Fears, Dreams and the Chassidish Women of Boro Park
It was just another evening and I was scrolling through FaceBook, most likely distracting myself from the work I should have been doing when I came across a post from Rivka Malka Perlman regarding her upcoming Redemption Mini-Retreat and I realized that I was going to be in New York at the same time as the event.
I was actively seeking to collaborate with and reach as many women as possible while on the east coast for my cousin’s wedding, so I reached out to her to see if there was some way that I could offer my voice in a way that would benefit her audience.
When Rivka Malka warmly and excitedly welcomed the idea, I had no idea that I was in for a treat far greater than I could have anticipated.
Fears and Dreams
The theme of the day was Fears and Dreams. Well, more specifically, acknowledging and giving name to our fears so that we can then work through them to pursue our dreams.
So often we allow our fears to hold us back from accomplishing what we really want to accomplish without us even realizing it.
Rivka Malka started the day by doing an incredible job of breaking down the illusion of fear and showing us how much power we give to the ideas that hold us back, and I’m going to let her do the same for you when you attend one of her retreats!
We then did a group exercise that I had the opportunity to participate in. And it was then that I understood why Rivka Malka felt it was so important for me to stick around once I speak.
I’m a huge Tony Robbins fan and have been for years. In high school I read his books, spent many late nights watching video clips of his events and learned so much about myself and relationships from his work. I’ve always dreamed of attending a live event and it’s actually on my bucket list.
But to be honest, I think this Redemption mini-retreat came pretty close to that for me. And with a group of frum women, no less!
I knew that the event was going to be held in Boro Park and I knew there would be chassidish women there. I’m super passionate about my Judaism and feel very strongly that all Jews are connected. But…
When it comes to the Chassidic community, I’ve always felt that there’s still me and them. Yes, we have the same Torah, the same laws and the same singular focus of creating a kiddush Hashem in this world, but the way we express it is so very different.
I admit it. There are often times when I’m perfectly comfortable accepting those who are different than me – more modern, not religious at all, secular, etc. – but I find myself putting up walls when it comes to those perhaps more right-wing than I am.
Perhaps I think they “don’t get me” or that they judge me. That because their lives are so different than mine, they can’t possibly understand the world the way I do and our interactions would be awkward and uncomfortable.
But my experience that day proved to me how wrong I was.
We began by sitting in a circle facing one another. Rivka Malka led us through a series of exercises in which we got to know the women in the room in an intimate way. Through maintaining eye contact and sharing our personal fears and dreams, we quickly connected in a way I would never imagined was possible.
In a room full of strong, independent, thinking women, I realized that we are far more alike than I expected. We have similar fears and dreams, similar setbacks and aspirations, similar struggles and desires.
I went from feeling distant and apart to feeling accepted and understood within moments.
And when that happened, I knew that what I had to share is something that would resonate with the others.
Am I Fearless?
Following the above exercise, I was given the platform to share my story. I opened with sharing my personal experience with pursuing weight loss from a very young age to discovering the joy of fitness, independent of body size.
And then it was time to talk about the theme of the day…
The funny thing is, when Rivka Malka first told me what it was, I felt stuck. Speaking about dreams is something that I can do in my sleep, but how could I talk about fears if I don’t have any?
On the flip side, if the theme of the day is fears and dreams, how could I be the only person in the room who doesn’t have any?
Turns out… I’ve got ‘em!
I’ve just learned to recognize the gift of life as the motivation for working through my fears and pursuing my dreams regardless with the knowledge that G-d gave me back my soul this morning because I have a mission to serve and a purpose to fulfill that can’t be achieved by anyone other than me.
My Dream Partner
After my talk, Rivka Malka did some coaching with a volunteer up on stage that I obviously will not share about here (privacy promise and all that), but suffice it to say… the Tony Robbins fan in me was really excited about the set up – and the results, both for the woman being coaches and the rest of us watching.
We were then guided to work through our own fears – verbalizing them, writing about them, and yes, even drawing them – and discuss how our fears were getting in the way of us pursuing our dreams. We did this exercise in partners and of all possibilities, my partner is a Chassidish woman who actually owns a fitness brand too! She manufactures fitness accessories and as it turns out, our work dreams and goals are aligned with each other’s and chatting with her was pretty cool.
Not only that, but we were encouraged to exchange numbers and keep in touch!
All in all, for not knowing what to expect when I first reached out to Rivka Malka, I walked away with a newfound knowledge and appreciation of an audience I didn’t know what to expect of and I was forced to confront my fear-induced procrastination and finally address it head on. It’s still a work in progress, but… hey, at least it’s in progress!
This blog post barely expresses how grateful I am for being a part of the wonderful work that Rivka Malka does and for the incredible experience she offers, but I highly recommend you check her out and consider attending a mini-retreat or full retreat if possible. Tell her I sent you 😉 .