Reflections from Project Inspire Rockland

On Thursday night, November 5, 2020 Project Inspire put together a marvelous special edition Shabbat Show (The Shabbat Show Extravaganza) to welcome in the Shabbos of the Shabbat Project. They had a special show just for woman to start it off and power it on. There were powerful speakers who shared their personal stories with us to teach us the importance of gratitude in our lives. There was music and a virtual trip to the Kotel, as well as many more inspiring segments.

The main program, that was open to everyone, contained an additional two packed hours of Connection, Unity, and Sharing Shabbat, featuring cities from across the world! No longer were we just ourselves celebrating Shabbos alone during this pandemic. We had a chance to connect with and draw inspiration from exciting programs being launched around the world! Within the program were moving videos about the power of lighting Shabbat candles and keeping shabbat apart but together. They had many fabulous guest speakers including Eli Beer, the founder of United Hatzalah in Israel, Lori Palatnik, the founding director of the Momentum trips that have made such a difference in the world of Jewish women and their families! We had the chance to hear about all the programs that Olami is offering on college campuses and how it is rediscovering ways to bring Shabbos to college youth with Covid safety in mind. There was a fascinating tour of the Artscroll printing factory and the power of Torah learning that is open to all of us through the many volumes of Judaic texts that are available with wonderful English translations and books on all topics of Judaism! These are just a few of the many speakers and topics that were presented at this awesome program. I was so inspired and blown away by all that is going on in the Jewish community and so proud to be a part of it!

I can’t even begin to imagine how much time, work, research, talent and money went into the Women’s Power Hour and two hour Shabbat Show Extravaganza!  Charlie Harary was great; he is a real pro as a talk show host!  Hashem should bless all your efforts! Those who missed out on the original viewing should take advantage and watch the recording of this wonderful program!

–Dena Kerner, Rockland Community Leader

Prior to COVID Rockland Project Inspire had monthly learning meetings at Lisa Weber’s home where we would all get together and learn about customs, holidays and important Jewish women. Once COVID started, we couldn’t continue our monthly meetings and couldn’t see each other at all. Some of us were celebrating simchas during this time and others lost some loved ones. There was no way for us to see each other and keep up with each other’s lives.

I initiated pre-Shabbat Show zoom meetings for our Rockland group so we could see each other and talk for half hour a week about our lives and Shabbat. We shared different ways we bring in Shabbat and different rituals we have. We then decided to discuss the parsha of the week. We then follow up with a discussion about life, Torah and lessons we can apply to how we view life’s events. The meetings take place every week, even on Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. You can usually find 12-15 women on the Zoom meeting each week. I can say for myself that I look forward to Zooming every Thursday with these women who I consider sisters. It helps me to know that I will see their faces each week and get to learn with them and be there for each other during these difficult times. It has also made me more interested in learning about the weekly parsha. I even felt comfortable researching the weekly parsha myself and talking about it and what I learned from it at last week’s meeting.

I think these meetings have become a silver lining for the participants in otherwise lonely times. I think we each look forward to 7:30 pm on Thursdays for connection and inspiration.

— Rhonda Benjamin Goldblatt, 2016 Project Inspire/Momentum trip participant

I was honored to be a part of the Project Inspire trip to Israel in 2016. The absolute best experience of my life!  Our pre-Shabbos zoom meetings each week brings back wonderful memories as many of us were together on that trip.  I love learning not only the weekly parsha, but the customs of all the holidays. I look forward to this every week.

— Perian Kaye, 2016 Project Inspire/Momentum trip participant

I thoroughly enjoy our regularly scheduled Project Inspire zoom meetings on Thursday nights. It a good opportunity to see and connect with other Jewish women. We have an attendance rate of about 12-16 participants, composed of secular and observant women.  Each Thursday, one woman presents the weekly parsha and then a discussion follows. We are free to share our experiences and Jewish traditions with the group in a non-judgmental, supportive forum.  I look forward to Thursday nights as it adds structure and routine to my week. During these challenging times, it’s a constant in my life. The women of Project Inspire Rockland are a special group and I am grateful and fortunate to have them in my life.

 –Cheryl Epstein, 2016 Project Inspire/Momentum trip participant

For the past several years, I’ve been hosting (in person!) our monthly Rockland Project Inspire gatherings. From ‘Wine and Wisdom’ to Woman-to-Woman Learning, our ladies have enjoyed each other’s company for Torah learning and growth

With the Corona crisis and its shut-downs, all these in-person gatherings came to a screeching halt.

And then came Zoom…

After the weekly success of Project Inspire’s “The Shabbat Show” (with the beloved Charlie Harary), we in Rockland decided on a weekly Zoom meeting to take place just prior to this program.

Our weekly Zoom meetings have evolved from purely social gatherings and catching up on each other’s lives to learning and discussing the weekly parsha – Parsha Pointers.

This venue has allowed us to keep the constant connections strong and growing, even if we can’t meet in person we can still see each other, panim el panim, face to face.

–Lisa Weber, Rockland City Leader