“THE MAN IS the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.” I remember laughing so hard when I first heard that line from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. JWRP says, “Inspire a woman, you inspire a family. Inspire enough families, you inspire a community. Inspire enough communities, you can change the world. If you wanted to have the greatest influence on the direction of the Jewish people, whom should you target? The Jewish mother, that’s who.”
I recently had the chance to speak with Stephanie Gavshon about how she became involved with JWRP and why she is so passionate about the project. “Back in December 2014, unbeknownst to each another, Nadine Durbach Dubery and I applied to the JWRP free trip to Israel sponsored by Aish Los Angeles. We were both rejected as we did not live close enough to the sponsoring organization. However, this rejection from the LA program was inspirational for Nadine and me and now for our OC Jewish community. We met with Rebbetzin Natalie and Rabbi Ciner from Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine, who were immediately excited to help create this amazing program here for Orange County Jewish women.
We did not know each other, we came from diverse Jewish backgrounds, affiliated and unaffiliated, and we developed an extraordinarily deep sisterhood from our experience on the JWRP MOMentum trip in Israel in addition to our community learning and social gatherings led by Rebbetzin Natalie Ciner here that continue today.”
They experienced a beautiful guided historical tour of Israel experiencing many meaningful sites in Tiberias, Tzvat, Tel Aviv, Yad Vashem, the Kotel, Jerusalem, Masada, the Dead Sea, etc. and attended classes by spectacularly gifted JWRP speakers about being Jewish women, wives, mothers and community leaders. “We met with IDF soldiers to thank them and provided them with care packages we made. We were nourished spiritually with amazing, uplifting classes and nourished physically with delicious food and thoughtfulness and care. We learned, we danced, we ate, we prayed, we cried. We were truly spoiled in Israel. It is an unbelievable program.”
None of this would be possible without Rebbetzin Natalie and Rabbi Ciner from Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine. Rabbi Ciner will also lead the first JWRP men’s group in August 2017. “This JWRP experience is not just a gift for the actual participants; it truly is a blessing for the families and our community as we returned with a renewed enthusiasm for Israel and Judaism at home and beyond.”
Anyone interested in helping to make this program available to OC Jewish women can help support the sponsoring organization fund this experience by contributing here: https://www.bethjacobirvine.org/payment.php and write by payment notes “BJ JWRP trip.” (tax deductible donation) or you can call their office at 949-786-5230. The next OC trip is May 9-16, 2017. Women interested in applying for a waitlist or for future trips should apply here: https://jwrp.secure.force.com/applyenglish?gender=W
Tanya Schwied graduated from New York University, studied abroad in Israel, and currently works for the CEO and President of Jewish Federation & Family Services.