Finding Inspiration

Rabbi Yisroel Porter and his wife, Chaya, head up the Etz Chaim Jewish Family Institute. (Justin Tsucalas)

Rabbi Yisroel Porter and his wife, Chaya, head up the Etz Chaim Jewish Family Institute.
(Justin Tsucalas)

Since 2010, Rabbi Yisroel Porter and his wife, Chaya Porter, of Baltimore’s Etz Chaim Center have been offering programs for young families of all Jewish affiliations through their Jewish Family Institute. Programs for Jewish women such as free women’s trips to Israel through the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, Roughly Rosh Hodesh and the Jewish Moms Coffee Club are among JFI’s most popular.

On Sunday, May 4 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., JFI will present its inaugural Women’s Day of Wisdom.

“From what we’ve seen, moms usually put themselves last,” said the rabbi. “They are taking care of their husbands and children, working and [usually] relegate their own personal growth for later.”

Porter said that JFI has made an effort to provide activities designed to help women take time to focus on their own Jewish journeys. Women’s Day of Wisdom will feature presentations by two Jewish women who Porter believes will inspire women to attend.

One is Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, author of “Raising a Child with Soul.” Jungreis’ topic is “Spa for the Soul: Bringing Joy and Blessing into your Life.” The other is Nili Couzens, co-founder and executive director of Jewish Life Seminars, an outreach organization in Philadelphia and an organizer and group leader for the Renaissance Project’s free trips to Israel. Couzens will present “Three Secrets to an Amazing You.”

The Porters engaged Jungreis-Wolff on the recommendation of Claire Tesh Stoltze, a wife and mother of two who works in Washington as a community education center manager at the American Council of Immigration. Tesh Stoltze met the Porters shortly after she moved to Baltimore and has taken part in JFI programming ever since.

“I’m a member of Beth Am, which is amazing,” said Tesh Stoltze. “But Etz Chaim gives me a foundation. They do really good workshops and make it fun to learn.”

About a year ago, Tesh Stoltze went on one of JFI’s trips to Israel.

“I had just lost my father, and I needed a spiritual jump-start,” she recalled. “It was amazing.”

After she read “Raising a Child with Soul,” Tesh Stoltze approached the Porters about having Jungreis-Wolff come to Baltimore.

“I said, ‘Look, if you bring her here, I will fund it,’ ” said Tesh Stoltze, who will introduce the author at the Women’s Day of Wisdom, which she has dedicated in loving memory to her father, the late Arnold Tesh. She is also preparing a poem for the occasion.

“Being in a life with a lot of business travel, the book just inspired me to slow down,” she said. “It’s one thing to read the book, but to be in a room with all these amazing women learning together, maybe it will help us all to think about how to slow down.”.

Jungreis-Wolff echoed Tesh Stoltze’s sentiments.

“We live in very challenging times, and we have the wisdom to get through those times. We will discover the pockets of peace and serenity in our lives based on the Torah,” said Jungreis-Wolff.

“We will discuss this with personal stories and find solutions and true inspiration.”

For additional information and to register for the Women’s Day of Wisdom, visit

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