Introducing the JWRP’s New Board President: A Conversation with Andrea Mail
An anthropologist by training, Andrea Mail is adept at immersing herself in a community and understanding its inner workings. At Harvard, she studied women in science and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, she studied the Armenian diaspora in Israel. Today, Andrea, who is also a wife, mother of three daughters, and certified life coach, is devoting much of her time to the JWRP as the new Board President. The first non-founding member to be elected to this position, Andrea believes the JWRP’s unique quality stems from how the movement frames each experience in such a positive way. “The Momentum Year-Long Journey is a life-changing experience. By combining personal growth with the experience of the entire group, our JWRP participants experience a true transformation.” In our conversation, Andrea shares her vision for the JWRP, as well as how we can encourage our children’s Jewish involvement despite busy schedules.
How has the JWRP impacted your life?
When we reach the end of our time in this world, how will we want to be remembered? We won’t care about our SAT scores or that we attended a particular college. (Can you tell that I have teenagers?!) We’ll want to be remembered for the positive impact that we had on other people’s lives and for our contributions to society. Since first traveling to Israel with the JWRP in 2013, the JWRP has reinforced these important values. Jewish learning reminds me to slow down and experience the journey without seeing everything as a means to an end, to be a better role model for our three daughters, and to strive to be a better person. The JWRP reinforces how much words matter and how creating a judgment-free environment leads to personal growth. Most of all, the JWRP provides an authentically loving environment where our souls can soar.
I am incredibly grateful to the JWRP’s founders, leaders, and dedicated professional team.
What are your goals as the new board president?
The number one challenge and opportunity we face is our long waiting list. It reflects our success as the more people we engage, the bigger our impact. A major goal is to secure the resources to meet this increased demand.
We are a global community which embraces Jewish women and men from all over the world. By bringing together people of diverse backgrounds, we learn from each other and grow in new ways.
To more effectively connect our global network, we are exploring innovative ways using technology.
We seek to harness our JWRP community’s positive energy by channeling it into leadership and look forward to welcoming hundreds of JWRP sisters at our Leadership Conference this December. Everyone has a role to play; each person is valued and important.
With such busy schedules, how can we make space for Jewish activities in our children’s lives?
“Mommy, I love being Jewish!”
This quote from our girls is music to my ears, especially as I didn’t grow up feeling similarly. Lori Palatnik taught me that we can’t outsource a love for our tradition. It starts in the home. If Jewish values are meaningful to you, you’ll want your children to experience them in joyous ways. And when kids are exhausted and over-programmed, they may resent attending Jewish events. In our family, we make Judaism a priority, while also prioritizing health and well-being. Usually on Friday nights, we stay home, enjoying downtime as a family. I personally find Shabbat services uplifting, yet for the sake of Shalom Bayit (peace in the home), I encourage, but I don’t pressure my family to attend. Thankfully, each of our girls has chosen to engage in Jewish life: reading Torah at synagogue, going on Federation Israel trips, participating in USY, Hillel, AIPAC and StandWithUs. Visiting Israel as a family has always been very important to us.
What is your long-term vision for the JWRP?
With the JWRP’s 10th anniversary fast approaching, we are celebrating tremendous growth with over 15,000 community members from 26 countries. As we grow, we continually question how can we more effectively inspire people and nourish their souls?
I believe in the core mission of changing the world, one mother/father at a time! In the years to come, I hope that the JWRP will become a rite of passage for every Jewish parent. May the JWRP strengthen the Jewish journey of individuals throughout the world. May we deepen connections to Jewish values, to Israel, and to their communities back home.
May we continue building bridges with our amazing partners who have been with us since the beginning, as well as with new organizations. While working with Partner Organizations, we truly practice our core value, Unity without Uniformity.