Reflections

Perspective — the Ultimate Passport

From New York to Mallorca, this Chinese and Jewish couple uses ritual to parent consciously and cultivate community.

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I’VE ALWAYS REVERED rituals that provide a much-needed respite from the busyness of daily life — because when we move half as fast, we notice twice as much. Shabbat, also known as the Jewish Sabbath, is a day of rest, observed weekly from sundown on Friday to sunrise on Saturday. Five years ago, I was invited to my first Shabbat by my friends Jessica Hendricks Yee and Patrick Yee. I was elated, and would soon find out that my introduction was a bit unconventional.

When the elevator doors opened, I was surprised to find the hallway adorned with designer shoes — at least 30 pairs, which signaled this wasn’t the intimate familial custom I’d imagined (this was pre-pandemic). When I entered the candlelit Williamsburg loft, I was met with one of the most comforting welcomes I’d ever experienced, which says a lot for someone with social anxiety. The group was diverse in every sense of the word, and it struck me that everyone was smiling, hugging, and genuinely engaged. Our hosts, Jessica and Patrick, fluttered around the room ensuring everyone was well fed. After the ceremonial lighting of the candles, Jessica shared a Kabbalistic teaching in lieu of a traditional reading from the Torah. “Thank you for coming,” said Jessica, addressing the crowd. “Although you don’t all know each other yet, everyone here has been a blessing to us.”

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“Shabbat is a time to reflect,” Patrick chimed in, “and we’re really grateful for this community.” I was fascinated by the ease with which the duo blended ancient wisdom with contemporary communion, and how comfortable Patrick, who is Chinese, appeared when participating in these Jewish rituals.

The Yees’ lives look a lot different now — they started a family and moved to Europe — and yet, despite all the challenges these past few years have brought forth, their abundant mindset has only been reinforced. Five years later, I was eager to sit down with them to better understand their unique ability to elevate everyone in their orbit, how they’ve harnessed the power of ritual to cultivate community, and why they view travel as a central pillar to conscious parenting.

Jessica is a jewelry designer with two distinct lines: Zahava, a collection of reimagined heirlooms, and The Brave Collection, which donates 10% of its profits to organizations fighting human trafficking in Cambodia, where the artisans who hand carve each piece are located. Patrick, a growth strategist for consumer brands and an investor, was formerly the CMO of the global media platform Refinery29. Although it’s tempting to characterize them as a “power couple,” what’s most notable about the Yees is their commitment to living life according to their values rather than cultural norms. I was most curious, though, to learn how the couple became so in sync spiritually, despite their contrasting upbringings.

Patrick grew up in the church. “I remember running around the pews as a kid and knowing every word to every hymn.” As first-generation immigrants who arrived in Boston just before graduating from high school, Patrick’s parents felt most at home in their Chinese American evangelical church and the community that formed around it. “My parents incorporated scripture into our life lessons, but spirituality was most present at the dinner table. We would pray and give thanks before every meal.” Although there were pros and cons to such a devout religious upbringing, Patrick attributes his open-mindedness to the warmth and togetherness ever present in his religious community. “Growing up, I never questioned why we closed our eyes and talked to God in our heads. There was never any doubt as to whether or not a spiritual world exists; it’s been there for me from day one.”

‘It’s been really reassuring to know that you can build a home and a life anywhere.’

Born in Paris and raised in New York, Jessica’s upbringing was deliberately atheist after her parents, an interfaith couple, were rejected from their respective Jewish and Christian communities. “My parents were always sarcastic about spirituality […] In hindsight, I think it was their way of processing the fact that they were excluded from it. Instead, my parents made travel and humor their religion.” And yet Jessica was continually called to spirituality. “I would hear Hebrew chanting in a synagogue and feel like it was a portal to another time.” At a young age, Jessica became immersed in theater, and her acting school became a haven. After her acting teacher, a pivotal person in Jessica’s life, passed away, she reached a spiritual breaking point, overwhelmed by the magnitude of existential questions brought on by grief. The head of the theater school, another meaningful figure in Jessica’s life, was this very modern but very religious woman. “I was so enamored by all of the Jewish wisdom she could draw from when answering my seemingly impossible questions about the meaning of life and death. That was such a source of comfort for me, and it sparked the quest I’ve been on ever since.”

The Yees met at a karaoke bar in New York. “Jessica is a great singer but she’s also a great performer,” Patrick reminisces. “She was actually on a date with someone else, but I knew I had to see her again, so I ended up getting her number from the guy she was there with.” Jessica had just returned from Cambodia, where she was developing The Brave Collection and simultaneously learning about Buddhism. Despite the geographical distance between them (Patrick lived in LA and Jessica lived in New York at the time), they quickly grew close, talking for hours on the phone each night. Eventually, they decided to meet in the middle at Hotel Saint Cecilia in Austin, Texas. “It was a magical weekend,” Jessica reminisces, so magical that Patrick moved to New York shortly after so that they could be together.


