G-d was and is in charge!

The service opened with everyone singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and ended with "What the World Needs Now, Is Love Sweet Love!"


On Thursday, November 10, 2016, the following letter was sent to all members of the Temple Israel congregation from Rabbi Steven Moskowitz and Cantor Sara Hass.  I believe that that letter brought many people to what I consider to be a "healing service."

I was so very moved and felt so much love and a sense of community on this particular Shabbat evening.  thank you Cantor Sara Hass for working so hard to help so many with your beautiful voice and incredible energy!

Post-Election Reflection:

Sh'ma Yisrael

At the very heart of Jewish wisdom are words we recite at the morning and evening prayer services and before going to bed: Sh'ma Yisrael, "Listen, Israel." The spiritually powerful dimension of this prayer is not that we merely hear the words of instruction being conveyed but that we acknowledge and experience the presence of the one who is speaking. This encounter is transformative. There is one who cares enough about me to seek to elevate me with a call to love and to ethics. I am taken out of my isolation and embraced in covenantal relationship. It is a relationship that is not just about me or the other. It is about us. We are brought closer, not by our similarity but by the quality of our encounter and commitment. Sacred listening, attentiveness to the presence of the one before us, is a central spiritual practice in Judaism.

This election season has been characterized by a catastrophic lack of sacred listening. In the absence of such heightened and respectful attentiveness, the differences among us have expanded into seemingly unbridgeable chasms. The degree of fear, anxiety, loss, and resentment that has surfaced is palpable. The divisions are real, and they are deep. Our democratic society has the tools necessary for reweaving our frayed social fabric into a new design of the optimism that has always been at the heart of what America represents. Foremost among those are freedom of expression, respect for differences, equality of opportunity, and a readiness to help our neighbor in times of difficulty.

The days and months ahead will provide us all with many opportunities to elevate the practice of attentive listening bequeathed to us by Jewish tradition: where we are indebted to the one before us for the differing insights they bring and where mutual advancement is our goal. Every family exchange, every visit with a friend, every committee meeting here at the synagogue is such an opportunity.

The words from Torah, Sh'ma Yisrael, are written without punctuation. They can be read either as "Hear, O Israel" or as "Hear Israel." In the former, we are the ones doing the listening; in the latter, we are the ones being heard. And that reciprocity is at the very heart of both sacred listening and prayer.

It is with our sincerest hearts that we invite you to join Cantor Hass, Bill Shafton, Christo Pellani, and Daniel Smith tomorrow evening at 6:00 p.m. for Shabbat HaNefesh - a service full of song, prayer, meditation, and the opportunity to come together as a community as we open our hearts and embrace each other.

In closing, we offer you these words from Rabbi Zoe Klein:

When God offered King Solomon anything he wished in I Kings 3:9, King Solomon asked for one thing only: "Give me a listening heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?" He didn't ask for might. He didn't ask for wealth. He didn't even ask for wisdom. He asked for a listening heart.

May the new Leader of the Free World be blessed with a listening heart. 

A heart that listens to the pain of a divided people. A heart that listens for commonalities. A heart that listens to those whose voices are tiny and soft. A heart that listens for the weeping at the margins. A heart that listens to the dreams of the poor, the hopes of the young, and the faint prayer of the dying. A heart that listens to the call of the earth and the haunting song of the sea. A heart that listens past language, dialects and differences to the very pulse of humanity. A heart that listens to the resounding message of history. A heart that listens to the spirits of our ancestors and the hum of the future. A heart that listens to you and listens to me and hears the mysterious harmonies that are so often hidden from us.

May we all be blessed with listening hearts, and step into tomorrow together with a commitment to hear one another. To receive each other's presence with hearts that are open and compassionate. With hearts that listen to one another's fears. With hearts that listen to one another's devotion. With hearts that listen to one another's achievements. With hearts that listen to one another's disappointments. With hearts that listen to one another's beauty. With hearts that listen to one another's goodness. With hearts that listen to one another's pride. Let us step into tomorrow with our hearts channeling Solomon's gift. With our hearts attuned to one another's precious and unique music, and learn to sing in harmony.

Bless us that we may bless each other.


Rabbi Steven Moskowitz and Cantor Hass

Annabelle Passes the Silver Samba International Dance Test Partnered by Ben Agosto! 11-13-16

Annabelle passed the Silver Samba international ice dance today, 11-13-16, partnered by one of her ice dance coaches Ben Agosto! (Non-skating friends: Ben is the 2006 Olympic Ice Dancing Silver Medalist! - pretty cool, huh?)

Cute Photos of Rebekah

These are very cute photos of my daughter Rebekah that I took at Whole Foods Market in Colorado Springs this afternoon, 11-13-16.  She was all dressed up for an audition for Ballet Society's The Music Man, a community theater production that will take place in June, 2017!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Kayaking With My Childhood Friend Bernadette 11-10-16

Bernadette and I were best friends when I was in 8th and 9th grade at Emerson Junior High in Westwood Village, Los Angeles, California. We reunioned because of Facebook and today, we went kayaking together 11-10-16. Who would have thought that in 1968 that we'd be hanging out together in 2016?!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Visit With My Friend Lisa Opton Cohen 11-8-16

I visited my friend Lisa Opton Cohen today 11/8/16. We haven't seen one another face to face since 1993. She is one of the busiest home school mom's I have ever met! She is a home school mom of 5 boys and 2 foster kids and is AMAZING!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Joel in Stonehenge, United Kingdom! 10-24-16

My son Joel shared this photo today from Stonehenge, United Kingdom! He's have an amazing time in this European Disney On Ice Frozen tour!  He says these rocks have been here for 4,500 years!  Also, he commented that the English countryside is so beautiful and that he feels like he is in Narnia!

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Jo Ann Schneider Farris has participated in skating for most of her life as a competitor, coach, and author.