The New Year got off to a sunny start for Emet Outreach’s Women’s Division. After a rewarding semester as students in Emet’s “Step In” and “Step It Up” programs, it was time for 16 young ladies to enjoy a much-deserved winter break. While it can be daunting to plan a vacation for girls ages 18-21 that comprises both Torah learning and exciting activities, that’s exactly what Emet achieved. Led by Ms. Shira Fendel, Emet Women’s Director, the six-day trip featured a packed schedule of motivational speakers, impactful religious experiences, scenic excursions, luxurious accommodations, and of course, the opportunity for meaningful friendship.
“This is the ninth year of ‘Emet Goes Miami.’ Each year, this trip gives our students the chance to see that you can have a great, fun vacation while simultaneously living a Torah way of life. We were so fortunate to have an incredible group of girls with an amazing energy and excitement for Judaism,” said Ms. Fendel. “We hope that, b’ezras Hashem, this experience will jump-start their personal Jewish journeys. Many of them shared their renewed commitment to plugging more Judaism into their daily lives.”
Here Is An ‘Insider’s’ Perspective And Trip Highlights From Yael Abramov, A Student At Adelphi University
I came on the Miami trip without knowing anyone, but I left with so many new friends. Shira Fendel inspired us by saying, “Meet as strangers, leave as family,” and that set the tone for this trip. Our itinerary was thoroughly planned and was a wonderful balance of incredible speakers and amazing activities. Emet rented a beautiful and huge house that looked like it was out of a movie, and it allowed us to live like princesses.
Our experience began on Thursday, January 2, with a challah bake. We headed to the Sussman home in Bal Harbour, directly from the airport. Chavi Bryng, a well-known baker in the North Miami community, was there to instruct us. This was an especially meaningful and spiritual start. I felt like Hashem was answering my subconscious prayers, since I usually bake challah at home and was worried about missing a week while I was away.
On Friday, we had the privilege to hear an inspiring shiur from Rabbi Ephraim Eliyahu Shapiro of Congregation Shaaray Tefilah of North Miami Beach. Rabbi Shapiro taught us that our heart is not for us, but for the people around us. He encouraged us to give our hearts to someone with all our strength. The day continued with jet boating and banana boating, which were definitely invigorating experiences. After a pizza lunch and visits to the beach or boardwalk, it was time to prepare for Shabbos.
Shabbos gave us the opportunity to learn more about each other, and the quality time together is when we started forming our “family.” We welcomed in Shabbos together, singing together in the beautiful backyard. We learned new songs that I’ve never known before and sang them like no one was watching. “Baruch Hashem, baruch Hashem” was in my head for the entire trip, and I would randomly start singing those lyrics. We had a chance to go around the table over Shabbos as each of the girls shared a piece of her neshamah, sharing her spiritual goals and aspirations. Shabbos came to a close with a beautiful musical Havdalah with Sara Florans. The absolute highlight of my trip came right after Havdalah, with an incredible lecture by Adina Stillerman on relationships. It was just WOW! She knew how to connect with us and understood the problems we were facing and that definitely spoke to me.
Sunday morning included a lecture by Rabbi Daniel Wolnerman and a workshop by Mrs. Chani Kramer. After a poolside lunch, we spent the afternoon exploring the Miami streets on Segways, and little mini-coupe cars. I have never seen 18-to-21-year-olds so happy and excited for anything. Dinner was at Backyard BBQ and then we went to the Museum of Illusions.
On Monday morning, we went to Tasti Cafe for a nice breakfast, and then Mrs. Yaffa Palti spoke to us about “Living on Purpose.” We then went horseback riding, many of us for the first time ever, which was my favorite activity of the trip.
Last but not least, Tuesday brought us to Disney World! As an almost 20-year-old, I’m proud to say that my first time at Disney was with Emet. Seeing the Disney Castle was a nod to my childhood. At the end of the day, when it was time for the fireworks show, I actually teared up because of the images playing on the castle. We came back from Disney, tired but happy. We then had an amazing lecture by Mrs. Shifra Yachnes on how to bring our inspiration back home with us. We went around the group, and each girl shared a moment from the trip when she felt Hashem’s love.
I want to express my deepest gratitude to Rabbi Rutenberg, Rabbi Kraft, and all of the sponsors at Emet for one of the most amazing and inspiring trips I have ever experienced. Thank you to the teachers at Emet for being so open and generous with me and all of your students, and for believing in all of our potential to grow in our Judaism – which I have, without question.
I’m so grateful to Shira Fendel and the madrichos for their caring, energy, and everything they did for us over the week. Emet is truly a one-of-a-kind organization, and this was an eye-opening experience I’ll never forget.
For further information on Emet programs and upcoming events, visit www.emetoutreach.org.