A beautiful letter we’ve recently received.
Dear Dasi and Devirah,
Camaraderie? Women’s song? I have been searching for the words to describe the experience that I felt and lived at the Oorah Women’s Retreat. There are times in the continuum of this experience that we call life; moments that somehow stand apart from the others; remarkable moments that are etched into the timeline of each life. This Oorah TorahMates Retreat was one of those moments for me.
I am so grateful to Oorah for gifting me those miraculous four days at TheZone. One week, two weeks, three weeks later I am still in a glowing sort of ethereal emotional state that is hard to describe. What made these days so special?
Giving credit to the amazing organizers of the event, Dasi and Devirah, for the smooth transitions from event to event; for your thoughtful planning in including lots of recreation, great food and learning time. For me, I have to say that what impacted me the most was the friendship that was offered by all. The caring expressed by the women that I met from Borough Park, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Monsey and Lakewood.
The suite I shared with two other women had ten beds. The open floor plan suited us as we each found an area to occupy without infringing on the other’s personal space. I was lucky to be with pleasant individuals who offered conversation and friendship. I correct myself now and I think—- lucky? There was absolutely no luck involved in this event.
Luck cannot begin to describe how we all came to be at this event. We are all off searching for something. The Torah Mates- teachers and students- I believe are all seekers. The new learners are seekers of knowledge, and a way to retrieve what may have been lost to us. We are seeking connections with our lost cultural heritage, our culture, our Yiddishkeit but most importantly a way to speak to Hashem.
The beauty of our collective voice was so uplifting. Hearing our women’s voices raised in song I thought, “This is the most beautiful prayer I have ever heard.” How liberating to be able to sing openly with heart and soul to Hashem.
Walking around The Zone campus a woman looked at my name tag and she said, “My family knew your family in Warsaw.” And so began a conversation of —do you know so and so? And yes, my family did know hers in Warsaw. Now she and I meet in upstate New York. Was it a coincidence that we met at this Retreat?
Our family structures, in many cases, are still trying to recover from the disintegration caused by the Holocaust. We may be one or two generations removed from the events themselves but we are still living proof of the aftermath of the devastation that was caused by this horrific event.
The pain our grandparents and parents felt is still very real and it lives on in us. Yes. We are Children of the Holocaust. Our lives are forever changed by those events. The neighbors from Mila 18 are neighbors no more. The Pesach koshering pots in the middle of the courtyards are gone as are the potato carts that the children chased to bring some food home for dinner.
Thanks to my learning partners I am developing a new understanding about Rabbinical Law. I have a growing respect for the vision of the Rabbis in creating the laws that forced our ancestors to daven in a minyan thus creating a community. Community is one of the great strengths of our Jewish Nation. Over seventy years have passed since my Dad left Warsaw and here I come to upstate NY to meet a woman whose family knew my family back then.
I could write much more on this topic but I will end with my most heartfelt thanks to Oorah for planning and hosting this women’s retreat. It will be my pleasure to return on another occasion to fly the zip line, eat good food, learn and make new friends.