By Yael Renov
If there is one creation which symbolizes feminine beauty, it is the rose. Upon reflecting on the Peninim of Far Rockaway/Five Towns inaugural event this past Sunday night in the Renov home, I felt compelled to compare what I saw to a beautiful bed of roses. Every woman in that room was, in her own right, reminiscent of a majestic rose, ready to become a part of the beautiful bouquet Peninim seeks to create. It was truly awe-inspiring to see how women of all different types and backgrounds were running to be a part of the Peninim tzniyus revolution as well as leaving on a spiritual high. I can only imagine the nachas ruach that the attendees gave the Ribbono Shel Olam that night.
Peninim provides venues in which different groups of 10–15 women get together twice a month for an hour to discuss various topics in tzniyus, be it in the area of speech, clothing, or actions. These discussions are centered on a two-minute audio clip, a two-to-three-page synopsis of that week’s topic, and some thoughts to ponder. The intention of these get-togethers is to create a relaxed, growth-oriented, and non-threatening environment for the group members to discuss their views and for each woman to contemplate what area of tzniyus she would like to develop in herself.
It is interesting to note that similar to the estimated number of species of roses across the globe, there were an estimated 250 women in attendance at the event, thus affirming the truth that we are each unique and precious as we are a part of the bigger whole. By attending, the women not only represented a fraction of the gamut of Klal Yisrael, but also highlighted the intrinsic spiritual value of enhancing our tzniyus and the feminine quality inherent in preserving it. There was an ambiance of warmth, togetherness, and optimism towards becoming more in harmony with Hashem’s will. The room radiated beauty and grandeur and the chizuk of such a showing was visible on every face in the crowd.
The atmosphere which defined the evening was both elegant and regal. The tables were draped with shades of velvety green tablecloths with pearls and diamonds befitting royalty. Its décor of deep purples and beautiful fresh flowers depicted the feminine nature of beauty, and the candelabra as well as the sparkling candlelight which was reflected off the mirrors set the tone for a night of exquisite splendor. Estie Florans’s article, “Inside Out: Beauty Redefined,” which was featured in Binah magazine, as well as the scrolls of Peninim Pearls of Dignity, which enumerated the generous sponsorships, were both prominently displayed on the tables.
Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, shlita, mara d’asra of Shaaray Tefilah and rabbinical advisor of Peninim of the Far Rockaway/Five Towns, started off the night with heartfelt divrei berachah and expounded upon the topic of tzniyus from the man’s perspective. His response to the overwhelming turnout of the event was not only touching but encouraging as well. It is not every day that a rav, who is privy to so much, is moved beyond words as he looks upon his community members. Seeing what we had accomplished by uniting for the purpose of tzniyus brought him to shed tears of jubilation.
Upon reflection, Rabbi Weinberger compared the women who have already committed to Peninim and those who will im yirtzeh Hashem be joining Peninim to members of an army which is battling for kedushah versus tumah in our community and beyond. “Just as it was the yechidim who brought about the nes of Chanukah, so too in this case will it be the individuals who will make all the difference and be zocheh to tremendous berachah.”
Mrs. Hadassah Zelman, who is the primary mover behind Peninim taking root in our community and a major organizer behind the event, spoke next. Her overview of tzniyus as well as a depiction of the general goings-on of a Peninim meeting gave the attendees a sense of what to expect from this new approach to enhancing tzniyus. Mrs. Zelman also highlighted the powerful feedback she received from some of the ongoing Peninim groups in the Far Rockaway/Five Towns and described what it means to be a part of a Peninim group. She enumerated the wide range of Peninim groups’ meeting times and locations in our community and encouraged women to join this worldwide movement. It is with a full heart that we thank Mrs. Zelman for all she has done in spearheading this revolution.
Charlene Aminoff, the founder of Gali’s Couture Wigs in Great Neck, was the guest speaker and her story left everyone teary-eyed and amazed. Charlene described Hashem’s tremendous chesed throughout her daughter, Gali’s, ordeal and how her tzniyus sensitivities have evolved through the epiphany she had when faced with near-tragedy. Her depiction of how she capitalized on the opportunity to grow in tzniyus awareness as well as how she enables others to do the same through her at-cost line of wigs, is very down-to-earth and inspiring. Charlene has even mentioned that she herself would like to begin a group in Great Neck, and Peninim wishes her tremendous hatzlachah in that and in all of her endeavors.
It is the nature of women to use their profound understanding (binah yeseirah) to plant and encourage the growth of both themselves and those around them. Be it through “softening the soil” in preparation for new growth, separating out the unnecessary elements which may impede the process, or carefully planting the little seedlings and watering them on a constant basis, women know that it is only slow and consistent care and attention which breeds long-lasting results.
Such is the truth of growth in Torah as well. Through a steady process of opening herself up to new perspectives, removing preconceived notions regarding tzniyus, and the careful planting of new ideas, each woman is enabling herself to flourish in a way that is real and everlasting. Peninim’s goal is to become the vessel for such growth.
Though the rose may grow around the world, each type of rose can only grow in the environment that is suited for it. In a similar vein, each of the women in attendance, as well as the many more women throughout our community, are encouraged to find or form a Peninim group which fits her unique needs and makes her feel comfortable to grow at her own pace and in her own style. It is in this way that we hope to cultivate long-lasting, sustained growth.
Though the world is unfortunately full of thorns of sheker (falsehood), through our aspirations and enthusiasm in the area of enhanced tzniyus, may we become the “rose among the thorns,” by modeling what true, Torah beauty is. In this way, as proposed in Shir HaShirim, may we become even more beloved in Hashem’s eyes.
This past Sunday night, the women of the Far Rockaway/Five Towns community began planting a new garden of roses. Under the guidance of Rabbi Weinberger, shlita, and through the framework of Peninim, may we be zocheh to continue to enhance that garden by giving each rose the opportunity to flourish and grow to its full potential. Nothing could be more beautiful.
It is with tremendous hakaras ha’tov that Peninim acknowledges all those who gave of their time and efforts to make this evening such an outstanding success. May Hashem reward you with tremendous berachah.
Finally, I would like to mention that it has been a true zechus to help coordinate and host this Peninim inaugural event. Each detail of the preparation in which I merited to partake was an honor for me as I knew I was contributing to the betterment of our community. Upon seeing the remarkable presence in my parents’ home, I felt compelled to sing Eishes Chayil and Elokai Neshamah as a tribute to the neshei chayil sitting before me who yearn to maximize each new opportunity for growth. You are each truly more precious than pearls. May Hashem reward you for striving to come closer to Him in a practical way, one step at a time. v
Visit TorahAnytime.com for a selection of speeches from the event. To form or join a Peninim group, call 718-327-4386.