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JWRP impacts mom from Kansas City in unexpected way

Those taking part in this year’s trip to Israeli included Kim Matsil (from left), Renee Polsky Silver, Adina Glass, Addie Harte, Rhea Nadler, Jennifer Schlozman, Vanessa Lehman and Andrea Levitan.

On June 26, the Kansas City Kollel sent its sixth group of women to participate in the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project in Israel. I was one of them.

Before I left for Israel, I read something that stood out to me. You can go to Israel as many times as you’d like, but you can only go for the first time once. This resonated with me. As I packed, it hit me. I was finally experiencing what I’ve only read about in classes.

For two years now, Andrea Levitan has wanted me to be a part of the Kansas City Kollel JWRP group. I kept her interest to myself, thinking this group is not for me. I am not a religious woman, nor do I feel I’d fit in. My entire life I have wanted more from my Judaism, but I didn’t know exactly what that meant. I never felt as though I belonged, as though I was Jewish enough. 

Israel taught me more than I could’ve learned in a book. The tours were educational and intriguing. I learned so much about the beautiful land that I’ve always questioned. The sites were exhilarating, breathtaking and enchanting. I felt safe, and in love. But most important was that I felt at home. JWRP helped me understand that I wasn’t less of a Jew because I questioned things within my faith. Between lectures and sister discussions, I learned I was chasing something that never existed. There is no definition of the perfect Jew. In fact, I found that my Judaism is just as valid as the woman covered in modesty I brushed shoulders with in the Old City. I found validity in every city, during every lecture and in every meal.

Being in Tiberias encouraged me to smile more and think of the next to do less. My time in Tsfat taught me to appreciate my own identity and find value in my own self-worth. Masada taught me to embrace my strength and allow that to be my focus rather than my fears. Yad Vashem taught me to value the day-to-day, worry less and play more. And Jerusalem, oh the beautiful Old City — you taught me to look past the near and broaden my eyesight to the horizon. There is always a bigger picture. There will always be dishes, there will always be laundry, and the shoes may not be on the holder. However, Jerusalem reminded me that although I can’t do it all, I do not have to. JWRP welcomed me and held my hand, showing me that other people can do it too, and it’s OK to let them.” 

For information on the 2018 JWRP trip to Israel, contact Andrea Levitan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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