March 4, 2024
Close this search box.
Close this search box.
March 4, 2024
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Mikvah Chana Women’s Annual Gala Inspires Over 500 Women

Mikvah Chana Women’s Annual Gala 2023 at the Westminster Hotel in Livingston on February 28 was a rousing success. More than 500 women were in attendance. The theme of the evening, Empowering Yourself, Believe You Could, was a rallying call to the women and high school girls who filled the room.

After an array of appetizers and camaraderie, Tehillim by Chevy and Shiri Kaplitt, attendees heard from co-chairs Dara Orbach and Toba Grossbaum. Orbach began by wishing her daughter a happy birthday, noting that there were four generations at the event and that Mikvah Chana was named for her great-grandmother.

Grossbaum spoke of the improved Mikvah Chana as a comfortable, modern and safe experience,

adding, “Mikvah Chana is a special place and a special experience for so many.” She asked that all do a mitzvah in memory of Henya Federman, rebbetzin of Chabad Lubavitch of the Virgin Islands, who tragically lost her life three weeks ago at age 40 with her 4-month-old daughter when they died in a water accident.

Julie Hersch relayed her inspiring journey of bringing Shabbat into her home with her husband and their three children, bringing balance to their week. Anna, filling in for Hersch’s daughter Rebecca, who was unable to attend, reported that Camp Ramah developed Rebecca’s love of Judaism. Then, attending Brandeis University, Rebecca was exposed to different types of Judaism until she met a Modern Orthodox woman who considered Shabbat the favorite part of her week.

Hersch said that as her daughter’s wedding day approached, they had a special bonding moment at a “spa-like” Mikvah Chana, which was calming, peaceful, and spiritual. Of her mikvah experience, she said, “It was a time to treasure … full of love and happy tears.”

Shevy Vigler, co-director of Chabad Israel Center of the Upper East Side and co-founder and co-director of Belev Echad and Alef Bet preschool, spoke next. The mother of eight had five children at home when she became pregnant again. The doctor told her to return the following week for another checkup, when she learned she was carrying twins. Once again, the doctor wanted her to return in a week. That time, they discovered she was pregnant with triplets. Laughter ensued when she said she didn’t want to accept a callback in another week. At 34 weeks gestation, Vigler gave birth, naturally and unmedicated, to the triplets, which the medical team had never seen before.

Days after the delivery Vigler, riddled with pain, was suffering from “a huge infection.” After emergency surgery to save her life, and several setbacks, it took years of physical and emotional recovery “to fully enjoy the blessings.” To be a “strong woman leader and mother,” she mapped out MEPS, “maps with an ‘e’”: M for mentally, E for emotionally, P for physically, and S for spiritually. “Maps are our guide,” Vigler said. “As a woman, I enlighten my life around me. I put music on at home and dance with my children.” She emphasized the need to empower women, saying she had to learn to “sleep enough, feed [herself] and write” during this difficult period.

“Never underestimate the power of prayer,” Vigler urged the women in the room. She lauded the community as having influential leaders and rebbetzins and being blessed with an oasis of physical beauty in Mikvah Chana, ensuring that every woman feels she has the opportunity to get in touch with herself and bring overwhelming blessings into her home. “All the women and girls in this room use this strength, this power, to bless one another.”

A lively Q&A with Myriam Sandler, creator of Mothercould, a kids activity and family lifestyle community, focused on her step-by-step journey to self-empowerment. The audience was engrossed listening to the questions Vigler posed, which revealed the story of Sandler’s business. As for her initial goal, Sandler said it was “getting my daughter to eat.” With that challenge, she created Mothercould to share her discoveries with a global community. Sandler makes “unique short video tutorials of sensory and food recipes, easy-play activities and educational tools using recycled household items.” She has written two books for publication this year and hopes to develop a television show.

Sandler’s story began with a struggle to find ways to get her 1-year-old daughter to eat solids. Realizing the child had a sensitivity to textures, she slowly exposed her to new textures. She began by replicating every texture through play until her daughter began to eat everything and anything at the dinner table. Sandler declared that was “my Mothercould moment,” a name coined by her husband.

Next, Sandler sought out others to talk to, and by sharing her sensory play projects on social media, which others can start at home, she found a global community. She focuses on creating activities that give “added value rather than another chore.”

Asked what she would tell her younger self just starting out, Sandler responded, “Be true to myself, trust my path, trust that my struggles will lead to better things. People will love you for who you are, or you don’t need them in your life.” In addition to the internet, Sandler uses people, saying “word of mouth and looking for someone with experience in our community is [part of] how we grow.”

After an hour of inspiring presentations, the women were invited to dessert and a raffle, with time to socialize and digest the wisdom of the evening.

Sharon Avram of West Orange found the evening speeches inspiring. Being supportive of

Mikvah Chana and the community, Avram has attended the Mikvah Chana events for about a decade. Referring to the Q&A with Myriam Sandler of Mothercould, she found “Sandler’s work, having started with helping her own child and, in turn, helping others fill their needs, was inspiring.”

Shana Weiss of West Hempstead has been to the Gala for two years. This year’s program

showed “the power of women and what we can do individually and collectively as a community.” Weiss felt “the speakers were very inspirational, especially as a Jewish woman in the modern world.” Her takeaway was “the ideas and stories and how to relate to them and learn from them.”

The evening was all about women empowering women, and that it did.

By Sharon Mark Cohen

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles