Devorah Talia Gordon

A few years ago, Sara Brejt heard Faigie Horowitz and Miriam Liebermann speaking about the empty nest on a Chazaq internet radio program. She was inspired; the subject was one near and dear to her heart, and Sara, a career and life coach, knew many more women could benefit from their wisdom. The three women began to share the challenges of midlife such as caring for elderly parents, health, and spiritual growth, while they also discussed books they were reading and hobbies. The trio felt there was a need for women of this 50+ age to discuss topics unique to their stage, and in 2019, Jewish Women of Wisdom (JWOW!) was born.

Each of the four women of JWOW! bring their own expertise to the table. In her career coaching, Sara, a former lawyer, is trained to support women making midlife career shifts.  Miriam Liebermann, MSW, has edited two anthologies spotlighting the midlife stage and co-authored a book on grief and loss, Saying Goodbye. Faigie Horowitz, MS, daughter of the late Novominsker Rebbe, zt”l, is the rebbetzin of the Agudas Achim shul of Lawrence, co-founder of Rachel’s Place, and a board member of Makor Disability Services of Brooklyn.

Miriam Hendeles, our local JWOW!er, was asked in early 2021 by fellow writer and friend Miriam Liebermann to join the JWOW! team, and be the West Coast contact. Miriam, a music therapist and author of two books, Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! and Best Foot Forward, has extensive blog writing experience, website knowledge, and involvement with online forums and social media, so she is the ‘techie’ on board.

Initially, the women of JWOW! came together in-person to share ideas and concerns unique to their age and stage. Live gatherings in many Orthodox communities drew hundreds of women, to cultivate the bonds of sisterhood, discuss dilemmas of contemporary Jewish midlife, and socialize with like-minded women.

“That was before COVID,” explains Miriam Hendeles. “Once COVID hit, JWOW! pivoted to Zoom, replicating the pre-COVID experience by incorporating large group conversation followed by special breakout rooms, enabling lively discussion in small groups.”

While JWOW! already sends out bi-weekly emails to almost 1,000 members, JWOW! wanted to reach more women and provide daily digital interaction. Thus, website design began. Miriam Hendeles has been overseeing the design and working with copywriters, graphic designers, and engineers, with the active contribution of the other women. The website www.jewishwomenofwisdom.org is slated to go live on February 1st.

 “It will serve the JWOW! community as the portal to access Zoom events, online forums, and more,” explained Miriam. “Tons of free content will be available on the site, and a free online subscription to the newsletter. Women on the email list will receive articles directly to their inbox. Like this winner: Ten things You’re Doing to Make Your Daughter-In-Law crazy.”  

Becoming a paying member of JWOW! entitles women to locked content of even more articles, a subscription discount to Uplift Magazine (a new magazine from England), access to all Zoom events, and the ability to participate in the online forum.

“This interactive forum is the main part of the website. It is moderated, and we will have many topics such as long-distance parenting/grandparenting, shiurim recommendations, advance planning, making aliyah, women’s health, and writing groups. On the forums, you can write a comment or post questions on your thread, and there will be responses and discussion. For members who want a daily level of interaction beyond the scheduled Zoom events, the forum is the answer.”

Zoom meetings take place about once every six weeks. They’ve covered such topics such as Sukkos and Pesach and hosting extra guests, creating heirlooms, memoir writing and friendships. There are lively breakout rooms moderated by the four women; usually about fifty women attend the Zoom meetings, which typically are held at 12 pm EST on Sundays.   

So far, JWOW! has wowed the women involved, and when the site goes live, women will have two weeks to get a special discount when they join.

“We want to create a movement where women our age feel relevant. We are vital, productive, educated, working women who want to be involved,” says Miriam. “We’re in a new stage now; our kids are grown up. With JWOW! we find more stimulation, and now, with the interactive site, we don’t have to travel across the country or world to access it.”

To find out more, contact: hello@jewishwomenofwisdom.org