Love With Purpose
This last week I have been leading a group of Manhattan woman on a mission in Israel. Our group is part of 200 women from many cities participating in the Jewish Women Renaissance Project led by an amazing and inspiring woman Lori Palatnik. It is like a “Birthright” trip for moms, where moms come to Israel for 10 days for free. Over 1,000 women participate a year. Lori believes in the power of moms. If you can inspire a mom, she will in turn effect growth in her family and community, and thereby change world.
It has been amazing to watch the women transform. This trip is meticulously planned to connect the women to spirituality, the land of Israel, and their heritage. We have also learned about so many important subjects from marriage, mikva, lashon hara, Jewish values, and more. These women have been given an incredible tool box. And they have been put on a path facing a certain direction. Now the challenge is to stay on the journey and use the tools.
We are here over Tisha B’Av, the day that both the Temples (Beit Hamikdash) were destroyed. On this day we recall the suffering of the Jewish people throughout history. We also learn that the second temple was destroyed because of sinat chinam – baseless hatred – amongst the Jews. We are being hosted by Aish Hatorah. The Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Noah Weinberg Z”L, said the antidote to baseless hatred is purposeful love. What an amazing idea.
Last night we participated in a program where 200 religious women from Jerusalem were invited to come join our group. The idea was that each woman brings a photo and recipe and contact details, meets a woman and connect with someone they would not normally come into contact with. Honestly I walked into the room after hearing Eicha (Lamentations), I looked around at the 400 women including strangers, and thought, “uggghhh I have no energy to meet these women who I share nothing in common with. And it’s Tisha B’av – a solemn day – not a time for socializing.”
The program started and a tiny hassidic lady was joined on the stage by drop dead gorgeous Effie – a movie star from Tel Aviv. They shared their story how they met on a plane to New York. How both sides prejudged the other and how through Effie challenging this woman on the “why’s” of Judaism they formed a relationship and she invited him to Borough Park – a Hassidic neighborhood – for Shabbat. There was a slide show supporting the beautiful friendship and relationship: he this secular Tel Avivnik and they in their streimels and white socks. The contrast so obvious. The love and respect so amazing. This life-changing journey all started by each side just engaging in conversation. By the time we set out to actually meet these “other women” there was palpable excitement and amazing relationships were built. Such an amazing exercise in Purposeful Love, the perfect antidote to baseless hatred on the exact day that it is most needed.
What an inspiring lesson for all moms. If we can only take a step back each moment of our lives and reframe with the notion of Purposeful Love. Imagine the lessons we can teach our kids.
Originally published: July 29, 2012
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