“The freeing part is reaching your potential. Anything that holds you back from reaching your potential; is enslaving you.” – Lori Polatnik
Archive for May, 2011
“A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
“We are family, I got all my sisters with me…”
Daily steps; 18, 559. Running total; 58, 176
Date: Sunday June 5, 2011
Time: 8:00 pm
Place: Rhonda Halpern, 239 Bathurst Glen Drive, Thornhill Woods
Charge: $10.00 per person to cover food and refreshments
Newcomers are Free
Join us at the home of Rhonda Halpern for a pre Shavuot Cheese and Wine evening and listen to our guest speaker, Mrs. Adina Ribicoff who will be speaking on “The Woman’s Role in Shavuot”.
Mrs. Ribicoff is an inspiring and talented speaker who lectures to a variety of audiences. She is the principal of the Tiferes Bais Yaakov Girl’s School in Toronto.
“If women would only realize how much blessing they bring into their homes through the mitzvah of Challah, there would not be a bakery in town that could sell even a single challah!” – quoted from Raizy Guttman’s Challah Baking Class
While I was contemplating my weed problem last week, it seems so was Obama. His big weed is that annoying, aggravating, uncooperative little Jewish state in the heart of the Middle East that just won’t go away! Weed management is a challenging task and Obama decided that the approach would have to be one of restriction, containment and ultimately suffocation.
You might accuse me of coming out a little strong against a so-called ally and I do agree it is more Israel’s neighbours who treat her as the weed to be eradicated. However when Obama’s requirements for “peace” demand an Israeli withdrawal back to the indefensible 1967 borders, that amounts to just another form of weed management. The gardening technique might be different from those who call for our destruction, but the result, intentional or not, is the same.
As for my weeds, I have spent considerable time and thought in planning my attack. In the end after far too much procrastination I decided that I would simply resort to the good old fashioned quick-fix temporary solution of mowing them down! Interestingly my contemplation was not without gain as it forced me to look more at this interesting creation called “the weed”.
I remember last year, my first spring in Toronto, how I admiringly and naively commented on the delicate yellow flowers that speckled the green lawns of Toronto’s parks, gardens and fields. I was horrified when within a few days the flowers had disappeared and in their place stood thick proud weeds. This year I paid closer attention and it was an amazing process to witness. It all begins with that innocent placid yellow flower adding colour to the fresh grass and spice to the Spring. It takes however no more than a rainfall or two for the metamorphosis to begin. First, the disproportionately fleshy leaves burst forth from below ground readying to act as support and anchor for stage two. Next, the yellow flower is projected skywards on a stem which literally shoots up overnight hoisting this once innocent flower to a strategic seed-dispersal height, well above the tallest grass (even by the standards of infrequent mowers, like myself.) And then, in a final triumphant charge, the little yellow flower sheds its colour and its form and turns into a multi-seed bearing dandelion like flower. All that is required next is either a soft breath of wind or an excited puff or kick from my 2 year old and the seeds are dispersed far and wide ready to begin the process again in new territory. Could you have come up with such an ingenious little plant? What can we learn from this wonderful creation?
The weed is certainly and understandably not well liked, nevertheless it displays some very admirable qualities. The weed has a purpose and it will use all of its creative powers, including shedding its pleasant yellow flower, in order to achieve that purpose. The weed displays committed and courageous determination, focused on the end goal and a hard headed resilience to bounce back from all adversity. (It took only two days after mowing the critters down before their fleshy stems were already standing tall and proud ready to do battle with me again!)
Many out there might consider and treat the Jewish People as weeds. Our purpose in this world is not to be the weeds of humanity, G-d forbid. On the contrary we are to be a “light unto the nations.” However the determination, resilience and creativity of the weed are qualities which are very Jewish. Both as a people and as individuals we must never lose sight of our end goal. And furthermore we have to remain courageously true to that goal even when it means shedding our pleasant flower and staring defiantly into the face of enemies and allies!
May we all merit to have the weed-like strength and creativity to stay committed to our goals of growth and spirituality, despite all the challenges and adversity.
Wishing everyone a wonderful Shabbat
Daily steps; 3,646 Running total; 29,879
“Be not ashamed, woman…
You are the gates of the body,
and you are the gates of the soul.” – Walt Whitman
It seems this trip has been planned with something for everyone, and for each of our sensibilities.
