#Tiberius #ItStartsWithWomen

After a twelve-hour flight, without screens or outlets, we arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, joining a growing swarm of Jewish women, ready for the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP. Some were so excited, they started dancing and singing in the arrivals terminal, while others sat, with large coffees, and watched with bleary eyes. I was exhausted, hungry, and needed a shower, but none of that mattered, because I was in Israel! My great adventure was about to begin. In Tiberius.

It was a two-hour drive to Tiberius, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, and though it is named for the second emperor of Rome, and it is one of Judaism’s holy sites, tonight, the city played host to hundreds of loud and famished Jewish mothers. As the music got louder, women started bopping until every single one of us was on the floor, or jiving on the bar. Our teenage children would not have been impressed. A lot of eye rolling, I’m sure.

But we were following orders, sort of. Before venturing out for dinner, we listened to a couple of speakers explain the best way to get the most out of our JWRP experience. First, we were told to be present, to forget about home and our responsibilities while we’re here, to take this as a gift to ourselves. Second, be open to learning new things, to meeting new people, to letting ourselves be ourselves. And to share these profound words: #ItStartsWithWomen

“We need to charge our batteries here,” said Nili Couzens, in a rousing speech. “Because nobody else will. Israel is the charging station of the Jewish soul. Need to know what charges your battery? Wisdom helps you charge your battery.”

All right, so maybe there wasn’t a lot of wisdom floating around the sea while we danced, but we were letting go, enjoying the moment, and eager to open ourselves up to all the new experiences we’re bound to have this week. And when fireworks exploded above the Sea of Galilee, lighting up the sky like millions of candles, the loud roars of approval from all of us made it pretty clear that we’re ready and willing for whatever this journey brings.

About the Author
Shelly Sanders is the Canadian author of the award winning Rachel Trilogy (Second Story Press), inspired by her grandmother's escape from a Russian pogrom. She is a Jewish Book Council Author, and has toured Canada and the U.S. with her books. Shelly was also a journalist for 20 years, with articles in the Toronto Star, Maclean's magazine, Canadian Living, and Reader's Digest. She is represented by Amy Tipton, Signature Lit, and is currently working on a novel about Rumbula, where some of her ancestors were killed.
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