The incredible journey of Spark, celebrating Israel’s 75th anniversary, just got even more exciting. This unforgettable series of events starts at home—groups will be learning and growing, together, in the Greater Boston area, with an optional trip to Israel available. Spark is split into two different experiences—family and community—but now there is a special cohort in the community trip—women only! This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity brings women together for an immersion into spiritualty and community, led by Layah Lipsker.
A Jewish educator and spiritual coach, Layah Lipsker is the perfect person to lead Spark’s women-only cohort. For three decades, she’s been sharing Jewish wisdom through text study in Biblical literature and Midrash, through the lens of Kaballah.
A research associate at the Hadassah Brandeis Institute, Layah is passionate about issues related to religion and gender. She serves as scholar in residence for spiritual retreats, trips to Israel, and lectures widely, but she’s also an incredibly kind and approachable person.
As such a highly sought-after and knowledgeable leader, Spark was thrilled to enlist her to guide women through this experience. Get acquainted with Layah and find out what kind of journey you might embark on with her.
What drew you to Spark; why did you want to be a part of this journey?
Israel turning 75 is just so exciting, and going with community feels like the right way to celebrate that milestone.
I also like that Spark has included a learning component. I’ve done trips with CJP and others before, and I feel that the learning component really stays with people. I was drawn to the idea of the magic of Israel combined with the depth of study. That’s what makes these trips lifechanging. It’s like an electric combination. It all just comes together at once—the energy of the land and the community piece of learning with others. And the spiritual teachings, in particular, can spur some personal growth. A perfect combination.
In addition to this being a celebration of the 75th anniversary of Israel, what makes this experience so special?
The camaraderie of women. I like that I’m leading a cohort of women. There’s a certain warmth and friendship that exists when women travel together that’s very special and can’t be replicated.
As a spiritual teacher, how did your first experience of Israel affect you—physically, spiritually, emotionally?
Israel, for me, is the seat of a lot of passion and creativity for our nation, so when I go, I plug into a certain vibrancy and a certain aliveness. You just feel like you are living a more intense, purposeful, and more raw day-to-day experience there. You can’t just exist in Israel—the county doesn’t allow you to do that. You have to have an opinion and you have to engage. The nature of the people and the struggle forces an engagement and, for me, that’s exciting and invigorating. You can’t match the experience.
What do you hope the women you lead will take away from this entire experience?
I hope this creates a pathway to allow Judaism to really be meaningful and impactful in one’s day-to-day personal spiritual journey.
Everyone is trying to figure out how to live a more engaged, more soulful life and to focus on what matters in a chaotic world. Judaism offers us these tools, but Kabbalah is a little deeper. I do a lot of teaching of Kabbalah—it’s the Jewish wisdom that lies underneath the ritual and the texts. And you have to peel off the layers of ritual to find it. I hope to impart that before we leave and on the trip. I hope every day we have time together to connect what we see with our personal experiences with Judaism and what’s going on in the lives of women. Women do that especially well—it’s innate for women.
A lot of the women who have signed up may be going through a transitional phase of their lives. Transitions are complicated, they’re about letting go and recreating yourself. And the act of recreation is a courageous act and I’m hoping we can draw strength from each other and recognize that Judaism has a lot to offer to us to use in transitioning to another stage of life. We just need to know how to look and where to look.
What’s the best thing you could use to enrich this experience?
A journal. I’m a very big journaler and I will do a dedicated journal for this.
On Thursday, Nov. 3, explore the camaraderie of other women and the spiritual teachings of Layah through a very special CJP Women’s Philanthropy Spark experience. And don’t forget your journal.