Nishmah to hold Passover celebration event

BY JILL KASSANDER, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

There was an amazing response last year to Nishmah: the St. Louis Jewish Women’s Project’s first “Women’s Seder Experience”. it sold out three weeks after the invitations were sent out. The event attracted 500 Jewish women of all ages from throughout the St. Louis Jewish community. This year the excitement generated from that seminal event continues with “Join the Journey…A Nishmah Passover” on Sunday, Mar. 25 at the Crown Plaza in Clayton.

Though the event is a little over a month away there are many opportunities for the community to part of this year’s experience beginning this month. A kumsitz (get-together) is being held on Sunday, Feb. 25 from 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Congregation Shaare Emeth.

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Participants will have an opportunity to engage and learn music with gifted local musicians and join in the excitement preparing for the upcoming Passover celebration, said Nishmah executive director Ronit Sherwin.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the really great musicians and song leaders in our community,” Sherwin said. “It is always nice to have guest artists however people will see our community can provide its own energy as well.”

Sherwin said everyone can expect to see lots of ruach (spirit) at the kumsitz. Participating musicians include: Adina Frydman, Barry Glantz, Lisa Greenstein, Sharon Nathanson and Carol Rubin. Children are welcome and participants are encouraged to come and sing or just to listen and enjoy.

This year’s pre-Passover program is designed around the many comments, suggestions and experiences from last year’s event. Last year the organization had no idea what to expect from their first Passover event. The incredible response was very moving according to Sima Oberlander who is co-chairing the event this year along with Sue Fischlowitz.

“We recognized we wanted to keep the program fresh and not repeat what we did last year,” Oberlander said.

Several comments from last year’s participants noted the program ended just before the maggid — the telling of the story.

It seemed the perfect place to begin this year’s program with a slight twist. The program will connect the historical messages of the symbols of Passover and their modern relevance by weaving in stories of St. Louis Jewish women throughout the program.

Those stories are being sought after through a call for women’s stories (see sidebar below). The stories will be collected and made into a booklet and presented to people attending the program.

“We wanted to capture and create an experience which reflects the diverse and extraordinary qualities of Jewish women and girls in our community,” Rubin said who wrote this year’s program.

Additional highlights this year will include the doors opening earlier to allow more time for the participants to mingle and more shopping time in the Marketplace.

The Marketplace features Passover items and other Judaica from local shops and craftspeople. There is also a social awareness component this year which will provide an opportunity for participants to learn about and raise awareness of organization’s that help women and families in St. Louis. The featured music will be provided by Yachad — the Traveling Tefillah Band.

Often women find themselves pulled in so many directions as they prepare for Passover noted Rubin. This pre-Passover event is designed to allow women to take a break from the planning to reflect on the meaning of the holiday.

“Through the unique stories of women in our community we will learn where we’ve been, who we are and where we are going and provide a lens through which we see the world,” Rubin said.

Tickets are now available for “Join the Journey…a Nishmah Passover” being held on Sunday, Mar. 25 at the Crowne Plaza in Clayton from 3 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

The cost is $50 for each guest with student and senior rates available upon request. For more information contact Ronit Sherwin at 314-862-2777.

Group seeks women’s stories

Girls and women throughout the St. Louis Jewish community are invited and encouraged to tell their own stories for inclusion in the booklet for the Mar. 25 Nishmah event. The story is to address one of the following themes: how a woman or girl had a positive influence in your life; a story involving “wisdom, essence of the soul, unity/community, sweetness, bitterness, hope, wholeness, freedom or faith” or a story of a Passover memory.

Women may only submit one story. It must be an unpublished, original work of 200 words of less. Submissions must include the author’s first and last name, phone number and e-mail address on the top left-hand margin of the page. Submissions must be sent as word documents only via e-mail to: [email protected] Please put My Story in the subject line. Deadline for submissions is Monday, Mar. 5.