“Every person that you meet has a piece of your soul that is missing. You have something to get from that person and to give to that person. It’s not coincidence that you met them. When you are open to that, you can infinitely grow.”
That is what Batsheva Gelbtuch, co-director of Jewish Women’s Connection of Atlanta, said is an essential ingredient in JWC Atlanta: women connecting and growing together.
“There is a lot of love within JWC Atlanta,” she said.
Gelbtuch and co-director Julie Silverman said the real mission is to change the world through women because if you affect the woman, you affect her family, then the community.
“The Jewish woman innately realizes that she is the anchor and the one who drives the family in terms of spiritual growth,” Silverman said.
JWC Atlanta was started three years ago by a group of women who had traveled on one of the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project trips to Israel that the Atlanta Scholars Kollel women’s division had participated in since 2009.
“When the women get to participate in that kind of experience, they really feel so connected to one another. … It’s not just about a fun trip to Israel for a week. It’s about beginning a meaningful journey,” Silverman said. “We want to share this whole dynamic with any Jewish women in Atlanta.”
JWC Atlanta’s Facebook group has more than 1,200 members.
“It’s an organization which was created by women for women to keep that connection going,” Silverman said of JWC Atlanta, which operates under the kollel umbrella.
Carlla Goldstein was on the founding board, and JWC Atlanta’s annual kickoff event will be held at her home Sunday, Aug. 27.
“When you’re looking for something else in your life, or there is something little missing, it gives you that missing piece to inspire you and make you a better person, and then it comes back to your family,” Goldstein said.
Lori Spett, who is co-chairing the kickoff event and going on the JWRP Israel trip in November, agreed.
“It is helping me be a better person for myself,” she said, “but also for my kids, my husband and my friends. … That’s their message, and I’ve gotten that really.”
Spett likes that JWC Atlanta offers many ways to get involved: lunch-and-learns, evening classes, events throughout the year, and one of her favorites, Mamas in Pajamas, in which women call in on Monday evenings to participate in 30-minute interactive classes.
“I just think there is something for everyone, and it’s an open-arms kind of situation,” she said. “People should feel comfortable walking into any of the events and getting something out of it.”
JWC Atlanta, through a recent partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, now offers two subsidized JWRP trips to Israel each year, has an annual Shabbaton and the kickoff event, in addition to weekly classes on a variety of topics.
“We’re trying to create all different types of opportunities to deepen your spiritual connection,” Silverman said.
Goldstein said the kickoff is her favorite event of the year.
“It sets the momentum and tone and the energy for the whole year,” she said. “There is just so much excitement, and we always say there is just such positive energy in the room.”
Raquel Kirszenbaum, a JWRP trip leader, will speak on the topic “#behappy: Some pursue happiness, others create it.” Tapas and sangria, inspired by Kirszenbaum’s Latin American heritage, will be served.
“Hopefully, we can all come away with something to bring more happiness into our lives, to our families and then to the community,” Goldstein said.
Spett, who grew up in Atlanta, loves that she can go to a JWC event and see many people she doesn’t know. She hopes the kickoff will be another opportunity to meet new people and see old friends.
“Bring your mother, bring your neighbors, bring your aunt. Bring anyone who might get something out of this program,” she said. “It’s such a welcoming group of women who all they want is to engage others and help other people get involved.”
“It doesn’t matter what your personal beliefs are,” Goldstein said. “We are very inclusive.”
“It’s such a diverse group of people, from such different backgrounds,” she said. “We have so much more that unites us than that divides us.”
The hope is that JWC Atlanta will “be a place that every Jewish woman in Atlanta feels empowered to write her own Jewish story, whatever that means to her, and find a community of loving and supporting sisters that are there to support her on her journey,” Gelbtuch said.
The kickoff Aug. 27 is the place to start.
“Every Jewish woman in Atlanta should come and join us,” she said. “It’s a sisterhood without boundaries.”
Who: Raquel Kirszenbaum
What: JWCA annual kickoff
Where: 4889 Northland Drive, Sandy Springs
When: 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27
Admission: $18 in advance or $25 at the door; www.jwcatlanta.org