Welcome to our new series called “Our Alumnae Album”. Today, we introduce you to a 12th grader named SARAH SALLES, who was a JGR camper, JGU Online Student and even a JGR Staff member.
I went to Jewish Girls Retreat after looking online and feeling drawn into it, even though I wasn’t religious. When I went there I felt this warmth and passion immediately. I first went as an 8th grader during the 2014 Winter retreat. Although I felt out of place in my pants, I felt so welcomed and accepted. I decided to take on davening [praying] and while it’s been hard with School to daven, I still take on mitzvahs to this day because of how patient my counselors were. They answered all my questions in great detail. After hearing the answers, I loved how beautiful everything was.
After winter I heard about Jewish Girls Unite Online Classes and decided to try a Beyond Bat Mitzvah Class on a limb. I ended up enjoying it because I got to learn about my heritage and ways to grow. The warmth and family environment of the JGU online community is so beautiful and something I hope the world can become.
In summer of 2015, I went to JGR and I grew so much. I met my soul sister and best friend Shayna Mushka Saxon. Going away on my own was hard, but it was so worth it. I learned even more and had fun too. One of my favourite things we experienced was Shabbos! It was such a peaceful and fun time where we truly bonded and relaxed. Of course we had amazing food too. Seeing my friends from JGU online classes was really cool as well.
That fall I joined the new class Mirror Reflections which changed my life. There we became mothers and leaders. I’m not an actual mother yet, but all mothers are leaders and I can nurture the world. There I started to make my mission statement and actually learn ways to help with my anxiety. I remember that “All is Well” and how affirmations are okay. I also learned how important it is to share your gifts, your light and passion with the world. The best part of learning is hearing everyone open up and hearing their stories. Mirror reflections is such a powerful place and I encourage any teenager to go online and join the class at www.JewishGirlsUnite.Com
Anyway, in 2016 I came as a SIT: staff in training which was truly incredible. After the first shabbos I really bonded with the staff as one family. Giving back to the campers and helping the staff was great. I did get to hang and mentor the teens which was really cool. Again Shabbos was amazing and the farbrengens were so inspiring. While there are so many great memories from JGR my favorite was going to Crown Heights. I saw for the first time the beauty of a Jewish community up close and I couldn’t help but feel like I came home even though I was in Brooklyn. To this day I keep in touch with two of my counselors Shayna Mushka and Shimona. I catch up with other staff and bunkmates once in a while. Being apart of JGR/JGU has opened my doors to so many opportunities and has changed me for the better.
Today I am preparing to go to college as a nurse major at Stony Brook University. I am excited to be close to family and friends in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I am still on my journey to Yiddishkeit – Judaism and am always growing and learning each day.