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“I thought I had to travel so that I could gain the wisdom and experience to grow into the person worthy of attracting my dream partner,” shares Jessica, “but Patrick made me feel so comfortable in my own skin that the focus shifted to traveling the world together so that we can both grow into the best version of ourselves.” After spending much of their courtship in Tulum — “before it blew up,” Patrick adds — the couple got married in Palm Springs, honeymooned in Japan, and cites Morocco as one of their most memorable trips. “We stayed in the Atlas Mountains in this gorgeous glamping situation called Scarabeo Camp,” Jessica recalls. “We were so moved by this experience that I designed a piece for Zahava called the Golden Atlas, where you can place a diamond anywhere on a little globe pendant. I made one for myself with a diamond in the Atlas Mountains so that I could always connect back to that moment.” “And then we named our son Ezra Atlas,” adds Patrick.

Ezra was born in August of 2019, but unlike most new parents, the Yees didn’t feel the need to settle down. In fact, with their 6-month-old son in tow, they embarked on their biggest adventure yet, selling their place in Brooklyn and moving to Madrid, Spain. “We landed on March 1st of 2020,” Jessica recounts, “and enjoyed an amazing two weeks before Covid hit and Spain went into strict lockdown, where kids weren’t allowed outside.” After a few months of intense quarantine, the Yees sought out a way to make the most of this unforeseen situation and relocated to Mallorca. “We showed up to a pink house with jasmine growing outside, chickens roaming in the back, and a beautiful swimming pool. We thought we’d died and gone to heaven,” says Jessica.

Moving to a picturesque island in the Mediterranean sounds like a dream to most, but few can stomach the trust fall required to make it a reality. When I asked the Yees how they found the optimism to take this leap of faith, they cited their son as a major source of inspiration, and their commitment to expose him to diverse cultures and ideas from a young age. The Yees continue to host Shabbat in Spain, and have introduced the ritual to many expats and locals alike. For Patrick, the ritual elicits the same sense of belonging that he felt growing up in the tight-knit Asian American church community.

For Jessica, motherhood has been the ultimate way to further reconnect with the rituals from her maternal Jewish lineage — equipping Ezra with the rich spiritual tool kit she’s spent a lifetime seeking out. “It’s been really reassuring to know that you can build a home and a life anywhere,” says Jessica. “Thinking spiritually and globally expands our perception of what’s possible.”

“There’s nothing textbook about this experience,” Patrick adds, “so we constantly have to check in with each other and make sure we’re prioritizing what matters most. We’re grateful. Life’s too short not to be.”

Where to Eat and Play in Mallorca

The Yees’ favorite local spots.

  • Ca na Toneta

    This is our favorite restaurant on the island, owned by three sisters. The soulful experience includes prix-fixe farm-to-table eats and a killer natural wine selection.

  • Es Racó d'Artà

    This property is an incredibly peaceful, elegant, and thoughtful retreat on acres of private land.

  • Sa Foradada

    This restaurant is accessible only by boat and well worth the journey. This famous paella spot is perched on a cliff alongside a breathtakingly beautiful cove.

  • Cala Llombards

    This is our favorite sandy beach that our son loves to play on. It’s set against a small cliff that you can easily walk along and jump off — into the most electric turquoise waters you have ever seen.

  • Café Riutort

    This spot’s our favorite local cafe in Palma. Owned by a sweet Mallorquin couple, its menu is fresh and new each day. We dream about their dark chocolate, sea salt, and pistachio cookies!

  • Ca na Toneta

    This is our favorite restaurant on the island, owned by three sisters. The soulful experience includes prix-fixe farm-to-table eats and a killer natural wine selection.

  • Cala Llombards

    This is our favorite sandy beach that our son loves to play on. It’s set against a small cliff that you can easily walk along and jump off — into the most electric turquoise waters you have ever seen.

  • Es Racó d'Artà

    This property is an incredibly peaceful, elegant, and thoughtful retreat on acres of private land.

  • Café Riutort

    This spot’s our favorite local cafe in Palma. Owned by a sweet Mallorquin couple, its menu is fresh and new each day. We dream about their dark chocolate, sea salt, and pistachio cookies!

  • Sa Foradada

    This restaurant is accessible only by boat and well worth the journey. This famous paella spot is perched on a cliff alongside a breathtakingly beautiful cove.


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Our Contributors

Jenn Tardif Writer

Jenn Tardif is the founder of the mindful collective 3rd Ritual, a certified aromatherapist, and a writer. A devout student of Taoism, yoga, and mindfulness, Tardif is a firm believer that wisdom lights the path to well-being, and has made a lifelong commitment to share the teachings with anyone curious enough to learn more.

Silvia Gil-Roldán Photographer

Silvia Gil-Roldán is a photographer from Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain). Her work as a photographer is deeply connected to her experience as a graphic designer.

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