Guided To Share
Recently a U.S. based Jewish publication approached me to do an article for the High Holiday Edition. After the journalist completed the article, as fate would have it, the author was told it would no longer be included. My guidance was to pass this along anyway, sharing this thoughtful article with my audience. L’shana Tova!
In 1997, when she was a student at the University of Florida, Rebecca Rosen found herself in a very dark place.
The young Jewish woman was suffering from a serious sleep-eating disorder and went into a deep depression. That worried her greatly, she says, because she was well aware that chronic depression ran in her family, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
She decided to fight back, signing up for therapy and taking prescribed medications, both of which helped, but not enough.
Finally, in desperation, she opted to pray, choosing the ancient Jewish prayer, the Sh’ma, which her father had taught her in the fifth grade.
“I was crying for help,” she says, “because I was so desperate and confused.”
Not long after that, her prayers were answered. On an “unremarkable” day, while she was in a bookshop, preparing to write in her personal journal, the response to her plea came in words that entered her mind without warning, Rosen says.
She “heard” them in a non-auditory way, and transcribed them in her journal. “Energy in your own mind’s voice” is how she describes it.
Somehow, she knew that it was her grandmother, whom everyone called “Babe,” who was communicating with her.
“She was saying, ‘I’m here to help you so you don’t go down the dark road of depression that’s our family legacy,’” and asked her granddaughter for her permission to help
Rosen granted that permission, knowing full well that her Grandmother Babe had passed away years before – by her own hand -- compelled by the hereditary curse of depression.
It was the moment, Rosen believes, when her “gift” was bestowed upon her.
More than two decades later, in her sunny and spacious office suite in Cherry Creek, Rosen reflects on her first encounter with a spirit from beyond the grave.
There have been a great many such encounters since then. Rosen has become a successful and widely recognized medium, helping troubled people by offering herself as a conduit between them and their deceased loved ones. She performs this service on an individual basis, through group gatherings, as the author of several books and through a large selection of presentations through audio, video and other media.
She has become something of a celebrity in the process, having appeared on such national venues as the Dr. Oz Show, E! News Specials, Fox & Friends, Dr. Phil, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Nightline and the Rachael Ray Show.
In person, Rosen displays none of the mystical or eerie traits one might expect a practicing medium to possess. Instead, she is cheery, down-to-earth, modest but fearlessly open and very enthusiastic about the unusual work she does.
A Denverite for the past 14 years, Rosen was born and raised in Omaha and settled in Michigan after college. She began her career as a medium there and later, after her marriage, brought it to Denver.
“We were raised as Conservative Jews,” she says. “My father and his family took it seriously. I had the typical Jewish education. I went to Hebrew school, had a Bat Mitzvah, belonged to BBYO, went to Israel with Birthright with all my friends. Judaism was definitely part of my upbringing.”
Although she sees herself as “more spiritual than religious,” Rosen says her morals and values are distinctly Jewish and come directly from her family. Her mother, Jan Goldstein, was director of missions for the Jewish federation in Omaha and later became executive director of the federation. Her brother, Baruch HaLevi, was until fairly recently a Conservative rabbi.
The Jewish home in which she was raised, Rosen says, was not the kind of place where the paranormal was part of the routine conversation. That might explain, she offers, why she was less than willing to accept the fact when her grandmother’s spirit first made contact with her.
“Nobody in my family had the gift,” she says. “So I thought I was making it up, right?”
But her grandmother insisted on offering Rosen details that she had no way of knowing herself – in this case, the manner in which her son found her body after her suicide -- as a means of offering evidence that she was precisely who she claimed to be.
Since that first encounter, Rosen has followed suit in her own work, requesting such precise information from spirits and offering it to her clients to help them overcome their very natural skepticism, much as she had to do herself at the beginning.
“I had to overcome every type of skepticism, judgment, people saying I was crazy. It was like someone coming out saying they’re gay. Twenty-some years ago, this was not well embraced or talked about.”
But that’s changing, Rosen says.
While there remain many people who simply, and absolutely, refuse to believe in the work she does, “what I’m finding is that more and more everyday people are open. They may not believe, and that’s OK. I always say it’s healthy to be skeptical; I was too, in the beginning.
“But they’re open.”
Becoming a fluent and effective medium was not an easy process, Rosen emphasizes. She did lots of research, visiting the New Age sections of many book stores and reading a great many of the books she found.
One of them, Does The Soul Survive? by Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz, had a particularly huge influence on her and helped her formulate her own idea of the afterlife and spirit realm and how the souls who have pass on can help those still in the physical world.
“The spirits are in a good place,” she says. “They have the awareness that everything is going to be OK; everything is OK. It’s the living who struggle. The spirits who recognize the living loved ones who are having a hard time are usually the ones who come through.
“The only preparation I do is prayer and meditation. I basically get my ego out of the way. I put my agenda on a shelf and ask to be a pure channel.”
When she does a reading, either with an individual or in a group setting, Rosen says she spirits are present, responding to pleas from their living loved ones. The spirits communicate through her, using various means of getting their messages across.
“It’s sometimes like playing a game of charades, trying to figure out, in my language, what they’re saying. They’re not bodies and they don’t have voices.”
Rosen has had to learn, and gradually to master, a series of exercises she refers to as “the clairs.”