From our morning lecture; which appealed to our minds,our lunch in the Jerusalem forest; which appealed to our eyes and ears,our working in the soup kitchen; which appealed to our hearts,and our visit to Yad Vashem; which touched our souls.
Our speaker this morning, Brian, took us through some history, some politics and left us with this concept – everything is bearable, as long as we know the why. It set the tone for the rest of our day’s activities.
In the Chazon Yishaya soup kitchen we learned from Abraham Israel the reason, the why, he started feeding the impoverished. He told us of his childhood promise to himself, after years of needing to rely on charity to eat, he vowed to help feed people when he could. Now many years (and much success) later, he does exactly that.
As we were busy peeling the potatoes (YES, we were peeling potatoes! And cutting cucumbers, and mixing couscous, and more), we shared the duties with a woman named Brenda Magid from Durban. She and her husband Allan sent their regards to the Kukle family, who are part of the Shul. Yet another example of hashgacha, or “chance coincidence”.
We enjoyed our lunch in the beautiful Jerusalem forest, and then continued to Yad Vashem.
It is very hard to find the words to explain Yad Vashem.
It is equally difficult not to honour Yad Vashem with the words it deserves.
Words cannot describe the experience.
Putting words to Yad Vashem is like trying to describe tears. No sooner does one fall before the next is formed. Words, like tears, must be felt to be understood. Words, like tears, are easy to shed, difficult to grasp.
Today we shed tears for the Holocaust, for the past.
It is time to shed words.
Our parents and grandparents never wanted to speak about it.
Look forward, they would say, never back.
We are the daughters and the grand-daughters of the Holocaust.
We are separated from the Shoah by decades, but joined by our faith.
Our faith in the goodness of humanity.
Our faith in hope.
Our faith in G-d.
Whether we had lost it or found it, we were united by it.
By looking back, we can begin to look forward.
And the journey continues…
Blog by Merav Richter
“Greater than loving someone; is understanding them.” – Lori Palatnik
Daily steps; 11,078 Running total; 26,223
In yesterday’s class, Lori spoke about gossip- or lashon hora, which set the tone for the day. Every free moment (which were few and far between), we would find ourselves engaging in philosophical discussions about the ways in which we communicate.
Today’s class was just as thought provoking, and elicited as much exuberant chatter among the ladies. In today’s lecture, Lori talked about the different “types” of character that we are all born with. These archetypes represent the three forefathers- Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Throughout the rest of the day, we were having fun figuring out which of us were Chaims, Brachas, and Tovs. Turns out, often the women in our group already knew one another’s dominant traits better than we knew ourselves!
Then we ventured to the Kotel, which is literally steps away from the downstairs exit of the new Aish Hatorah building. The building was recently finished after years of construction and it is absolutely breathtaking. As beautiful as the inside of the building is, it simply cannot compare to the majesty and serenity of the view of the Western Wall from the roof.
At the Kotel, we went in to say a prayer, and place a note. While we were there, we heard a beautiful birdsong. A dove was gently perched up on one of the high rocks of the wall. This birdsong carried a message; it was a symbol for each one of us women to sing her song, to tell her story, to speak from her heart. We embraced each other, we shed our tears, and we felt the power of our unity.
We took some time to enjoy lunch and free time in Jerusalem before continuing on to our guided tour with our guide Patrick. He took us on an intimate walk through Jerusalem and brought the old city to life through his explanations.
Einstein once said “Coincidence is G-d’s way of remaining anonymous.” Lori Palatnik (the woman behind the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project) explained the significance of instances of hashgacha, divine interventions. Throughout the day we kept finding instances of “coincidences”, chance encounters and fortuitous meetings. We even bumped into Mr. and Mrs. Abrahams, whose family is from our community!
Tired but exhilarated, we returned to our hotel to enjoy a free night reminiscing over our day and sharing with our friends.
And the journey continues…
P.S. Wishing Laura Berk and her husband Marc Rosenfeld,Angela Weil and her husband Marc,and Merav Richter and her husband Daniel a happy wedding anniversary.You are all special men to support your wives in this journey. Please know how much we appreciate and love you.
Blog by Merav Richter
Daily steps; 4932 Running total: 15,145
Blog by Merav Richter
The Thornhill Woods Shul have sent 15 women participants and 2 city leaders on the May 2011 JWRP Israel Mission. You can follow their every movement on our very own program blog. View Blog.
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