I was blessed to be at the Ruach Israel Shabbaton last weekend, the climax being a very special Mother’s Day breakfast on Sunday when the men in our community treated us literally as queens for the day. I have been at many retreats over my life, and yet, this one was so special. All who attended were bathed in His Love through the interactions of the 80 plus attendees (excluding children I believe) and His Ruach which we felt especially at the services. A heartfelt thanks to Shayna Goldman and Vicky Nichol for their dedicated service to our community to create this opportunity to be together in such a special way.
On the gorgeous hike to a scenic overlook for Torah study on Shabbat afternoon I walked with one of the attendees who until last weekend I had only met on Zoom. As we were able to be together in person and really connect, I learned of her heartbreaking journey with her daughter who has alienated herself from her family. We had connected over our daughter stories before then, knowing bits and pieces over Zoom. Yet the ability to share together in this way so intimately, feeling the pain of missing our daughters together on this Mother’s Day weekend, brought comfort.
Being in community comforted others in this way as well as did our being together heighten the joy as we watched the many children interacting with their moms. We were reminded that the fleeting years of child raising are as a blink in retrospect, a reminder to treasure those days together when we are given the gift of raising children. We were reminded of the gift of being a daughter and at the same time, the sadness for some of us of the absence of our mothers, a reminder to others who still have their mothers to value and nurture those relationships.
On Monday, the day after the Shabbaton ended, I had to fly to NYC for work. (It’s been a soft landing from Florida. Not even really a landing yet since I’m still in New York and have not made it back to Maine yet!) When we arrived at LaGuardia there was a wait to find a gate so we stayed out on the runway for quite awhile.
Taking this opportunity to check my messages, I turned on my phone only to find a text from a very special young lady named Alice. She had visited Ruach a number of years ago and returned a couple summers back for a visit one Shabbat morning. She came up to me that day, about a year after my daughter went missing, to reintroduce herself. I must admit I didn’t remember her but she remembered me. I was struck at how much she reminded me of my daughter AnnaLisa, her demeanor, appearance, her speech patterns, even her story. There were an incredible number of parallels. She sat with me that day and I felt this was special. Yes, I felt it was a God love drop.
Since then we have kept in touch by text. Almost predictably I will receive a text from her at a time that is not just random for me – a time I might be thinking about my daughter or one with an association that reminds me of her. As I was pondering the beauty, and bittersweetness of this Mother’s Day weekend, as I turned on my phone while waiting on the tarmac, there was a photograph of Alice and a certificate of her conversion to Judaism.
I was so overjoyed for her to share this special moment with me. I looked out the window in thought and there, clearly the runway lights right in my immediate view were in the shape of a cross. It wasn’t just my eyes. I took a picture and sent it to my sister and she confirmed, the lights formed a cross, right there, an affirmation, a little God wink, a poignantly beautiful ending to one amazing Mother’s Day weekend.
We all love imperfectly. Yet mothers and fathers are put here to nurture and love their children, and days set aside to honor them for so doing are good. Parents are reminders of our Abba’s love of us, our need as His children for His caring guidance and love. As we are able to receive His love, we pour it onto our children. As we love each other, we nurture and are nurtured. As we love Him we are able to love others, building communities, such as Ruach Israel, of love.
P.S. On the theme of loving parents, I must share this information from Rabbi Jonathan Kaplan to encourage you to participate in this simcha for his and Deborah’s amazingly gifted daughter Gabriella:
From Rabbi Jonathan:
My daughter Gabriella Kaplan entered a contest through the Jewish National Fund and the World Jewish Congress in partnership with Nicole Raviv. Raviv recently recorded the Hebrew song “Kol Ha’olam kulo (gesher tsar meod)” (“Narrow Bridge”) in both Hebrew and Arabic. For the contest, vocal artists are asked to translate the song into another language and perform it. Gabriella translated the song into French and uploaded her performance to the contest website. She is competing to perform with Raviv at Israel’s 75th birthday celebration in Tel Aviv in June.
Would you please take a moment to listen to Gabriella’s performance and vote for her?
Here is the link to vote: https://jnf-wjc.us.launchpad6.com/narrow-bridge-song-contest/entry/33 They will send you a confirmation email as a part of the process.
Voting is now open and will be open only until May 20th.