Photos: Levi Percia
While Linda Schwartz was planning her daughter Meirah’s Bat Mitzvah party, she was moved to honor the 70th Yahrzeit of Anne Frank. She wanted to pay tribute to a girl who spent a good part of her childhood hiding in an attic and who wrote in her diary about her hopes and dreams for a better world.
Linda felt that the finest way to honor those who lost their lives is to stop and pay attention to those who are doing their best to save others and who are illuminating the world with their good deeds.
Linda sponsored and arranged a tribute concert for women and girls at Chabad of Irvine, CA. The celebration honored 6 remarkable teen girls with the Shining Light Award and launched the new website for Jewish Girls Unite, a global community inspiring girls to be shining lights.
Linda quoted Anne Frank to the crowd of 180 women and girls, “How wonderful is it that nobody needs to wait a moment before starting to improve the world. We have hope and faith in the amazing young women today that even in a time of darkness, they will continue to spread light.”
Nechama Laber, founder of Jewish Girls Unite, welcomed everyone to the JGU global community connecting Jewish girls. She asked everyone to close their eyes and imagine themselves as a candle.
“When one candle lights another it gives power to light another and everyone benefits from more light. Think of one thing you can do today to brighten up the world. The Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged young girls to light Shabbos candles because his broader message was that one is never too young to add light to the world. Please give yourself permission today to shine your inner light because everyone is a shining light”,.
“Imagine if Anne Frank would not have been locked away in an attic, how much more she could have accomplished? Even a dim candle adds so much light in a dark room. We hope that girls will think, what can I do today to be a shining light?” said Hilary Buff, Shine Your Light coordinator.
Inspirational singer, Rivka Leah Cylich – Velkovitch, composer of the new JGU theme song called “Shine Your Inner Light” inspired the audience through song.
Hillary, Linda and Nechama presented awards to Katja Davis, Liora Wolder, Cara Wolder, Jessica Wolder, Matana Zwiren, Mashie Marcus and Dani Blieden for being shining lights from the following organizations: Friendship Circle, Hebrew Academy, NCSY, TVT, Cteen and University Synagogue.
This event is the beginning of a movement to empower girls to become the candle lighters of the world. “This is a good prototype to use for other States,” said Jenny Kdoshim, event planner.
The new Jewish Girls Unite website was designed by Leah Caras, founder of Yaldah magazine, which has joined forces with JGU. The Jewish Girls Unite Global community features exciting online events, classes, contests, information and highlights on the Jewish Girls Winter and Summer Retreats, blogs, inspiration, a unity forum, and more.
The next virtual celebration is this Sunday at 8 PM ET and will highlight Miriam of the past and a Miriam today. Girls can download the newly released song at www.jewishgirlsunite.com once they register as a JGU member.
Register for the Jewish Girls Summer Retreat at jewishgirlsretreat.com