New Article by JKS Alumna Merissa Nathan Gerson!


When I started having seizures at the age of 7, no one ever suggested an  exorcism. No one sent me to discuss with a rabbi what was going on inside my  writhing body, or to try incantations, or amulet prayers, or minyan circles, for  the sake of extricating the spirits.

My motor seizure disorder was treated strictly and cleanly by neurology. One  hundred milligrams of Tegretol daily put down the beast, sequestered the  disorder and left me cured, or so my doctors said.

For the next 14 years, until I turned 21, I did not think twice about the  cause of my epilepsy. Top neurologists diagnosed me with paroxysmal kinesigenic  dyskinesia, a rare motor seizure disorder. When I forgot to take my medication I  had strange and embarrassing episodes, triggered by sudden motion or  nervousness: My speech would slur; my arms would swing and writhe, and my body  would shake. These occurrences forced me to reckon with the enormous unknown  that was grinding through my own body.

But the clinical neurological speak of genetic mutation and basal ganglia  misfiring did not satisfy me. I grew curious beyond the scientific. What was I  looking for? At the time I had no idea.

Years later, I learned: to understand my body in the context of the Jewish  people, in the context of my ancestors, of my history and of my connection to  Torah. That was something neurology could not provide. My search to understand  my seizures, to understand my own body, brought me to my family’s history.

It was at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, in  Boulder, Colo., that I began to uncover my story. As part of my education, I had  to meditate and take classes in “contemplative studies.” I took a class on  Jewish mysticism, and I took a course on movement therapy where I began to do  assignments that forced me to move and listen to my body.

Read the full article here!