I’D LIKE TO SHARE PART OF MY STORY WITH YOU.

My given name is Isaac, but please feel free to call me Zooky.

It’s the name friends and family called me growing up.

In 1972, I was born in Brooklyn, New York, after my parents came to the United States from Beirut, Lebanon. I grew up in an Arabic-speaking, traditional Jewish Orthodox home and community. I lived my young life steeped deeply in my culture, one of respect and tradition. The family was everything.

THE BEGINNING

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There are moments in each of our lives that we carry for the rest of our lives. They create a lens through which we view and even respond to the world. 

In a shaming moment when I was seven years old, a grown man took advantage of my innocence and molested me. Like many victims of abuse, I held some feelings of responsibility. Unfortunately, this life moment would be the first of many times someone would take advantage of me and a catalyst for a series of downward spiraling life moments. 

A pivotal moment of pain

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Flash-forward to my early adolescence. I attended one school, but as my parents’ means rose, they wanted to move my schooling to a more affluent private school. I was different, which made me a target. 

I brought my middle eastern food to school. Not having many school clothes, the hem of my pants rode higher than what was fashionably acceptable to my peers. From several students, I was the target of frequent rude comments meant to shame me. After some time, something rose inside of me. I was tired of taking it, and I decided to use physical fighting to attain achievement and put myself on top. 

Around this time, my mother started a company in the fashion industry. She experienced tremendous and rather sudden success. I emerged with a new persona and ego that fed off of getting attention through her achievements. I now had the right clothes and a new attitude. Unfortunately, my newfound identity would get me kicked out of three high schools. But eventually, I moved forward and began taking college classes. I also took a job where I excelled at sales and was paid quite well. I purchased a used sports car, and I became very popular with the ladies and had friends. Things started to turn around for me and were going well. 

Word came to me that my mother’s business needed help. The family needed me. I left my successful sales position to work for the family business. It was always family first. My mother’s brother, my uncle, who wasn’t much older than me and drove fast cars and had beautiful girlfriends, had been somewhat of an idol. He would be my boss. 

Tossing a couple of hundred dollars at me one day after I had started, when I had been making thousands at the job I left, I wasn’t sure what I’d gotten myself into. He let me know, “Your mother really pitied you. That’s why she got you out of there.” 

My family had pulled me into the business out of pity or thinking they were somehow saving me. But, unfortunately, the friction between my uncle and I would lead into years of a toxic relationship with him in authority over me that left me feeling alone, worthless, and weak. I eventually left the family business, but the pain deepened with collapses of business ventures that I braved in the time following my departure.

Alcohol, drugs. party, work, fail. It was a cycle that would repeat for years. 

I’d be pulled back into family business affairs with my uncle once again. Then, one day, while I was riding high from an accomplishment that was all mine and even received recognition for it from another company, the unthinkable happened. My uncle dismissed my position. Just like that. I was insignificant once again. I was that exposed boy of seven inside a man’s body, taken advantage of over the years by someone I was to trust.

Life had finally broken me. I was never so low. 

THE HIGH LIFE

There are moments in each of our lives that we carry for the rest of our lives. They create a lens through which we view and even respond to the world. 

When I was seven years old, a grown man took advantage of my innocence and molested me. In a shaming moment, he had me unclothe myself, and he did the same. Like many victims of abuse, I held some feelings of responsibility. Unfortunately, this life moment would be the first of many times someone would take advantage of me and a catalyst for a series of downward spiraling life moments. 

A pivotal moment of pain

keep reading

Flash-forward to my early adolescence. I attended one school, but as my parents’ means rose, they wanted to move my schooling to a more affluent private school. I was different, which made me a target. 

I brought my middle eastern food to school. Not having many school clothes, the hem of my pants rode higher than what was fashionably acceptable to my peers. From several students, I was the target of frequent rude comments meant to shame me. After some time, something rose inside of me. I was tired of taking it, and I decided to use physical fighting to attain achievement and put myself on top. 

The high life

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Then a divine interruption became my divine intervention.

I was married with two kids and one on the way, where my story began to take a turn. On the invitation of friends and the urging of my wife, I took a spiritual excursion to Israel. A Rabbi I met, Yitzhak, and I would become friends, and he would share with me the lack of resources in Israel for high-risk young men. So, in 2007, we started Beit Hashem (translates to God’s home) to provide young men with spiritual guidance, education, and a safe home to lead them towards productive and meaningful lives. It was here where my coaching began. I traveled to Israel several times a year to coach the teens, but I was really coaching myself. Pouring into others poured back into me. Shifting my heart to serving young men in crisis began the healing of the brokenness within myself. 

I began releasing the thoughts that I had permitted people to abuse me for years. Piece by piece, through the next several years, I’d pick up the parts of me I’d lost along the way of life, restore parts of my marriage I didn’t even know were broken, and forgive my family. I had to look at the little hurt boy inside myself and even forgive him too. It wasn’t his fault, and he deserved no more blame. Armed with a purpose that burned deep within me and discovering the spiritual gifts of empathy and connectivity that illuminated within me as the fog of the past lifted, I knew I wanted to be a coach- a helper, guide, and encourager of others to live in the joy of fulfilling relationships and passionate purpose. 

From Achievement to Fulfillment

There are moments in each of our lives that we carry for the rest of our lives. They create a lens through which we view and even respond to the world. 

When I was seven years old, a grown man took advantage of my innocence and molested me. In a shaming moment, he had me unclothe myself, and he did the same. Like many victims of abuse, I held some feelings of responsibility. Unfortunately, this life moment would be the first of many times someone would take advantage of me and a catalyst for a series of downward spiraling life moments. 

A pivotal moment of pain

keep reading

Flash-forward to my early adolescence. I attended one school, but as my parents’ means rose, they wanted to move my schooling to a more affluent private school. I was different, which made me a target. 

I brought my middle eastern food to school. Not having many school clothes, the hem of my pants rode higher than what was fashionably acceptable to my peers. From several students, I was the target of frequent rude comments meant to shame me. After some time, something rose inside of me. I was tired of taking it, and I decided to use physical fighting to attain achievement and put myself on top. 

The high life

keep reading