A Spark of Simcha (Joy)

Rachel Herman11.10.23
“This is the best one yet!” I kept hearing throughout Jewish Women’s Getaway Retreat (JWG) this past week, and I have to agree. It was an incredible 4 days filled with deep conversations, laughter, tears, learning, connection and simcha (joy), which was this year’s theme

While each JWG has a theme like brachot (blessings), yisod (foundation) and arevut (mutual responsibility), this year’s turned out to be exactly what we as a collective needed. Ironically, we chose this theme months ago. Even before October 7, we understood that women need more joy in their day-to-day lives.

Grappling with joy during such a challenging time led us into deep conversations and powerful moments, as simcha is a concept that plays a deep role within Jewish life and practice in relationship to ourselves and our spiritual and interpersonal relationships. As Jews, we are taught that life is filled with the duality of knowing pain or loss while also allowing ourselves the goodness and beauty that brings us simcha. And that is exactly what we did. As a kehillah (community), we found little sparks of simcha in everyday moments. We found joy when we learned Torah and when we prayed and sang together. We found joy in nature and our breathtaking surroundings. We found joy creating beautiful works of art from sculpture to jewelry to writing stories and songs. We found joy in campy activities like tie-dye, climbing, archery and canoeing, skipping around the room during birthday celebrations and eating s’mores around the campfire. We found joy in supporting one another, including mothers of lone soldiers, when thinking about the challenges and struggles facing our families and the world right now. We found joy when we sang Am Yisrael Chai and danced around the Chadar Ochel (Dining Hall) together on the last morning.

Rachel (bottom left) with some of her Ramah Darom crew members at the JWG Barbie Q

The goal of Jewish Women’s Getaway is to offer its participants an unforgettable experience and an opportunity to explore their unique Jewish journey. I think we did just that, and this year truly was “the best one yet.”

To those who have wondered if it’s worth it, the answer is YES. So save the date for Jewish Women’s Getaway 2024, November 10-13. And thank you to all those whom I was privileged to spend this past week experiencing all the contrasts in our lives. May the simcha we sparked stay with us and may we all remember to allow ourselves moments of joy even in the darkest days.

Click here to learn more about Jewish Women’s Getaway at Ramah Darom.