“Clairvoyance is when we see things in our mind’s eye, or our dreams or meditation. Clairaudience is when spirits or guides are impressing your mind with dialogue. Sometimes it involves hearing music or outside voices. Clairsentience is when you get the chills or when out of the blue you start to feel a very strong emotion. And claircognizance is when, out of the blue, you just know something. You know what someone is about; you know how something is going to play out, but there’s no logical explanation for why.”
She gives a vivid illustration of what it’s like to be her in the middle of a reading.
“I’m on a stage and I have 400 people in the room. I have thousands of spirits and one spirit is trying to impress me amidst all of them, trying to get a message at the same time, and then you multiply it with all these spirits. It’s like having dozens of toddlers all pulling on you and wanting your attention at the same time. You have to learn how to manage this energy and then be able to slow it down enough to read it. I have to tell them, ‘Calm down, line up, work with me here.’”
She smiles when reminded of cinematic or fictional portrayals of spiritualism – think “The Sixth Sense” “Ghost” -- but says many such familiar tropes have a basis in fact.
“There are shreds of truth in all of it,” she says. “In my day-to-day world, no, I don’t have the sixth sense reality, thank G-d, because I probably wouldn’t be doing this if I did. But that is true for some people who work with this. We all work with this on different levels and in different ways.”
In some ways, actually communicating with the dead is considerably simpler than how Hollywood portrays it. For example, she doesn’t need to touch clients, or their possessions, in order to make a breakthrough to the spirit world.
“I really need nothing,” Rosen says. “All I need is someone to show up with an open mind and an open heart. That’s it.”
Rosen’s take on the spirit realm in many ways seems more Eastern than Western – or Jewish.
Like Hindus, she fully believes in reincarnation and the transmigration of souls with an “ultimate destination” that in some ways suggests a nexus, or reunion, with G-d.
“The goal of our soul is to become a brighter light,” she says. “The way we do that is by balancing out our karma and learning our lessons and serving others.”
Still, Judaism, as her personal faith background, plays a major role in everything she does. She has incorporated her knowledge of Kabbalah into her work and uses the values of Judaism, the middot, as her moral compass, even if her beliefs don’t line up with the highly varied, and sometimes quite vague, traditional Jewish views of life after death.
Jews of all persuasions, including the Orthodox, have been among her clients, as are Christians, Muslims, New Agers and even atheists. In Denver, Rosen has done readings for Temple Sinai and Jewish women’s organizations. On Oct. 24, she will do a “Connect with Spirit” group reading at Feldman Mortuary.
The response of the Jewish community to her work has been mostly positive, Rosen reports.
“Of course, there are those in this community who aren’t comfortable with it and that’s fine. But for the most part, I have really connected to Jews, especially those who are into the kabbalistic piece, which makes complete sense. For the most part I have felt a nice receptivity.”
She is aware that the Torah strictly prohibits sorcery, witchcraft and necromancy – communication with the dead – and calls for strict punishment for those who practice such arts, but doesn’t feel such restrictions apply to anything she does.
Rosen cites a paper written by her rabbi brother on the subject, which concluded that ancient Jewish prohibitions against necromancy associated that practice with other forbidden dark arts and don’t apply to the work of modern mediums.
Besides, she adds, her motives should be taken into consideration.
“I’m not going and fishing in the sea of the dead,” she says.
“They are coming to me. I’m just listening. And people come to me. I don’t chase people down. Everything comes to me organically and I embrace it if it feels right. My intention has always been that if it’s helpful, healing and enlightening, I’m going to use it for good. It changes lives.”
Not surprisingly, there are negatives associated with the kind of work that Rosen does, but she approaches these with the same fearlessness that marks her entire approach to the supernatural.
She almost always refers to spirits as positive forces, noting that individuals gain wisdom, perspective and a measure of peace after they die. She frequently cites her own grandmother, who, she says, “in life was not very warm and fuzzy,” but as a spirit was “kind and patient” with her.
But not all spirits achieve such transcendence, Rosen acknowledges.
“The bottom line is you pick up where you leave off. We all make mistakes, and that’s OK, but if your intentions were pure, to try to do better, if your intentions were loving and kind and generous, you have nothing to worry about. You’re going to go to the place that you’ve earned.
“If you were a troubled soul, you might get stuck. But at some point, every soul – even if you’re stuck between worlds, in a darker, lower vibrational place – the minute you decide you want help, all you do is invite it in. Your guides, your angels, come to you and will help you.”
Rosen works only with souls that are “happily crossed over,” she says.
“I don’t work with troubled or lost souls. There’s dark energy out there. I take a lot of measures to protect my energy, to clear it. I’m a bright light doing G-d’s work and this dark energy sometimes sees that and tries to take it down.”
While she has a healthy respect for such dark energy, she elaborates, “there’s nothing to be afraid of. The minute you flip the light switch the lights go on and the dark goes away.”
Again, Rosen says, it all comes back to the medium’s intentions.
“My biggest thing is what and why – what am I doing and why am I doing it? My why is because I recognize that this was G-d calling me, this was my soul’s purpose and I surrendered to it.”
While she is no therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist – and, in fact, recommends that troubled people seriously consider consulting such professionals – Rosen feels she can also play an important role in healing.
“One session can be like 10 years of therapy if we can hit the nail on the head and get straight to the root issue,” she says of her work as a medium.
“This is one piece of the puzzle. It’s a spiritual angle to help people see through a different lens.”