A Week of Empowerment and Connection in the French Alps

Shelanu, an organisation dedicated to building a vibrant community for Israelis living abroad, recently organised a profoundly impactful ski retreat that has left a lasting impression on all who participated. This retreat, set against the serene backdrop of the French Alps in Chamonix Mont-Blanc, was more than just a ski trip; it was a week-long journey of healing, connection, and empowerment. It exemplified the transformative power of immersive educational and Jewish experiences, a core belief of Jewish Futures, of which Shelanu is a proud member.

Since the traumatic events of October 7th, life for many Israelis has been marred by grief and stress. The participants on this trip included 33 individuals, most from the community Shelanu has built in the UK but also joined by some survivors of the horrific Nova massacre and soldiers who have recently fought in Gaza. For them, this retreat offered a much-needed escape, an opportunity to step away from their daily struggles and reconnect with themselves, with others, and with their Jewish identity.

The retreat, which began as a simple ski trip, quickly evolved into a comprehensive experience for the soul. Through a thoughtfully curated schedule of activities, participants engaged in sessions that fostered learning, sensitivity, empathy, and personal growth. The retreat provided a sanctuary where participants could process their experiences and gain strength from the supportive community around them.

The success of this retreat would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of the Shelanu team. Special thanks go to Noga for her impeccable management of the schedule, ensuring that every workshop and logistic detail was handled with care. Itamar’s healing yoga sessions provided much-needed physical and emotional relief, while Omri, the dynamic ski instructor, guided the group with expertise and enthusiasm. Additionally, Gil’s logistical management ensuring all the participants had everything they needed for each day of the trip and Ziv who organized the accommodation, all added to the overall positive experience. The delicious food provided by the chefs throughout the retreat were also a highlight, nourishing both body and soul.

Shelanu’s mission is to create a strong, supportive community for Israelis living outside of Israel, and this retreat embodied that vision. The trip demonstrated how time away from the pressures of daily life can foster profound personal and communal growth. It highlighted the importance of taking time for self-care and reflection, especially during challenging times.

For the participants, this retreat was not just a break from the routine; it was a powerful reminder of the strength and resilience of their community. It reinforced the belief that through connection and shared experiences, healing and growth are possible.

Looking Forward

Shelanu is already looking forward to organising future retreats and events that will continue to provide meaningful experiences for the Israeli community abroad. Shelanu is committed to offering opportunities for individuals to connect deeply with their Jewish heritage, with each other, and with their own personal journeys. The Shelanu team is eager to reunite with the wonderful individuals who made this retreat so memorable and to continue building a community that supports and uplifts each other in times of need.

Reflecting on the retreat, one participant summed it up beautifully: “You are simply a group of angels in the guise of humans, angels whom God has rightfully endowed with such powers to be the leaders and inspiration for our sweet generation.” This sentiment captures the essence of what Shelanu strives to create—a community of hope, healing, and unwavering support.