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Jewish Community Center

Nishmah – Programs for Women


Through a number of diverse and inspirational programs, Nishmah brings together Jewish women from different denominations who otherwise may have never met. Together, these women learn from each other, connect and form bonds through faith and friendship. Nishmah creates the foundation for these Jewish connections that form outside the walls of a synagogue environment.

For more information about Nishmah’s programs for women, contact Shira Kraft, Director of Nishmah, 314.442.3111.

Support Nishmah

Lynnie's Light for Life

The family of Lynnie Isaacs Palan z”l, Nishmah and the J invite you to commemorate the life of an inspiring woman and celebrate the day Lynnie loved most…her birthday. Join us in a spectacular display of love and hope in honor of Lynnie and our commitment to those in need. We will be lighting up the field with hundreds of wish lanterns in a fundraising effort to support our community facing  cancer.

Lynnie’s Light for Life
A Community Wish Lantern Lighting
Wednesday, September 5,
The J’s Staenberg Family Complex/Creve Coeur
Day Camp Pavilion (Arts & Education Building in case of rain)
2 Millstone Campus Drive
Light refreshments and drinks

RSVP Online

Lynne was a pioneer and leader of both Nishmah: The St. Louis Jewish Women’s Project and Sharsheret Supports St. Louis, a collaborative project of Nishmah and the national, not-for-profit Sharsheret organization. Proceeds from Lynnie’s Light for Life will ensure Sharsheret Supports is there for women and families in all stages of a breast or ovarian cancer journey—from understanding one’s hereditary risk to grappling with a diagnosis to undergoing treatment and managing life post-treatment. With your help, Sharsheret Supports saves and changes lives.

To attend and/or contribute to Lynnie’s Light for Life, please RSVP by August 24. Entry is free and open to all ages. Donations of any amount are accepted. To participate in the lighting ceremony, wish lanterns are available for purchase with a tax-deductible donation of $100 per lantern. Lanterns will be distributed and personally dedicated in honor of loved ones or personal wishes the night of the event. Those unable to attend are invited to purchase wish lanterns to be included in the community display.

For questions or to learn more about lighting a lantern from out-of-town, contact Shira Kraft at 314-442-3111.

Ilene Joseph Salon Series

Nishmah’s Salons are intimate, open, facilitated discussions on topics of interest to us as Jewish women. Preselected pieces of media, such as articles or videos, incite and frame the conversation. The theme for this year’s series, Women Lifting up Women, explores what it means to harness collective, female energy and propel each other forward. The Salon Series is named in memory of Ilene Joseph (z”l), one of Nishmah’s founders and a passionate supporter of the series.

Salon Series Kickoff: Words that Heal

Facilitated by Rabbi Jessica Shafrin
Tuesday, August 28, 7-9pm
Home of Michelle Mills (address provided upon registration)
Suggested $10 fee
Contact: Shira Kraft, 314-442-3111

Save the Date:
Winter Salon Series
Tuesday, December 11, 12-1pm (The J, Staenberg Family Complex)
Wednesday, December 12, 7:30-9pm (Private Home)

Spring Salon Series

Monday, March 11, 7:30-9pm (Private Home)
Tuesday, March 12, 12-1pm (The J, Staenberg Family Complex)

More details on Winter and Spring Salons to come.

Finding Ourselves in Torah

With Rabbi Jessica Shafrin
Together we delve deep into the words of Torah, gleaning insights to influence our lives. Starting at Bereshit, from the very beginning, we listen to the voices of female Torah scholars and our own, joining classic wisdom with modern life. Women of all ages and denominations are welcome to this open space for communal learning.

First class, Tuesday, October 9, 7:30-9pm
Continues on 3rd Tuesdays of the month through May
The J, Staenberg Family Complex
$36 for the series

Contact: Shira Kraft, 314-442-3111

Women of the Book: Read with Next Dor and Nerot!

