By Regan Treewater-Lipes
(AJNews) – “I offer you a gateway into your own peacefulness, healing, joy and personhood.” — Hilda Chasia Smith
In these unprecedented times, we could all benefit from some healing and peace. Hilda Chasia Smith, a native of Winnipeg, and long-time resident of Calgary, is the author of a new book that promises just that!
“When I gather poetry, it is universal for healing and love,” explained the accomplished teacher in a recent FaceTime interview. Chasia’s Enchantment is a timely publication of collected guided meditations, poetry, and visual art bringing together the plethora of Smith’s countless talents. She is a teacher, a musician, a painter, a writer, a yoga instructor, and a spiritual healer rooted in the teachings of Jewish thought and tradition.
“Jewish sources teach of the simultaneous importance of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, and Hilda Chasia Smith is the living embodiment of all three,” writes Rabbi Mark Glickman. A staple of the Calgary Jewish community, Smith exudes passion and energy from her core, and radiates this same positivity with great intensity. On February 3, the book will be officially launched via Zoom.
The book itself is small in size but abundant in what it offers readers. “The book is all about working from the inside out,” she offered. “If a poem from the book speaks to you, then do not just read it once, read it as many times as you need to. We all deserve healing, and joy and love” she continued.
“Do you know that some people are afraid of joy, not consciously, but they’re actually afraid to let themselves feel joy, and they inadvertently run from it.”
Smith hopes that her readers will be able to tap into their inner joy and peace through her words. Her offering to the world around her is her attempt to start a ripple effect of positivity.
“The laws of Torah and the understanding of the person who you are — it is completely soul encompassing,” she stated with conviction.
Chasia’s Enchantment takes a holistic spiritual approach of tikkun olam – Smith is doing her part to repair the world. The book “integrates my knowledge and experience on the subjects of Judaism, Kabbalah, yoga, and meditation. These have been a major part of my life as a universal soul; as a multidisciplinary teacher, an artist, and musician.”
The daughter of Holocaust survivors Mendel and Rachel Szternfeld, Smith recalls watching her mother and grandmother lighting Shabbat candles on Friday evenings.
“By candlelight I would watch them reading from the Tkhine, and it was so inspiring. I would feel, and still feel, such gratitude for being a Jewish woman,” she remarked.
Many of her poems draw inspiration from Judaism. In her poem “Torah,” Smith writes: “May that which imbues every heart and soul/ with glorious life keep unfolding.”
Smith explained: “As a child I knew that my family had been murdered in the Holocaust, and I have always felt that I have a duty to bring joy into the world.” For her vessel of joy, Smith opted to use her Hebrew name for the title of the volume, “The title of the book was never a question.” Chasia had been her grandmother’s stepdaughter, whom Smith and her mother never got to meet. Smith’s connection to the name “Chasia” is one that is deep and meaningful.
Her poems are not all connected to her Jewish identity, but also to a philosophy for healthy positive living that she has cultivated for decades. “The whole purpose is to help others relax and bring calmness, self-love, and love for others.”
In a global reality where so many are feeling anxious, isolated, and overwhelmed, stopping to reflect on one of Smith’s guided meditations could be just the thing for settling frayed nerves.
“I breathe, I breathe in love and life and yes, I let go of what does not serve serenity. I trust, I love, I am wholeness […] I breathe out love, creativity, and forgiveness. I breathe in prosperity.”
Mazel tov to Hilda Chasia Smith, whose book will be launched formally on Feb. 3, 2021. For more information visit durvile.com.
Regan Treewater-Lipes is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Alberta Jewish News.