The [JGR] Jewish Girls Winter Leadership Retreat 2017, under the direction of Rabbi Avraham and Nechama Laber, expressed the theme: “Voices in Harmony”.
Jewish girls ages 8-16 from across the USA joined together for three days, filled with song, dance, unity, creativity and inspiration, in Albany, NY.
The wonderful staff included Riki Winner, Chaya Mushkah Lezak as Head Counselors; Susan Axerlod, Leadership Coach; Ahuvah Coates, Art Coach; Kitchen Staff, Binyomin and Gitta Gammal, Dina Guige and Devorah Ryder and Counselors: Chaya Shishler, Brocho Steinmetz, Shaindy Shepherd, Chana Seper, Shterny Elewitz, Tonya Shmukler, Sarale Geizinsky, Rochie Ehrentrau and Chaya Greenberg. Participants absorbed powerful lessons, primarily through song as well as a talent show, leadership workshops, sports and ice skating. Leah Caras, founder of YALDAH Magazine, at the age of 12, inspired the girls and spoke about the power of youth. The new soon to be released JGR Movie from Summer 2017: “At the Breaking Point” was enjoyed by staff and campers alike.
Each participant received the draft of the upcoming songbook, called “Voices in Harmony” to be published by the Jewish Girls Unite Press with over 100 pages of favorite and original JGR camp songs, as well as popular songs by Jewish artists. The Retreat opened with a beautiful Kumzitz expressing unity and friendship with singer, Chaviva Tarlow and girls singing along with the songbook in hand.
Every morning, campers and staff prepared for prayer by singing songs that expressed the meaning of prayer and sang to the melodies composed by Chanale Fellig, Tzivia Kay, Nechama Cohen and Miracles by Dovid Pearlman. “I loved Davening with the songs that inspired my connection to Hashem,” said Shoshi from CT. The gift of song, a song by Sheira Brayer expressed the idea that song is a gift one will never outgrow and Chaviva encouraged everyone to keep singing when they go home and pass it on to the next generation.
“In Harmony”, a favorite by 8th Day was a hit. Everyone sang, “Life is so much better with Harmony together,” and the unity was palpable. Songs about unity and friendship by Shaindel Antelis, Rebbetzin Tap, Mordechai Shapiro, Mordechai Ben David, Avraham Fried, Benny Friedman and others brought everyone together. The role of Jewish women was expressed through singing original songs composed by Racheli Jacks, Rivka Leah Cylich and JGR staff throughout the years.
The counselors taught the meaning of their favorite Niggunim at a soulful workshop. A cake decorating contest expressed each bunk’s favorite song. Groups presented their cakes to the judges and broke out in joyous signing and dancing. At night, girls sang together from the soon to be published songbook lulling everyone to sleep with the sound of soothing and calming melodies.
Counselors Sarahle and Chaya shared at our closing candle lighting ceremony
“Our souls are so fully expressed through singing and dancing at JGR. I love how we spontaneously broke out in song and dance.”
Camper Raizel M. from Wisconsin said: “The singing was awesome”!
“I loved how we were always singing together,” said Chana M. from Florida.
The final version of the songbook will include links to the soundtracks, song dedications and tributes, as well as art work. It will be professionally designed by Leah Caras of Carasmatic Design [formerly Yaldah Magazine].
You can support our Jewish girls worldwide and honor a loved one with a tribute in the Voices in Harmony Songbook Publication. Tributes are due by Jan 31.
Enjoy this two part Journal blog by Tzipporah Prottas, a JGU Teen from CT. describing her experience at the Winter Leadership Retreat 2017.
Registration for the Summer Retreat in July is open at www.JewishGirlsRetreat.com
For more information go to www.JewishGirlsUnite.com to learn more about JGU: a global community for Jewish girls that offers online programs, contests, school broadcasts and resources to empower Jewish girls of all backgrounds