It all began in Utah in 2008. It was there, during a four-day retreat, that eight Jewish women from all walks of life came together, having realized that the values of the world were spiraling out of control. The group, consisting of married, single, older, younger, observant and non-observant women, had one mission: to create a movement that brings values back to the world. Thus the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) was born.
Approximately two years later, Esti Schwab and Yehudis Heyman of the Denver Community Kollel attended a WIK (Women in Kiruv [Outreach]) Conference, where they heard Lori Palatnik, one of the founders of JWRP, make a presentation about the program. Excited and intrigued by the idea, they returned to Denver, recruited a group of women, and made their first JWRP trip to Israel in 2011. Their latest trip took place this past December, when they, with a group of nine women from Denver, joined with groups of women hailing from cities across the United States and across the world. “We had women from places like Atlanta, Long Island, Mexico, Baltimore, and Chile,” says Esti Schwab. “The entire trip is designed by women, for women, and the organizers are constantly improving and perfecting the itinerary. The result is an inspiring, delightful journey of a lifetime.”
A major concern for many is how the family will cope during Mom’s absence. “Families manage without Mom for the ten days of the trip, and they feel it’s worth the stretch,” says Esti.
Created to inspire Jewish women, who would then spread the beauty of Judaism to their family, friends, and community, the JWRP mission often results in families becoming more interested in exploring their heritage, sending their children to Jewish day schools, getting involved in Torah study, and taking on greater levels of observance. The Kollel maintains close ties with the participants after their return, assisting in making the inspiration last, and helping translate it into everyday life.
The mission also presents opportunities to meet new people and forge friendships – an opportunity that extends well beyond the mission itself, says Esti. “Apart from the camaraderie and friendship formed amongst those who have journeyed together, women who went on the mission often meet other women who participated in a trip at other times,” she says. “It creates an instant bond of shared experience.”
If you or someone you know may be interested in participating in a future JWRP mission, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.