By Beth Kushnick and Chelsea Karp
Special to HAKOL
Eighteen Jewish moms visited Israel in July 2017 for a 10-day trip with the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project. The trip was made possible by generous donations from Lehigh Valley community members and the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley. JWRP instills the idea that if you inspire a woman, you inspire a family. Inspire enough families, and you inspire a community. Inspire enough communities, and you change the world.
And the Lehigh Valley women are doing just that. Fall is in the air and programming has begun! Working with Jeri Zimmerman, assistant executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, the group has made a commitment to year-long monthly Jewish learning, The lessons started with a Yom Kippur lesson on “The Power of Healing.” Gevura Davis, a national speaker and director of programming for the Etz Chaim Center in Elkins Park who served as a group leader for the Lehigh Valley trip, shared important thought provoking ideas through Talmudic lessons and her personal experiences.
October’s class focused on caring for and preserving the most important relationship in a woman’s life, her relationship with her husband. The JWRP women, along with their husbands, attended this special evening that provided insight and guidance for a successful and happy marriage.
Along with these classes, the JWRP women have taken the initiative to give back to the Lehigh Valley community by partnering with Jewish Family Service. At each of their monthly meetings, the women donate chosen food items to the Community Food Pantry. This ongoing project has inspired four of the JWRP families to request a personal tour of the food pantry so they may bring a family donation and help stock the shelves. Lisa Ellis, one of the moms, said, “I wanted to bring my children to the food pantry so they could understand that not everyone is as fortunate as they, and that it’s important to share your good fortune with others.”
The trip, created a bond with the group that has given them opportunity to get together for some fun! Avichai, the Israeli tour bus staffer and madrich of the trip, got married on Oct. 2 in Israel and broadcast the wedding live on Facebook. The Lehigh Valley girls had a wedding viewing and celebration in his honor, complete with cake and decorations.
After visiting Masada, many of the women were interested in learning more. Participant Amy Fels decided to host a viewing of the movie, “Masada.” “I thought if others saw the visual story of what took place thousands of years ago where we stood, touched and walked, it would make their experience more meaningful and bring the history to life. Really feeling the depth and strength of our ancestors’ fight is a key part in Jewish survival today.”
We have exciting plans for the group in November and December. We look forward to sharing with you what we’re doing in our community and how we’re inspiring and paying it forward. We’ll have two teams at the Latke -Vodka Hanukkah Cook-Off on Dec. 14 at the JCC and we hope to see you there!