Our Spiritual Journey
When this writer heard about L.A.-based artist and master calligrapher Rae Shagalov’s “Five-Day Creative Torah Journaling Challenge,” I signed up right away. Following publication of her book Create Your Joyfully Jewish Life: A 30 Day Step-By-Step Workshop and Creative Journal (Volume 1) in February, Shagalov extended her creative and meditative insights into a week of joyful soul-examination.
Published by Holy Sparks, Shagalov’s publishing company, the book debuts a projected 20-volume series. This unique volume, she explains, “combines Torah wisdom, calligraphy Artnotes, coloring pages, meditations, and creative journal prompts to help Jews discover and fulfill their unique mission, deepen their Jewish practice, and organize their lives to accomplish it all the Joyfully Jewish way.”
She adds, “Create Your Joyfully Jewish Life has lots of interesting angles because so many people find it hard to be happy to be Jewish.” Shagalov also turned the book into an online course in her Joyfully Jewish online school.
Like all her books, Creative Your Joyfully Jewish Life gives the reader practical, yet fun, steps for living a life of authentic Jewish spirituality. “Although each creative lesson in the Creative Torah Journaling course is different,” Shagalov points out, “the common thread is to help Jewish women feel inspired, creative, and happy every day to fulfill their personal mission—with lots of tools to help them overcome their worries and challenges, based on Torah.” Each day of the course included a relaxing, faith- and trust-building guided meditation, and bonus items to download and print, such as Shagalov’s calligraphic “Artnotes,” coloring pages, and Torah inspiration templates. To increase awareness of the benefits of creativity, she also sent an art tutorial in hand-lettering or sketching.
Day One of the five-day Creative Torah Journaling Challenge had participants choose and illustrate a word from Scriptures that resonated with us. Taught by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi in the Tanya,this form of intellectual meditation, called Hisbonenus, involves “contemplating, learning, mastering and integrating a pasuk,” Shagalov explains.
Days Two and Three concentrated on identifying and tracking unwanted habits, while Day Four focused on establishing borders and boundaries in one’s life. Day Five had us look deep into our souls, and search for our life’s meaning.
“So many women are so busy taking care of everyone else,” Shagalov says, “but their own inner spark is getting lost or moved aside. They feel depleted. Sometimes they feel like they’ve lost themselves and are frustrated and feel creatively unfulfilled.”
Since July 31 of this year, Shagalov has followed up the Creative Torah Challenge with a six-week Creative Torah Journaling course.
After learning calligraphy around 30 years ago, Shagalov began honing her craft by taking calligraphic Torah notes at the feet of Torah giants such as Rabbi Avrohom Twerski, Rabbi Elchonon Tauber, Rebbetzin Esther Yungreis, and Rabbi Reuven Wolf. Shagalov eventually massed over 3000 pages of decorative notes, or Artnotes, filled with Torah wisdom. These form the basis of her books.
Shagalov recognizes how her own journey to Judaism has helped her to discover ways to help others. “I made the best decision I ever made in my life when I began to explore my Jewish heritage from the inside,” she says. “I always felt that there is a spiritual solution to every problem.”
Her encouragement of creativity extends to kids, too. Part Two of her Kosher Comics series, Kosher Comics for Girls, which she creates with the help of Emek students, came out in December of last year.
One can purchase Rae Shagalov’s books at www.amazon.com and www.holysparks.com, where one can also sign up for free art and soul tips. “Like” Shagalov’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/soultips, for daily inspiration. For more inspiration, the artist and writer also has a Twitter account: www.twitter/holysparks.