In 2002, I gathered a 9th grade group of girls from Philadelphia’s Main Line to pilot-test Rosh Hodesh. The sisterhood we created together was very special. It provided the girls with a safe space to discover and express their authentic selves.
It was our dream that the girls would be empowered to become contributing leaders in the varied communities they would join as they went out into the world. One young woman in this group, Elana, did just that, organizing Rosh Hodesh groups wherever she landed.
Rosh Hodesh Start Ups
When she participated in a summer program in Israel, Elana called to be reminded of the melody of the blessing we sang as our opening ritual, because, on her own initiative, she was starting a Rosh Hodesh group for the young women on her program. And she wanted to start it off right.
Then, between college and law school, Elana did the year-long AVODAH Jewish Service Corps program, where she also began a Rosh Hodesh group, calling this time to consult with me on content. Then in law school in Washington, D.C., she initiated yet another group that is still meeting.
Proudly, here Elana is again, having landed a job in a Philadelphia law firm and having convened yet another Rosh Hodesh group, this time for young professional women, including Ariel, another participant from our original Rosh Hodesh group that started 13 years ago.
Expressing Values in Community
I think for Elana, Rosh Hodesh is an expression of what she values — being with other women, tradition, community, personal growth, and leadership. She is a true testament to our early vision for this program.
Barbra Berley-Mellits has helped Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing! grow since its inception as an author, facilitator and trainer. For more than 20 years, her professional consulting work has focused on enhancing the self-esteem and interpersonal skills of people of all ages.