JWRP Sister Spotlight: Gail Levy
Gail Levy is a wife, mother of three boys, marketing professional, and the founder of Couture Fashion Book Panama, the official magazine of Panama’s Fashion Week. Gail traveled to Israel with the JWRP only a few weeks ago, and says, “I feel like I’m still there. I’ve been walking on air ever since.” We spoke with Gail about the unique warmth of the Panama City Jewish Community, and how, as a busy professional, she gives back through her work.
What inspired you to travel to Israel with the JWRP?
I signed up for the MOMentum Trip because my sister and friends encouraged me to and it seemed like an adventure. I knew that it was a trip to Israel, but I didn’t know exactly what we’d do there. But that didn’t bother me. I’m always looking to grow — religiously, spiritually, and professionally. When I realized that we’d focus on our inner growth and finding purpose in our lives, I was thrilled. It was exactly what I had been looking for.
Tell us about a memorable experience in Israel.
Celebrating Shabbat in Jerusalem was amazing. On Friday afternoon, we attended an inspiring class about body image, during which Nili Couzens spoke about accepting ourselves externally and loving ourselves internally. Then, we welcomed in Shabbat at the Kotel. As I watched hundreds of women dancing and singing, I only saw their internal selves. I saw the beauty of their souls. Disconnecting to connect made Shabbat even more special. My Jewish identity became stronger, and when I returned home, I decided to celebrate Shabbat similarly. I saw that I could do it and how much value it adds to my life and to my family’s life. My husband is already observant, so he was happy, too.
Tell us something that’s special about the Panama City Jewish Community.
We have a small Jewish community — about 15,000 Jews — and yet, we also have tons of kosher restaurants and synagogues and an active Jewish life. Our community is like one big family. We’re all very close and we always help each other. We work together on many different community projects, and make sure that everyone receives assistance when necessary. If someone loses their job and can’t afford Jewish day school for their kids, the community comes together to help that person pay the tuition. We feel at home in our synagogues. And when travelers visit, we invite them for Shabbat meals. I feel lucky to be part of such a wonderful community.
How do you instill Jewish values in your work?
I make sure that Jewish values are part of everything I do. I am honest and transparent with my clients. I believe and invest in my clients and provide them with good service. We also provide marketing services free of charge to our Jewish community. We’ll create campaigns for local Jewish organizations, and we recently helped sponsor a school play. Because I’m often so busy at work, I’m not able to volunteer with local Jewish organizations as much as I’d like to. So, I feel fortunate that I can give back through my work. When you give to others, you feel good. And as community members, it’s our responsibility to take care of our brothers and sisters.