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Whew!! Where did the days fly? From fun activities to trips and surprises and so much more, we really had a blast as this JGU leadership retreat whizzed past ;) Let’s have a flashback to remember all the awesome things we experienced!

Day 1:

As soon as we arrived at the new home away from home for Jewish girls, we were warmly welcomed with a hug from Mrs. Nechama Laber and staff who made us feel at home. Music was playing as we met our awesome counselors who led us to the really cool activities we had like bracelet designing, flower centerpieces, and tile painting. Then we had a yummy lunch prepared by Shaina and Raizel Laber where we were introduced to the theme of our Leadership Retreat: Creating Pearls in our challenges. Nechama clearly expressed this to us by sharing her incredible story of the struggle to find a suitable home for JGR and after many years she emerged with this pearl, a beautiful property, which enabled us to participate in this amazing Retreat. We also learned JGU songs that connected to our theme and played a Get to Know You game lead by Shaina Goldstein. Shabbos prep included a trip to…Walmart;) Where we bought treats connected to the Parsha. After Shabbos candle lighting, we sang and had a discussion about how we can spread more light. We joined our voices in unity for a beautiful Kabbalat Shabbat davening.


We sat down to a gourmet Shabbos meal prepared by our dedicated kitchen staff, Shaina, Raizel, and Mushky Yomtovyan and campers who shared their cooking talent. After finishing the delicious dessert, Yehudis lead a really fun game. We were given two random objects to use to share how we can find the pearl in a negative situation. That was when we were introduced to the famous Mrs. Ricefish and Mrs. Hannigan (LOL) who demonstrated together with the awesome BBM girls how we revealed the positivity in our irritation. After a good laugh, we had a heartfelt Farbrengen led by Mrs. Nechama Laber where we shared our personal struggles of revealing the pearls in our challenges.


Day 2: Yay! Shabbosssss!!

We woke up to a delicious breakfast with Cheesecake (YUM!) where the older lamplighters had a really cool learning session with Mrs. Laber about coals and… you got it!! Pearls! While the BBM’rs learned Chitas together. After having a beautiful davening, we had a delicious Shabbos lunch where Rabbi Laber shared with us an engaging story which we actively participated in through acting it out. After more yummy dessert we went on a Shabbos walk to 
discover the beautiful scenery surrounding our retreat lodgings. After a short rest hour where we played fun card games, we enjoyed a Shabbos party with some tasty treats and presented our objects from Walmart and concluded with a fun game run by Batsheva.Then we davened Mincha and played a really cool type of broken telephone, followed by Havdalah. Then we had an awesome surprise – painting pearls with guest artist Chana Cotter! While watching videos of people who found their OWN pearls in hard life situations and discovering how an oyster forms a pearl from an irritation that invades its shell. After painting our shell and forming our pearl, we enjoyed fresh homemade…”eat a lotta eat allots eat a lotta… pizza! ( Made by our professional chefs, Raizel and Shaina) After a super fun Melave Malka around the fireplace, we called it a night to refuel for the next day filled with inspiration and excitement.


Day 3: Mmm…Sunday morning we woke up the tantalizing smell of scrumptious pancakes for breakfast made by our professional chefs. Before davening, we reflected on Hashem’s love for us and how we can show our love each day. Davening was followed by Painting your Passion workshop with Nechama and we were joined online by Jewish girls from around the world. We reflected on what blocks us from truly shining our light and then we presented our paintings. Then Rabbi Laber piled took us in his van to…drumroll…Ice Skating!!!! We bundled into our coats and ice skates and were ready to roll…onto the ice rink!!! We warmed ourselves up with delicious hot cocoa and snacks. Next, we find out that we have another surprise – the super cool New York State Museum!! In the Museum we saw a 9/11 exhibit, went into an actual train, rode an antique carousel, and followed a really interesting trail about the Holocaust. We returned home to the heavenly aroma of dinner and prepared for our grand talent show that included dancing, singing, writing, and speaking to display our glowing pearls of light within each of us. The fun continued with a movie night and popcorn followed by a surprise singer, Chaya Bracha Rubin and we ended off the night on a high singing and dancing.


Day 4: After a yummy breakfast, we drew pearls on a paper that said, “You are my pearl!” and we filled in the pearls with compliments for one another. Then, following davening we went shopping to find a gift for our secret admirer to bring out the theme of finding pearls in each other. We also bought ingredients in order to transform them into delicious treats for the Banquet as we transform our hardships into pearls. We returned to participate in several creative activities: beading our very own Pearl earrings with Chana Laber, rolling our own sushi with Shaina and Raizel and decorating our very own personal cakes with edible pearls and colorful frosting. Then banquet preparation began! At the Banquet, we enthralled everyone with our writing, stories, and a Song-dance, sharing our inner pearls glowing with our inner radiance from JGR to the world. Nechama ended with the powerful message that we can transform our challenges into pearls when we share our stories and connect with others so we can support each other as one family. JGU is truly a family where every girl shines!


Day 5: Can’t believe JGR  is over already!!! After rediscovering ourselves and feeling comfortable enough to share with our sisters at JGR, we each unearthed the treasured pearl buried within ourselves and bravely expressed our voices to uplift others with our challenges and breakthroughs.  Through demonstrating our talents, we successfully displayed our light to unite with girls around the world in perfect harmony.