Branch Spotlight: Project Inspire Brooklyn

By: Fira Donin

I went with the Project Inspire Brooklyn group to Israel on the Momentum Trip in 2018. When I entered the room for our first meeting, I didn’t know anyone there; at the same time, I felt such a strong energy as if l knew these ladies from somewhere. We connected almost instantaneously. They say it’s hard to establish new friendships when you are an adult; Nonsense! We did it. From the interactions with everyone in the group, be it a Project Inspire city leader or a Project Inspire participant, I was pushed in the right direction, and felt more confident in what I do as a mother, as a Jewish woman, and as a wife.

The last 10 months in quarantine with the entire family were not easy, but every week I impatiently waited for Dubby Eisen, my learning partner, to call. Over the last two and a half years, we’ve been learning Exodus, the second book of the Torah, from two classical and two modern books of commentaries. It gives me immense intellectual pleasure to discuss theology for an hour and then to apply it to my life. In addition, with Evgenia Kagan, my friend from the trip, and Leah Lamet, one of our city leaders, we started a Tehillim weekly learning group. To simply pray and say a psalm was not enough for us. We want to know the underlying history and meaning to these powerful words.

We are truly a sisterhood and not just a bunch of random Jewish women. After the shooting in Vienna, and two days before the presidential election, feeling very anxious and worried, we organized a Zoom reading of Tehillim. We prayed for peace, unity, and civility in our country. Every week on Thursday in our group chat, I know that I will get the weekly parsha summary from our other city leader, Chane Moser. It feels so very special every Friday when I receive the warmest, “Good Shabbos” from her. In many situations, I can rely on the advice and support from our other leader, Shulamith Zakutinsky. Shulamith instinctively knows how to help, what to do, and who to talk to.

This year I have missed seeing Evelina Genchikmakher, my Israeli dance teacher, Ludmila Arbit, my intellectual but down to earth neighbour, Inna Paller my iMishpacha leader and our city leaders: Martha Hershkovich, our challah and food inspiration, Freda Levy, our source of reflective input, and Etty Poznanski, with her wisdom, excellent taste, and generosity. I haven’t mentioned everyone who is dear to me and who I immensely missed this year!   
I am creating connections not only with people from my trip but from the trips before mine and after mine; Truly everyone is so special! I don’t know how I would survive without my dear friends – my Project Inspire sisters. I miss you! I hope to see all of you very soon!

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