On November 10th and 11th, twenty women, between the ages of twenty and seventy-five, from different backgrounds and levels of Jewish observance, came together to learn, connect and take time out for themselves at the 2018 Ladies Getaway, hosted by The Jewish Experience. Despite the weather and some last minute venue changes, it turned out to be a lovely two days in Denver.
Of the women participating, there was one who shined like a beacon of inspirational light – vibrating with positive energy that filled the room, and had us all captivated by her amazing way with words. Who was this powerhouse that inspired us all? None other than our guest speaker Yaffa Palti.
Let me tell you a little about Yaffa Palti. Yaffa grew up in Brooklyn, NY, in a neighborhood where literally everyone was Jewish. She often wondered where the people that didn’t keep kosher ate, while being surrounded by so many kosher restaurants. She grew up in a Torah observant home with nine biological siblings. If that seems like a lot, imagine ten kids, in addition to eight foster kids, running around the house. Noise, action, and drama were all just part of the everyday mix. Her family was a family of chessed, making loving kindness, and unconditional acceptance, a priority.
One thing that inspired me, being a mother and a wife, was Yaffa’s story of her parents. Yaffa’s mother was an extremely busy and resilient woman – raising a family, working, and taking care of her husband when his health started to take a turn (Yaffa’s father, of blessed memory, lived through most of his adulthood with Multiple Sclerosis). What Yaffa remembers most about her father was how strong he was in his Jewish faith – he never stopped thanking G-d for his life and he always tried to be positive and happy, a smile always on his face. Hundreds of people would come to visit him, learn with him, and pray with him even when he could no longer speak. Often, people would tell Yaffa how inspired and touched they were by her father. Maybe a part of what she does now, is because her father’s values live on through her, guiding her with the memories of how he demonstrated the way to truly live one’s life – full of gratitude and faith in G-d.
Yaffa has spent (approximately) the last 15 years reaching out to other Jewish women, from all facets of Jewish backgrounds. She spent ten years in a Jewish community in Mexico City, where she and her husband provided the support, education, and outreach needed to keep the community thriving. Over the last couple of years the geography has changed for Yaffa, her five children, and husband who now live in San Diego, California, but the goal is still the same. She continues to travel around the world speaking and lecturing on diverse topics, mostly inspirational, motivational and transformational; all profound, enlightening, unique and filled with humor and amusement.
I felt like we were all looking for something a little different at the retreat, based on our own life experiences and where we are at in our spiritual journey. It seemed as though Yaffa was able to deliver so many different messages, in so many meaningful ways, to the diverse group of women. She was easy to get along with, connect with, and had a smile that lit up her face. She talked to us about finding our true self, by discovering what our soul’s purpose is in this lifetime. We had discussions on decision making, goals, priorities, letting go, forgiveness, and how all of these are tools to help us define who we truly are as individuals – not who we think we are, based on what we think other people think of us. We danced, we ate, we did art together, we got to know one another, and we heard stories about struggles, growth and triumph from many women. Overall, it was a place to relax and be yourself, where you could be inspired by the wisdom and traditions of other Jewish women. We were happy to share this experience in Denver, in all of its snowy glory, with our out-of-town guest Yaffa Palti, and we look forward to seeing her again soon.