Special to the Journal
“There is no valley so deep and dark but a path leads up from it to the light.” At thirteen Michele Tamaren read Helen Keller’s words and wondered, where is this path and how can we find it? Michele has made it her life’s work to explore these soul questions and more. As she matured Michele asked, how do we discover and honor our uniqueness while serving others? Now she guides seekers to look within for the answers. On the weekend of June 2-4, Michele will co-lead a women’s retreat at The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge with psychotherapist Bette Freedson. “A Woman’s Sacred Journey: Discovering Your Soul’s Wisdom, Purpose, and Path,” is an invitation to explore your true nature, heart’s call, and next steps in life.
Michele’s own journey was inspired by Helen Keller’s gift of seeing light when she herself was blind and deaf. Michele devoted herself to learning about other ways of seeing. As a teen, she volunteered at Oakhill School for the Blind in Hartford and then studied education at The University of Connecticut. With a Masters degree in special education, Michele taught children with a wide array of physical, learning, social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. “These youngsters were my finest teachers, and decades later I still receive messages about their own paths up to the light.”
Awed by those with seemingly insurmountable challenges who lived happy, meaningful lives, Michele studied resilience and self-esteem. Her book, “I Make A Difference: Building Self-Esteem and Sensitivity in the Inclusive Classroom” was published by Academic Therapy Publications. Michele then presented educator and parent workshops throughout the United States and Canada.
In 2000, Michele retired to care for her parents who moved to the Satter House in Revere. She and her husband David relocated from Acton, Massachusetts to Marblehead. Michele’s mother, Betty, died three years later and Herman, her beloved stepfather, soon suffered a serious stroke. Herman rose from darkness and despair, becoming a healer and a teacher in his nineties as his own life was ebbing. She and Herman’s young volunteer, Michael Wittner, co-authored the book, ExtraOrdinary: An End of Life Story Without End, published by Pearlsong Press, 2012. ExtraOrdinary won acclaim from Publishers Weekly and other sources.
An active participant in the North Shore Jewish community, Michele and her husband are members of Congregation Shirat Hayam.
In 2008 Tamaren co-founded the Interfaith Council for Spiritual Connection and its popular series, Make a Joyful Noise. The annual fine arts event held at Shirat Hayam brought together those from every faith tradition to celebrate our shared humanity. Over the course of five years thousands attended. In 2010 Michele received a Leonard P. Zakim Humanitarian Award presented by the Anti-Defamation League and JCCNS for her work in fostering interfaith harmony.