I have run 16 Justifi trips in 3 different countries. Each one is unique, each one is eye opening, and each time I am blown away by the awesome quality of the people who have come together to really make the experience what it is. When you have an eclectic group of people from all sorts of backgrounds and walks of life, all ages and philosophical outlooks, who have invested time and money in doing something transformative and inspirational, people who have gotten together in an exotic location to deal with serious local issues, clarify their own role and purpose in it all and at the same time have a stupid amount of fun and adventure – you are bound to have many, many, touching, moving, hysterical, challenging, and meaningful moments.
From courageously shared (very) personal stories, to overcoming fears of death whilst rappelling down a waterfall in the Nicaraguan jungle, from meeting movers and shakers who have given their lives to helping vulnerable communities, to climbing Macchu Picchu, with its awe-inspiring mountainous backdrop – the trips are filled with moments you’ll never forget.
Funnily enough, when asked to pick some powerful moments from the trips, the first two that came to mind both involve fire.
Being a pluralistic organization, Justifi provides kosher food and a Shabbat experience for those observe these practices. For me, one of the most moving parts of every trip in every country, is when all the women (who want to) get together on Friday night to light the Shabbat candles. Women from religious families who have been lighting since they were three years old, to women who are lighting for the first time in their lives all standing together, hands covering their eyes, each connecting in their own special way. It’s so beautiful to see holy Jewish women from the whole spectrum of our people coming together to bring the light and warmth of the candles into their lives and light up the world for the rest of us.
The second is the lantern release on the Thailand trip. On the last evening, having been through this crazy 10 day adventure together, we come together as a group and write out all the things we need to let go of, anything that is holding us back in our lives. Then we climb up the hotel watch tower with its panoramic view of Chiang Rai, where we release the fire-lanterns into the night sky, with all our fears, pain, confusion, doubt and regrets being burnt up and floating away with them. As we watch them fade away into the distance, even if it’s just for a brief moment – we all feel totally free and at ease, refreshed and relieved, ready to face the world again.
Like most things in life, it is important to remember that these powerful moments can not just remain brief moments, fond memories and great photographs. Powerful moments have to be processed and integrated, used to propel us towards ever greater self awareness, depth of understanding and clarity in moving forward. Then, once we have lit the flame of passion for growth and contribution in our own lives, we can use it to light up the lives of those around us.