It is Tu B’shvat.
Everything is ready to spring forth… only the stirrings are too deep within the earth to be visible.
Typical as Jews, we are celebrating already.
That is the power of Emuna. (Or shall we call it.. E-moon-a? 😉
The fruit of the tree represents the sweet outcome of all our blood, sweat and tears, the object of our strivings.
I have just arrived back from my trip to Eretz Yisroel. I tasted the winter. Outside my window now as I write in my home in Johannesburg my lawn is as green as late summer. Yet in the inner plane, we are all one, our seasons may differ but we share the same pulse of the Jewish year.
The sap is rising.
There is so much about to spring forth, for our new “school-year” at Nexus, for Jewish women, for Klal Yisroel. May the future approach us l’tovah and may we only share simchas!
Where do I start?
(Make sure you catch the end of this email for news of the Nexus School Opening 2020 launch, live in person with Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein and special guest from Eretz Yisroel R’ Nir Menussi, author of the sefer “Who is this Rising?” which has formed the base for my feature courses, Rise! Into your Feminine, Chava and Imahot.)
My daughter, Ayala Esther, is becoming a bas-mitzvah in a few weeks. Whomever we asked for a brocha said the same thing about her name: Ayala is a hint to the morning star, the Ayelet Hashachar that signals the rising of the dawn. (See psalm 22.) It is the faith in a brighter future that appears in the dark of night. (Just like Tu B’shvat!) Esther means hidden. This is exactly our theme as women, growing with and into the new light, the אור חדש, that is dawning, cherishing it within us until it will blaze fully in its time.
My mission for the trip was to share the gems from the Chava course with the women in Israel. Thus, I was to be speaking about femininity through everything we have articulated thus far at the school. Little did I know that I was to face my own femininity like never before. Yes, the best part of the trip caught me by surprise, and only emerged at the end. My trip to Israel was a home-coming, but not in the way I thought it would be.
Right as we arrived, our accommodation fell through. Despite all that we had planned, we suddenly could only think of one thing: our basic needs. Lodging, transportation, and food (gluten free!) – in that order! It drove home the point that without a home – a bayit – the container for anything and everything else just doesn’t exist. The Jewish woman is the one who in her beingness creates these very oases, those spaces that despite their imperfections are the perfect places that set the stage for history to unfold.
Special thank you to our three hosts that provided a home for u: My sister Devorah Hochstadter in Ramat Beis Shemesh and Chaya Lester and Rivka Stauber in Nachlaot. I cannot thank you enough.
Here are some pictures that I managed to snap, in no particular order. The beautiful inner city.
It was a huge privilege visiting my seminary, BJJ, 20 years after leaving. There it is in the background. My teachers, bli ayin hara – may Hashem bless them with continued vigor, are still teaching, still pouring everything they have and are into new talmidot every single year. These sterling Bais Yaakov schools are a lesson in stability, in un-shakeable values, and in the richness and fulfillment that comes from living according to those values.
R’ Menussi’s wife, Naama, drove us to meet the source of Rav Menussi’s inspiration for his book, “Who is this Rising”, R’ Yitzchak Ginsburg, which was a great zechut. I didn’t realize that he hailed from St. Louis, the city where I grew up. The meeting transcended words – so it is with a great person who is comfortable with himself, he did not need to fill the gaps with unnecessary speech. His presence and support gave me great chizuk.
Ah, the Embrace Shabbos Shabbaton. I cannot put into words how magical it is when women connect with each-other around their connection to Hashem. It is truly Miriam’s Circle Dance when that happens. It was an honor to teach alongside Rebbitzen Yehudis Golshevsky and the entire staff at Shiviti (check out this beautiful women’s center of learning in the heart of Jerusalem: www.shiviti.org.il). Liba and Rochel, living continents apart, began something which I think is just the beginning when they organized this. You can be in touch with them here: https://www.kavconnect.com/embraceshabbos.
Emuna day. I don’t know how or why, but I was asked to be MC. Despite the fact that I was backpacking through Israel with a baby, I did my best to open the incredible gathering of over 400 Jerusalem English speaking women seeking to make contact with the Emuna that is our inner essence. It may fluctuate in how much it penetrates us at any given moment, but it is always there – it is ours. The incredible vision of this event belongs to Devorah Yaffa Singer. (pictured just above: Rivka Stauber, Orit Esther Riter)
(There is something happening, can you feel it?)
^ Rochel Weiman from Kav Connect and Elevate Shabbos Retreats (left) and my awesome sister Devorah (right)
The Chava Crash Course in Israel took place at the Nitza Center, a center dedicated to the support of women after birth (no video yet). Thank you so much to Jeanne (Shaina) Rubin for hosting us. It was perfect! What a diverse we were and how the teachings met us all where we needed to be.
Stay tuned for Feb 23rd for the South African crash course! which I’ll tell you about next time. It will be recorded and will enable you to join Sarah which is starting really soon beH – Feb 26th!!
Before I sign off…. if you haven’t joined the Global Geula Summit yet, here it is!
I am so looking forward to my interview with Shifra. Her way of seeing the world is very, very large. Geula isn’t something that we can’t relate to. It is something we create, long for, and align with through the power of will and good choices. I will be speaking about why the Rise of Femininity is an important part of this conversation. I may end up sharing a lot 🙂 Click on the image to sign up – it’s free.
Last but not least!
SOUTH AFRICANS – THIS IS FOR YOU!
Everyone else, I will be recording this!
I am partnering with the incredible Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, founder of the Shabbos project, Sinai Inaba, and so much more. He has brought the office of the Chief Rabbi way out of mere political spheres and into the resurgence of Torah on the southern tip of Africa and worldwide. He is preparing a message for women Jewry at the opening event. We are serving breakfast, I am opening up my piano 🙂 and R’ Menussi is coming all the way from Israel to talk about the million dollar question… WHAT ABOUT THE MEN? Where do they fit in all of this? How do relationships change when women grow? How do we guide this process that is taking place before our very eyes according to Torah?
If you live in Joburg, please book HERE so we can cater for you.
PS. Ayala is making a camp for your kids while you come and enjoy! Let her know you are bringing your kids by replying to this email.
If you don’t live in SA, consider sponsoring the talks in the merit of a loved one to help me cover expenses. Reply to this email.
I think that is enough for now! 🙂
Oh! I forgot to tell you the sweetest part of the trip, the part that surprised me.
It wasn’t the brochos we got … though they are so precious to me. It wasn’t Emuna day, though it was precious. No, not even the Shabbaton. Not the crash course. Not even just walking on holy soil. Or all the holy souls I met.
Did I mention that my baby wouldn’t go to sleep? Until past midnight every single night no matter what I would do?
I was stretched.
And then, at the end, I realized what was happening. She needed my attention, which she obviously hadn’t gotten enough of while sharing me with older siblings (and with our household help! – but that’s another story!) in Johannesburg.
Well, she got it in Israel. And finally, it happened – we attached. BH. Properly. Just in time for her kiddish in honor of her birth happening this week if you are in Joburg.
Femininity, its not what you expect. But it makes you smile!
Wishing you a beautiful week and elevated shabbos.
Passing on whatever blessings I received from the Holy Land…
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