November 3, 2015
Today, the first day of our JWRP trip, was the first time I’d ever heard this phrase. It was spoken by one of our wonderful city leaders as she was describing her relationship with Judaism and how she incorporates Jewish values and traditions into her life, family, and personal growth. I like it and it stuck with me. For me, it reinforces part of the reason I’m on this trip/journey/adventure. To celebrate my Judaism, better understand the meaning behind some of the Jewish traditions and values I haven’t yet taken the time to explore as a Jewish woman, explore Israel and all it has to offer to someone living thousands of miles away, and meet and connect with other women who are here for similar reasons. I also like it because it can potentially speak to everyone, whether they label themselves “religious,” “observant,” “traditional,” “secular,” “conservative,” “orthodox,” or anything else. Or if they don’t label themselves at all. I suspect I am also drawn to it because in many ways it describes how I’m feeling right now about my own personal connection to Judaism, how I am and how I want to incorporate Judaism into my life and my family’s life, and the steps I’m taking to grow, learn, and evolve as a modern Jewish woman. I guess today, the first day of this trip, I took my first step.
Besides finding (okay, stealing) a new and refreshing way to refer to myself as it relates to my Judaism, the first day of our trip offered the opportunity to meet and learn about some of the other women in our group – both about their life back home and what brought them to Israel today. On this topic, I’ll steal another phrase (though I’m not sure who said it first): Everybody has a story. While our chats were short, I could feel the connections starting as I spoke with different women on the bus and during dinner. These are some pretty awesome, smart, and inspiring women for so many different reasons. I spoke to one woman whose eyes lit up and a smile took over her face as she spoke about a company she started and runs out of her basement that offers unique art classes for kids. And I was fortunate to meet another woman who has fostered several children and is currently fostering a child now. It’s only day one and I’m already amazed – and I truly feel so fortunate to have this opportunity.
I can’t wait to get to know all my JWRP sisters over the next 8 days – this Joyously Jewish woman is ready to jump right in!