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My name is Amy Oestreicher – I am a PTSD specialist, speaker for TEDx, artist, author, Huffington Post contributor, health advocate, actress and playwright. I’m also a survivor and “thriver” of sexual abuse, 27 surgeries, coma, organ failure, six years unable to eat or drink, and the PTSD that came from this ten-year journey. As the granddaughter of holocaust survivors, Judaism has always been a large part of my identity. After trauma, it empowered me with the will to survive.
Inspired by the role of Judaism in my own recovery, I devised a keynote and program, as an artist in residence at New York’s Art Kibbutz, combining Broadway musical theatre, creative storytelling, and leadership skill-building, in order to engage the community with a reinvigorated sense of cultural awareness and spiritual identity. I’ve delivered this keynote to religious groups, schools, temples and international conferences, to cultivate resilience, celebrate our culture, and provide an empowered approach to Judaism. My most popular keynote is “Hope Builds Resilience,” which illuminates the strength and compassion of Judaism as a transformative healing tool for all- presented most recently this January at the annual JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance) Conference at Columbia University in New York.
Broadway Musical Theatre
In addition to speaking, the program can incorporate a one-woman musical comedy, Gutless & Grateful, a poignant story of surviving nearly a decade of medical and emotional trauma with humor, creativity and grit. Through interwoven song and dialogue, I share a primal piece of live-storytelling – a powerful message that it’s possible to overcome physical and mental health obstacles through developing inner resources and reimagining faith. The show also features original material written for me after appearing on NBC’s Today Show.
- You can view professional references, audience testimonials, my CV, learning objectives, program outlines, videos and a comprehensive booking history here.
- Read my writings on spirituality here.
She delivered a moving talk and performance at the JOFA conference, was an amazing contributor in publicizing the event, and I am confident that that her efforts paid off. We are so grateful for the experience, passion, and enthusiasm she brought to us. We were grateful to have had the opportunity for Amy to present with the strength, story and resilience that have moved and empowered the members of our community. – Dr. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance Conference
Judaism and Theatre: Like Bagels and Lox
- Devise your own “Theatre Hagaddah” here
- Devising Jewish/Social Change Solo Performance Through a Universal Narrative here.
- More expressive arts workshops here.
- Finding the healing in humor workshop here.
Spirituality Speaking Topics and Workshops:
- Hope Builds Resilience: A Creative Approach to Faith and Survival Read here
- Make Your Own Meaning: Creating a New Haggadah To Celebrate Our Own New Beginnings Read here
- Post Traumatic Growth in Passover: Cultivating Resilience Through Our Story of Freedom Read here
- Healing from Sexual Assault From a Spiritual Lens Learn more below:
Knowing how difficult it was for me to speak of my own abuse (especially after waking up from a coma months later), I devised a program that combines Broadway theatre with sexual assault awareness and mental health advocacy, in order to empower survivors of assault and to create a more compassionate, open community. I deliver this keynote to support groups, centers, colleges and universities, to promote mental health, provide hope, help, and save lives. My program aims to identify the strength and compassion of Judaism as a transformative healing tool for trauma survivors.
My talk can also be divided into three components:
Part 1) A 70-minute one-woman autobiographical musical – Gutless & Grateful – a comedic yet poignant story on how I survived 27 stomach surgeries, organ failure, and sexual abuse. Through interwoven song and dialogue, I share a primal piece of live-storytelling – a powerful message that it’s possible for survivors become empowered by their own identity and secure in their choices.
Part 2) An educational session/speech where I discuss a compassionate approach to emotional well-being, how to develop a resiliency toolbox, how to cultivate hope, foster understanding, build a supportive community, and be comfortable reaching out to a support system. Individuals will learn tools for coming forward as survivors, as well as visible allies and leaders, guided by Jewish faith, spirituality and principles.
Part 3) A Q&A session to introduce survivors to sexual assault and wellness resources available to them and answer any questions they might have.
The program can also be followed by smaller workshops to continue building confidence and compassion through creative expression.
FIBERS: Oral History, Holocaust Remembrance, Performance
A contemporary play exploring the relationship between history and memory, posing the question, “Who ultimately is responsible for telling the story of the Holocaust, why should we, and how?” FIBERS is based on over 300 pages of oral history interviews I’ve conducted and transcribed from relatives spanning three generations and seven countries, regarding my family’s survival through the Holocaust and journey to America. FIBERS is documentary theatre, fusing monologues curated from 400+ pages of transcribed oral histories and audio recordings, my personal narrative of survival, insights from philosophers, texts and historical archives, and original music in a solo theatre performance exploring how memory is transmitted and communicated after trauma, and what it means to carry on a legacy. Learn more: www.amy
FIBERS as a Three-Component Educational Seminar
- FIBERS – www.amy
oes.com/fibers– is a contemporary play exploring the relationship between history and memory, posing the question, “Who ultimately is responsible for telling the story of the Holocaust, why should we, and how?” FIBERS is based on over 300 pages of oral history interviews I’ve conducted and transcribed from relatives spanning three generations and seven countries, regarding my family’s survival through the Holocaust and journey to America.
- A facilitated talkback, Post Traumatic Gifts, on the culturally relevant themes. This is a talkback/presentation I’ve toured internationally since 2012, and has won seven major awards.
- A question and answer segment to introduce local and national resources. This can also be a hands-on workshop with creative prompts and leadership curriculum to train the next generation of social justice advocates with an empowered sense of faith and civic duty.
For reflections on Judaism and Faith:
- Finding Faith in the ICU for On Being with Krista Tippet
- Waiting for Miracles
- Women of Faith
- My grandparents holocaust and immigration legacy (for GLAMOUR magazine)
- The significant of lost music from the Holocaust (for HowStuffWorks)
- See professional references for the program here.
- Learn about the Gutless & Grateful program here.
-Carole Rubin, Professor at Mercaz Hebrew High School, Bridgeport, CT
Performances for Judaism and Faith
Gutless & Grateful: One Woman Musical:
One bad stomach ache after noshing on a little too much matzah at Passover Dinner changed the course of my life forever. I was your average teenage musical theatre ham, when, two weeks before my senior prom, a blood clot caused my stomach to explode, literally hitting the ceiling of the operating room. After both lungs collapsed, I almost died. When I woke from a coma, months later, doctors told me I had no stomach anymore, I couldn’t eat or drink, and they didn’t know if I’d ever be able to again. Just when you think this is going to be a why me tragedy, I share the secret thriving through 27 surgeries and 6 of the past 10 years unable to eat a morsel of food or drink a drop of liquid: humor! (All in a 70 minute musical comedy!) Learn more at amyoes.com/GUTLESS.
IMPRINTS: Original Full Length Drama:
Because I fell into a coma the night my family’s Passover seder, this holiday has always symbolized redemption and liberation as I healed through a decade of trauma. As I endured six years unable to eat or drink a drop of fluid, the phrase, “Next Year in Jerusalem” took on an entirely new meaning, while my family waited eagerly to celebrate holidays with food and health once again. This was the inspiration behind my original drama, Imprints. The script is loosely based off of a journal my brother kept for the first 72 days I was in a coma, packed with moments of raw emotion as well as endearing humor from a Jewish family who camped out in the ICU together for over a year. Learn more at amyoes.com/imprints.
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