Dispelling stereotypes, exerting independence
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Despite sporadic learning, Levy obtained her bachelor’s degree in French literature at Yeshiva University in New York City and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Columbia. “As a child, going in and out of hospitals, we did have hospital instruction but it was solitary,” Levy said. “One thing I enjoy today is studying on the phone with someone from Pennsylvania once a week,” Levy said. “We discuss Jewish topics.”
She has spent most of her life in her wheelchair. “When I’m in mine, I feel liberated,” Levy said. “My arms are too weak to propel a non-motorized wheelchair. I can type a little bit. I hold my right wrist with my left hand to position for typing.”
Others try to refer to Levy herself as just a wheelchair, which Levy says limits her. “One time, as I was leaving an event at Carnegie Hall, this man said about me, ‘Let the wheelchair pass,’” Levy said. “I said to him, ‘You mean, the lady in the wheelchair.’ When he responded with, ‘Well, you’re a part of it,’ I responded with, ‘No, my wheelchair is a part of me.’”
Laurie Adler met Levy in 2002 and knows that her close friend is much more than just a person in a wheelchair. “She is a natural storyteller as hundreds of people have laughed and learned around her dining room table,” Adler said. “Chavi has exposed me to great musicians and authors, and has a deep understanding of what makes for great art. She brings this sense of precision and sense of wonder into her writing.”
To purchase Levy’s book, go to http://www.amazon.com/Life-Standing-Chava-Willig-Levy/dp/1492814954.