Today was THE day of breakthrough and A-ha moments. The day of raw emotion and self-honesty. The theme today was “Peace and Wholeness in the Home – Shalom Bayit.”
The day started with an insanely inspirational talk by Lori Palatnik about marriage and the oneness that is achieved when two half-souls become one and love. “What’s important to you is important to me” and “The more you give, the more you love” were two take-home messages. Showing a genuine interest in what your partner is doing and experiencing and being giving of yourself are two selfless states that only serve to reinforce the connection and thus benefit the couple. Let go of resentment and focus on the goodness in your partner, not the challenging qualities. They are the most important person in your life and thus merit the respect that comes from holding that title. Sadly as the years go by in marriage, we often lose focus on what is important, and the thread that keeps us united starts to loosen. I’m grateful that I was reminded of what matters and have created new goals to reach.
Next, we toured Tsfat, the mystical city and Kabbalah hub of Israel. We visited this incredible Mikvah-it was my first time. Many women think negatively about Mikvah because they falsely believe that Judaism has labeled women as unpure and dirty. After touring with a wonderful woman named Elisheva, we learned that this is so far from the truth. The mikva is a real spiritual act of rebirth. A letting go of baggage from the prior month and a fresh start to the coming month. Elisheva touched a genuine cord in many of us. She spoke about self-love and appreciating every part of our bodies because we all exude beauty. As she preps herself for the Mikvah, she removes all the layers that mask her pure self- the makeup and nail polish, accessories, and clothes. She looks at herself in the mirror and blows herself a kiss and calls herself beautiful. We all reflected on that for a while. As women, we are so critical of our physical selves. We need to be more accepting of ourselves and to love ourselves, to show ourselves kindness the way we show others.
After a quick lunch-yup, you guessed it, shawarma/falafel again, we got on our bus and drove to Jerusalem. Dinner was amazing at an Asian fusion restaurant – Kosher and all. And finally, the night ended with a debriefing about our day with our leader Anat.
Let me tell you a little about Anat Toledano. She is this wonderful, inspirational woman who leads the Jewish studies department at JPPS-Bialik. She is kind, classy, nonjudgmental, easy to talk to, and a person we are all so privileged to call our friend.
Today was an emotionally difficult day. We cried many times and felt vulnerable. We delved into personal matters that had been pushed deep down. We came out of it with renewed motivation to right wrongs, to better ourselves and our relationships, and to find peace. We also realized that we all have baggage and personal struggles. And most importantly, we each found nine new women who showed us that they are there to support us in solidarity and comfort.
Dr. Leslie Solomon
Montreal, QC, Canada