November 12, 2015
While I didn’t use the word “lonely” in my pre-trip blog post called Craving Connection, that is how I was feeling. While my parents and my sister’s family both live a kilometer away from my family and much of my extended family is in Toronto, something was missing. Two of my best friends don’t live in Toronto. I know they are always a phone call away, and I can be totally authentic with them with no guard up. But it’s just not the same as a hug when you need it, a spontaneous walk or coffee date, an evening of belly laughs on the couch, or simply a meaningful face-to-face conversation with someone who can relate to exactly what you’re feeling. For whatever reason I’ve been struggling to make meaningful connections with other moms. Perhaps the reason is simple: H.P. (Higher Power). I was meant to take the JWRP journey. I was meant to meet these 47 amazing, smart, wise, beautiful women from Toronto. I was meant to lay eyes on and absorb the Jewish wisdom of the independent, march-to-the-beat-of-your-own-drum leaders who guided us through this life-changing adventure. And I was meant to hear the wisdom of our Madrich, Natan, who so powerfully said this in the final minutes of our last bus ride to the closing banquet: “If you see or hear something that inspires you, it’s not because you want to be that person or be like that person, it’s because you see that potential in yourself.” Wow.
I was no doubt inspired by so much these past eight days. The beauty of the Jewish traditions, the courage of the women who shared their unique stories on our bus, the bravery of our soldiers, the strength of Yossi, a man who became blind and deaf as a result of a faulty vaccination he received at 11 months old, and whose mom created Shalva, a magical place for him and other children like him.
But if I boil it down to one thing, I think this is and will continue to be my own inspiration: If you open up, the love will flow in…and out.
I came to Israel open and I’m so grateful for that. I came ready to learn, to give, bond, hug, share, and love. I was open to making connections with my Jewish roots and traditions, with other women, and myself. As the saying goes, you get what you give. And these past eight days, I gave my open heart. And it will stay open for whoever wants in.
Thank you to the JWRP and all the amazing people on stage and behind the scenes who make this magic happen. This once-in-a-lifetime journey was orchestrated and executed flawlessly — the lectures, the music, the dancing, the history, the sites, the sounds, the tastes. I gave myself to you, and you gave me a priceless experience that will make me a better person, wife, mother, daughter, and friend.
Thank you to everyone for sharing my journey through my words – especially my husband, mom, and sister.
Finally, thank you to my husband – my cheerleader on the sidelines. You believe in me and love me unconditionally and supported me 1000% during this journey. I can’t wait for you to have your own JWRP experience in just a few days. When you board that plane on Sunday, do so with an open mind and heart. The love will flow from there.