Chabad of Potomac’s Women’s Circle hosted its 17th annual Spa for the Soul last month, an event for women that celebrates Jewish learning. On Feb. 17, 130 women gathered at Rollins Congressional Club in Rockville, Maryland, to indulge in soulful pampering.
Each participant chose to attend one of two sessions. During the educational Q&A session with Rabbi Mendel Bluming, women learned the Torah perspective on a wide variety of complex topics, including interreligious relations and gender identity. In the session titled “The Art of Fused Glass,” led by local artist and co-owner of FeinARTsy Patricia Fein Cate, participants created glass mezuzah cases or spice boxes.
Spa for the Soul has grown successfully over the years under the leadership of Rebbetzin Sara Bluming, co-director of Chabad of Potomac in Maryland. The event is hosted by Chabad’s Women’s Circle, a forum that offers weekly and monthly Torah study classes attended by over 100 women per month. “The success of Spa for the Soul is a testament to Sara’s power to reach so many women. There is a devoted and diverse community of women who want to spiritually grow, and Spa for the Soul delivers,” said Spa for the Soul committee member Susan Grant of Potomac. The event is described as “a day of relaxation, depth, beauty, and spirituality for the Jewish woman.”
After the sessions, the women gathered for a tea reception featuring keynote speaker Judge Ruchie Freier, the first Chasidic woman to be elected as a civil court judge in New York State. Freier shared her unusual story of raising six children while simultaneously completing her bachelor’s and law degrees from ages 30 to 40, and her journey to becoming the first female Chasidic judge.
Roselle Oberstein of Potomac, who is a member of Chabad of Potomac and a Chabad Hebrew School mom, was interested in attending the event as both an attorney and as a mother. "What resonated with me was her perseverance and kindness toward others. Judge Freier embodies the biblical obligation, Tzedek tzedek tirdof [Justice, justice, you shall pursue]," Oberstein said. "Her message was inspiring to me and serves to motivate women to maintain their values and never compromise their beliefs, no matter the circumstance. She is a wonderful example that, with faith and resolve, one can simultaneously be an observant Jew, present parent, and accomplished professional."
Community member Ricki Cytryn also found Freier’s story inspiring. “Through funny and sometimes poignant stories, Judge Freier showed us that by openly defining her boundaries and sticking to them without exception, her co-workers came to not only respect and work with those boundaries, but also recognized her consistency as a sign of integrity,” said Cytryn. “Judge Freier’s powerful message is one that every Jewish girl and woman should hear.”
Rebbetzin Bluming shared the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s vision in encouraging women’s leadership. “He would only send a Chabad rabbi as his emissary if the Chabad rabbi’s wife would join him in leading the organization. Think of any Chabad center you know and recognize how unprecedented it is in Chasidic Jewish history that women are at the forefront of Jewish communal leadership.” Judge Ruchie Freier, said Bluming, “exemplifies this value of Jewish women’s leadership without compromising one’s personal values.”
By Susan Eisen
Susan Eisen is a member of Chabad of Potomac and lives in Potomac, Maryland.