Barry Levine 1947-2015
Friday, December 11, 2015
by: Misha Forrester, GCFP

Section: In Memoriam

Barry Levine was a beloved Feldenkrais® practitioner in our region who unexpectedly and suddenly died just before Thanksgiving this year. He was an Amherst graduate and served as an Assistant Trainer for the Boston Feldenkrais trainings in the 1990s, under Dennis Leri 's educational direction. He was in Deborah Lotus' words, "A practitioner's practitioner." Many people initially learned of his passing from a Feldenkrais Practitioners Around the World Facebook note posted by Angel Di Benedetto on November 23. Many of those in the who knew Barry attended Shiva with Olly and his children that weekend.                                              

Trainer Donna Blank wrote, " this is shocking...and takes me way back to when Barry and I first began to study and do the work together in the late 70's. Life is precious. Barry was so beautifully himself and a wonderful practitioner. The term 'littermate'  (from Amherst) never moved me much. Until now. With Barry's sudden passing, I feel the loss as if it were 35 years ago."

Richard Rodgers, wrote, "Our tears have flowed, a memorial candle lit, our prayers were said for his spirit on its way to the Light, and our prayers also were said for Olly, Gaal, Ittai and all of Barry's loved ones in this time of unexpected sudden loss...In 1984, Yochanan Rywerant taught me something about expectations; that they contain everything but the surprises. I've learned the truth of that one over and over ever since. The surprises that day came (of study group practice and get together) when Barry took his turn to be my teacher. He put me on my left side and worked for about seven minutes, moving my right knee over my left, forward and back, showing me the relationship of my right femur to my pelvis to my spine. What made this memorable was my fascination with the clear steady quality of Barry's touch and the ultra slow speed of his movement. I had only experienced an ultra slow lesson once before, as a trainee. Barry's touch reminded me of Moshe's touch, and of Yochanan's and Gaby Yaron's. Just to name a few of the great practitioners who taught me something important through touch. That's the point I want to share. There's a little bit of kinesthetic Barry-ness in my brain somewhere and this is available to me as part of any FI® or ATM® I choose to teach. I hypothesize that this is possibly true for any of you who ever experienced Barry as their teacher. I think that if you search for his teaching within yourself, you will find it and be able to integrate it into your own set of kinesthetic knowing. That means, at least to me: as we go on with our work, that Barry goes on with us. I'm proud and grateful to know he's still here, alive in our memory and our thought."

Deborah Lotus commented, "Barry was a 'pure' Feldenkrais practitioner, in his own handwriting, informed by Judo of which he was also a practitioner; a "practitioner's practitioner" that you could always count on for a clear, intelligent Functional Integration® lesson, delivered in a non-egoistic, pragmatic way--what you needed was what he delivered. His dry sense of humor was always a delight. This is a sad loss to Boston region where he maintained a steady thriving practice, his friends, colleagues and clients will all miss him dearly."

Olivia Cheever who, experienced FI lessons with Barry regularly, including a week before, writes, "Less than two weeks after he suddenly less us, I am still reeling from the shock of losing my dear friend, colleague, and Feldenkrais brother. Sitting shiva with his wonderful family and friends as well as his hearing of his Memorial was bitter sweet listening to how many ways he had touched so many of us for many years in his modest, quiet, powerful way...Barry Levine was my Feldenkrais practitioner from whom I have had the privilege of receiving weekly FI for several years as well as other coaching. He knew how to create the conditions for me and them to discover and learn no matter what I/they showed up with. He embodied Feldenkrais not only in his graceful movements, teaching, hands-on clear FI and extensive Martial Arts background but his principled way of leading us to know for ourselves what we were doing so we could do what we want. He would always preface his lessons with some pithy quote and I can still hear that unique laugh of his in my ear and feel the sweet contact of our last hug at the door to his office.

He was an incredible fount of information whenever I would bring to him a new problem I was working on--whether helping a student, or in trying to figure something out for myself. When I had to be away, I knew I could refer my students to him and they would be in great hands literally and figuratively.  He knew how to create the conditions for me and them to discover and learn no matter what I/they showed up with. He embodied Feldenkrais not only in his graceful movements, teaching, hands-on clear FI’s and extensive Martial Arts background but his principled way of leading us to know for ourselves what we were doing so we could do what we want…I started to see Barry regularly for weekly FI which greatly helped me navigate very challenging work situations physically, mentally, and emotionally when the institutions where I was teaching my Feldenkrais courses were going through extremely stressful changes and I was feeling squeezed and caught in a vice between them. Then, in January 2014 an injury from a fall became chronic and he was helping me slowly to discover ways to improve my self-use so I wouldn’t keep reinjuring my dominant wrist and thumb. True to our Method, Barry didn’t “fix” me but rather led me to find the movements to reorganize myself. We were talking of finding a space to teach together in Needham where we both live as we were both wanting to stay closer to home and give back to our community...I will now do that on my own in his memory...Wherever you are, Barry, I’m sure you’re continuing to give wonderful lessons…”

Laurie Weinstein writes, "I am so shocked and sad. Barry was my assistant trainer in Boston and he is the most potent teacher I have ever had. His lessons are so spot on; simple enough to remember and powerful enough to touch my whole sensory and motor being, my feelings, thoughts, and emotions...I missed several opportunities to connect with him, to exchange lessons, to learn more judo, to consult on clients, to learn and improve my function and to make the most of my gifts. I have a huge regret that I am too late to talk to him. I think he knew how I felt, but I don't know if he truly knew how big my gratitude is. Barry leaves me with this last lesson: to sense myself, have a loving heart, listen, act according to my truth and take action.

Victoria Ahrensdorf writes, "The unexpected passing of Barry Levine has left a great hole in many of our hearts. Barry was a superb Feldenkrais teacher. Many of us gained so much in receiving Functional Integration lessons from him. So much so, that perhaps, he was the number one practitioner to see for FIs for many practitioners from all different trainings. I traveled 2.5 hours to get lessons with Barry...As assistant trainers together in the Boston Feldenkrais Professional Training Program (1994-1997), Barry and I gained another level of new respect for each other (after being Amherst grads together), which further deepened our friendship. We were thrilled to be in the training with Dennis Leri...While I have felt like Barry was a best friend and confidante to me, it has become clear in these past two weeks that many people had the same feeling!  At the service for Barry, more than a few people said: "Barry was my closest friend." In just a few conversations with Feldenkrais colleagues, the comments on their close relationship and fondness for Barry are consistent. It takes a very special person who creates this kind of close relationship with so many people. The respect we felt for Barry and from Barry is special and something to cherish for a long time.  And, perhaps, it can be a tiny balm on that hole in our hearts."

Josef DellaGrotte wrote a poem for the memorial service,
"Friend-now as ever,
in gratitude
for our many years connection,
coming from a source beyond perception,
and continuing on
into the greater realm of Being,
the ‘All That Is’, the Nameless,
holding us all together."

Special thank you to the New England (NE) Region Newsletter Editor, Misha Forrester, for letting us reprint this obituary, which first appeared in the NE Region Newsletter.
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Comments (1)
Deborah Elizabeth Lotus
12/18/2015 10:58:40 AM
Thank you for reprinting this, and thanks to Misha for her masterful way of putting it all together...and her own sensitivity to the specialness of Barry, who maintained and independent stance from FGNA proper, but still contributed mightily to the presence of Feldenkrais awareness in the New England Region of FGNA, in the best tradition of the 'indirect approach'...behind the scenes, but a 'rear engine' that drove us towards excellence, nonetheless.
Love, Deborah

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