Update on Tammy Karmel
“I said kiddos, this is fun. This is where Hashem wants me to be. I don’t have to serve him with legs. I can serve him in a chair.”
--Tammy Karmel, 2015
After reading the moving story of Tammy Karmel, a young, vibrant wife and mother who was diagnosed with ALS several years ago, in these pages, a group of Brooklyn and Monsey women, whose lives have been transformed by meeting Tammy, have lauched TKP—the Tammy Karmel Project. Their goal is to give every Jewish wife and mother the very same opportunity.
We are sitting in a friend’s dining room, our eyes glued to the screen. Facing us is a beautiful, vibrant woman, wearing a simple band on her sheitel and a scarf over one shoulder—to hide the tremors in her arms.
There is nothing about her appearance that suggests anything beyond the ordinary speaker addressing a crowd—until you look into her eyes. They are aflame with passion, with conviction, with kinship and understanding.
Tammy gets it.
And then she smiles, that special Tammy smile, and begins to speak.
All at once we are transported to a different world, where up is down and right is left---where our priorities, oft-twisted, suddenly become so obvious, it’s as if we were wearing blindfolds all along.
As Tammy speaks, our eyes fill with tears—tears of emotion for this beautiful queen, trapped in her body by a horrific disease. Yet mostly they are tears of understanding, of joy.
We may have left a battle zone behind in our homes.
Our mother-in-laws might be demanding, our children resentful, our boss disappointed.
But right now we’re in Tammy’s world, where everything makes perfect sense. And as Tammy jokes and banters with the ease of a lifelong friend, drawing us into her life, we are suddenly suffused with understanding.
During the early stage of Tammy’s disease, in an act of remarkable pragmatism and acceptance, Tammy had her shiurim videotaped, so that her family and ‘chasidim’ could continue sharing her journey.
It wasn’t an act of gloom and doom. It was simply an honest assessment of where she was heading. “If one day I get better and don’t need this anymore, we’ll throw it into the ocean,” she often joked.
As Tammy’s condition deteriorated, her close friends in the States have made it their life’s mission to spread Tammy’s shiurim around the world. “This is not about changing Tammy’s life, as much as it is about changing our lives,” said a close friend. “Once you listen to even one of her shiurim, you’re hooked.”
With the help of this dedicated team, the TKP (Tammy Karmel Project) was launched. Dubbed “Climbing Mount Karmel,” Tammy’s Project is dedicated to bringing Tammy’s shiurim to every corner of the globe, with regular showings in Monsey, Brooklyn, the Five Towns, Lakewood, Zurich, Belgium, London, and of course Eretz Yisroel.
These shiurim span the spectrum of Tammy’s favorite topics: Sholom bayis. Emuna. Simcha. Coping skills. Acceptance of Hashem’s will.
Listening to one of Tammy’s shiurim is doing lunch in a café with a frothy latte, white chocolate cheesecake, and a group of childhood friends laughing across the table. Dangerously addictive.
Tammy’s shiurim aren’t just inspiring and thought-provoking. They’re a fun-filled journey into one of the most distant places to traverse—those few inches between the head and the heart.
At a recent TKP event, held at midday in the Loft, over 100 women gathered to learn about Tammy, and how her shiurim have impacted so many lives. The upscale event, which included a soul-stirring song composed for Tammy, and a powerful demo of the shiurim, was a watershed moment.
“Tammy awakens your dormant goals and somehow injects you with a new spirit of confidence that you could do it, and do it happily,” one TKP member shared, “I can describe myself as my pre-Tammy self and my post-Tammy self--- and it's just not the same."
Wherever you’re holding on your journey, she facilitates your growth as she gently helps you translate Hashem- centered ideas into physical reality.
Time and again, her many attendees are compelled to share what they learned with family and friends, as Tammy has become a household name all over the world.
Tammy's shiurim speak to you in your own vernacular, lovingly re-familiarizing you with your idealistic, younger self that strove to grow before real life kicked in.
-C. B. Weinfeld
Published in Ami magazine February 2, 2016
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