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OHEL’s New Listen for a Change Podcast Series Yields Conversations Never Heard in the Community

Dr. Hindie M. Klein, OHEL Director of Clinical Projects

OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services has launched a new Podcast series of conversations entitled “Listen for a Change: Personal Stories that Strengthen our Community.”

The Listen for a Change podcast concept was inspired by two previous projects. In London, the BBC has a successful radio and podcast program called The Listening Project – which in itself was inspired by the American audio project entitled Story Corps: Sharing and Preserving the Stories of our Lives.

The structure that is followed to create the podcasts are simple. Two people agree to have a conversation about a particular topic. There is no agenda, no rehearsal, no preparation, no special questions provided by us. We just invite them to sit and converse. The conversations are totally spontaneous and unplanned. The individuals who agree to be recorded will not be identified by their real names and will not be seen by the audience since this is an audio presentation. So in essence, individuals are given the opportunity to speak freely and without the fear of being seen, identified or recognized. To date, all those who have participated have noted how unfettering and emotionally cathartic the experience has been.

Listen for a Change is not just about people conversing casually while being recorded. Our goals are more profound. The podcasts provide an opportunity for sensitive and emotionally charged topics to be discussed. Although we know of many issues in the community that require serious and sensitive conversation, more often than not, these topics will be avoided because of stigma or fear of damaging a shidduch opportunity. Podcasts that are presented thoughtfully and anonymously can provide a fascinating window into the rich, dramatic and extraordinary experience of everyday people faced with the most usual—or unusual—challenges of life.

As Derek Saker, OHEL’s Director of Communications and producer of the program conveys, “Our hope is that these very personal but enriching stories, will inspire and fortify individuals and families, and encourage others to share their unique life stories.”

OHEL’s Listen for a Change has already recorded many fascinating conversations.
To cite a few:

• Two twenty-something individuals and friends, Devora and Yonatan, talk about their experience in getting divorced at a very young age. They candidly share their very different experiences both pre and post-divorce, and the paths that led their respective second happy marriages.

• Jason and Mark, both members of a Jewish Gamblers Anonymous group, share a most revealing conversation about their gambling addiction, and on-going battle to confront it. They discuss respectively where it all started, how it can happen to anyone, the impact of gambling on their families, and their respective decisions to finally reach out for professional help

• Chani and Howard, two individuals with mental illness, have a candid discussion about their desire to get married and their experience with the dating process. They speak frankly about the challenges around stigma, while at the same time strongly maintaining that these very challenges have made them individuals with depth and strength.

• Avi and Yitzchak talk about their lives as 2Gs: Second Generation Holocaust Survivors. All 4 of their parents had gone through the War; their mothers at Auschwitz, their fathers at Forced Labor Camps. Their conversation is laced with memories of sorrow and loss, of nightmares and pain, yet also with triumph and hope for a better future.

What do all these individuals have in common?

All have agreed to share their personal stories in the hope that their experiences and journeys through life will provide profound and evocative inspiration to those who listen. As OHEL’s Dr. Hindie Klein, and Clinical Project Director reflects upon, “though for some the conversation can be emotionally draining, the dialogues have been cathartic and liberating at the same time.”

Listen for a Change invites you to sit back and listen. It provides a healthily reversal of what we are most used to doing: talking more and listening less. Listening requires discipline and the commitment to the process of truly listening, processing and absorbing the conversations of others. We have been given only one mouth, but two ears. Perhaps this means we should be exceptionally mindful of listening to others and learning and growing from their experience.

The Podcasts are available on iTunes and at www.ohelfamily.org/podcasts

Do You Have a Story to Share?

Perhaps you would like to share an inspirational story or experience with others in the community. Perhaps you’d like to have a conversation with a particular person and you know that this topic could be helpful—even inspirational---to others. Or perhaps you’d like to share some incredibly happy moments. The opportunities of insightful conversations are endless. This project is about creating a safe and comfortable space for individuals in the community to have the conversation many have always sought to have.

OHEL invites members of the community who wish to consider sharing to contact always wanted to discuss with someone close may you’d just like to celebrate happy moments in your life, or reflect on memories of a dearly departed friend. The opportunities of insightful conversation are endless. This project is about creating a safe and comfortable space for individuals in the community to have the conversation many always sought to have.


Most importantly, come join us at Listen for a Change. Join the many people who will be fascinated, empowered and inspired by the dialogues of others. Contact OHEL’s Listen for a Change Team at listenforachange@ohelfamily.org

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