THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! to NCSY for extending an extraordinary opportunity to me and 17 other Toronto mothers, a chance to live and breathe Israel and Judaism with Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project.
If you are a mother reading this, it means you have chosen to pamper yourself with some time out to read, hopefully uninterrupted, for at least 10 minutes, to spend some time to re-energize yourself, even if only temporarily.
Now, try to imagine being pampered these same ways for 9 solid days. Expand this dream by placing yourself in Israel in mid-summer with 17 more mothers from Toronto and some extraordinary and inspiring speakers and tour guides. Include bright blue skies, great conversations and good Israeli coffee, walking the streets of Jerusalem toward the Kotel. Feel like a kid at camp again, where the day’s activities, meals and transportation were planned by others and all we had to do was live in the moment and enjoy being able to really hear and see what Israel is and what Israel means. Here, we got to be followers. This is only a fraction of what we experienced during the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, thanks to the insight and generosity of NCSY.
NCSY for their first time, offered to sponsor Toronto mothers on JWRP. It was a new initiative, a time to study our past and to become an investment in the future of our people, and one that has already reaped many rewards. We know there are so many people who helped give us this trip where some of the most common comments are: Life-changing, eye-opening, so inspiring, gut-wrenching, emotionally uplifting. Words cannot really do justice to the entire experience.
For every individual woman who participated in this Project, there is a multitude of experiences, emotions, revelations, friendships and lessons learned, and for all of these: we thank you.
For every lecture given by the indomitable and thought-provoking Lori Palatnik, we thank you.
For every hike, every tour, every meal, each site visited, each camel ride and Dead Sea float: we thank you.
For each footstep we took in the holy City of Safed on well-worn stairs climbed and cobbled streets walked by so many in generations before us; we thank you.
For the chance to personally thank Israeli soldiers, while silently reflecting on our own Canadian children, similar in age yet worlds apart: we thank you.
For the moments we stood, overwhelmed emotionally and in tears at Yad VaShem: we thank you.
For the strong bonds formed with our amazing travel partners, the women we now call Sisters: we thank you.
For the breath-taking moment at the top of Masada as we heard the echoes of our own voices in Am Israel Chai: we thank you.
For the opportunities to listen, to hear, to question and to discuss: we thank you.
For the opportunity to share in the Mitzvah of writing a letter in a Sefer Torah: we thank you.
For the chance to support the Israeli economy as we shopped to our heart’s content: we, and the Israeli merchants and craftspeople thank you.
For the most beautiful and meaningful personal siddurim presented to us just before Shabbat at the Kotel: we thank you.
For the chance to be accepted as we are, wherever we are spiritually, and for the chance to move forward and upward from there: we thank you.
For the late nights in Jerusalem walking the streets and absorbing the cacaphony of languages and music, spirit and energy: we thank you.
For the opportunity to grow as woman, as mothers, as members of K’lal Israel and as Jews: we thank you.
For the chance to raft down the Jordan and laugh ourselves silly and engage in deep personal conversations: we thank you.
For the chance to study, reflect, study and reflect some more: we thank you.
For the opportunity to learn about the mitzvah of Challah which some of us now bake at our own homes: we thank you.
For the chance to bring this all back to our own families in Toronto: we thank you.
We returned what felt like months later so overwhelmed, exhilarated, inspired, exhausted and with a deeper bond to the state of Israel. But in all of this, with this gift from NCSY we, the mothers, and our families are so much richer.
We appreciate the generosity of NCSY and Torah High and hope to do you and ourselves proud as we pay it all forward as best we can. At the end of the day, if you are reading this and wondering how you too can be a part of this extraordinary program, please consider supporting NCSY with your time, your resources, your goodwill, and by telling your friends all about it.