For women in their 20s and 30s
Thursday, Sept 13, 7:30-9pm
Next Dor (5062 Waterman Blvd, 63108)
Join the Facebook Event!

This summer we’re reading Ilana Kurshan’s recent memoir, If All the Seas Were Ink, and gathering for discussion during the reflective period between the High Holidays. Join us for a fun, enlightening evening of drinks and conversation facilitated by Sara Fredman, PhD. There is no cost to attend.

The sooner you register, the sooner you get your book! Desserts and wine will be served. If you have questions, please contact Simone Picker at 314-442-3166.

About the book: The book follows Kurshan as she completes the seven-year cycle of Talmud study called Daf Yomi. She magically interweaves her life journey – from a divorce in her 20s to remarriage and then motherhood – with stories from the Talmud in what has been called a “celebration of learning – through literature.” Click on this link to find out more about the story and see the prizes the book has won.

About Nerot: Young Women of Nishmah offers specialized Nishmah programming geared specifically to women in their 20s and 30s. This programming is partially funded by the Kranzberg Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.

About Next Dor STL: Next Dor STL aims to build a community of young adults – both Jewish and non-Jewish – based in our four pillars of community building, personal development, Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), and leadership empowerment.

About Sara Fredman: Sara is a freelance writer and professor of English literature and writing living in St. Louis. She received her PhD in Medieval English literature from Washington University in St. Louis in 2017. She is especially interested in the past and present intersections of religion and gender. Her dissertation focused on two 15th century women writers who defied expectations and overstepped bounds in medieval Christianity. Most recently, she wrote an essay for Lilith magazine on the challenges of feminist parenting in Orthodox Judaism.

Immerse: St. Louis Mikvah Project

Immerse: St. Louis Mikvah Project

Nishmah’s trained, volunteer mikvah guides facilitate welcoming, transformative and compassionate immersions for Jewish women seeking mikvah experiences of all forms. At Nishmah, we understand that moments of celebration, growth, transition and grief need a Jewish expression. We look to honor profound changes and acknowledge new stages of life by helping you connect spiritually to the ancient Jewish tradition of the ritual bath.

What is Mikvah?

Ritual immersion is an ancient part of Jewish tradition, noted in the Torah and in later Rabbinic sources. Even today, immersion in a mikvah is an act required by Jewish law for converts to Judaism, brides, and women observing “niddah”, the practice of immersing monthly following menstruation.

Mikvah has also been used for other non-requisite, spiritual purposes throughout Jewish history. For example, by men prior to Shabbat and the holidays or by women in the ninth month of pregnancy.  Ritual immersion in a mikvah – a gathering of living water (mayyim hayyim) – marks a change in status. Immersions can mark life transitions such as weddings, births, healing from illness or trauma, significant birthdays, divorce, pregnancy loss, fertility struggles, and mourning.

What do we do?

Nishmah’s mikvah guides, in collaboration with the Sylvia Green Memorial Mikvah, welcome women in our community seeking meaningful immersions. An assigned guide will work with you to facilitate a supportive, safe immersion experience from start to finish. In addition, we provide suggested readings, blessings and a framework for one’s personal experience. Our goal is to connect you to this ancient Jewish tradition in a manner that feels relevant and significant to your life in the present.

Inquire About Experiencing the Mikvah

Women's Shabbat Retreat

Viva La Vida…To the Fullest!
Women’s Shabbat Retreat

Friday-Saturday, February 9-10, 2018
Cedar Creek Center (New Haven, MO)
Retreat Recipes

Our biennial Shabbat Retreat brings together women of many generations, phases of life and affiliations. This year’s Retreat, co-chaired by Maria Cohen and Marcia Lisker, featured The Jewish Latin Princess, Yael Trusch, and celebrated the lives of Jewish women all over the world. The weekend began Friday evening with welcome cocktails followed by a musical Kabbalat Shabbat, Latin-inspired dinner, and entertaining programs.