NEVE ILAN, Israel, Some 450 Jewish mothers from six countries around the world yesterday celebrated a life-changing Momentum trip to Israel, at a Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) mega event held in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. At the event, JWRP and the ministry recognized Lauren Buchwald, an English teacher from Phoenix, as the 10,000th Jewish mother to participate in the Israel journey.
“I was totally surprised – and am so honored – to be recognized as JWRP's 10,000th participant. It had always been a dream of mine to come to Israel, but, until now, I didn't have the funding or the time. I have had friends who went on Momentum trips before and they said coming to Israel with a group of other Jewish women was a truly life-changing experience,” said Buchwald. “I dream of bringing my family here as well some day, but I didn't want to let this opportunity pass me by.”
Headlining the Momentum Mega Event was the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs’ director general, Dvir Kahana, who discussed the future of the Diaspora-Israel relationship, the role of women in strengthening ties between the Jewish state and the Jewish people, and current issues facing Israel. Kahana introduced Buchwald.
“The Momentum trip emphasizes the Israeli government’s commitment towards the Jewish diaspora and provides an unprecedented opportunity for Jewish women from different backgrounds to strengthen their Jewish identities and connections to Israel,” said Kahana. “I see the partnership with JWRP as critical to our vision of empowering women while recognizing their unique role in raising and educating the next generation in order to ensure a thriving future for the Jewish people.”
The Jewish mothers attending the mega event in Israel were from Canada, England, Greece, Russia, and the U.S. Some Israeli women also participated in the trip and yesterday’s event.
The entire Momentum Trip experience will empower the women, inspire them to engage with Israel and Israelis, connect them to their Jewish identities, develop new leadership skills and – ultimately – build their communities back home. The Momentum trips stretch from the mystical Galilee city of Safed to the ancient desert mountaintop fortress Masada, and feature extensive itineraries and curated curricula from Jewish values to contemporary Israeli society.
“Who would have thought in 2008, when this began with eight women from the DC area, that we would see the 10,000th woman on the Momentum Trip? But now, as amazing as it is, I feel we have just begun,” said JWRP Founding Director Lori Palatnik.
Also speaking at the mega event was Rachelle Fraenkel, an educator and the mother of slain teenager Naftali Fraenkel.
The historic partnership between JWRP and Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs is aimed at dramatically expanding the JWRP’s life-changing trips for Jewish mothers from 26 countries around the world. The landmark partnership for 2016 and 2017 will also allow JWRP and the ministry to involve women from Jewish communities facing increased threats of anti-Semitism and economic hardship, especially in Argentina, Cuba, Greece, Turkey and the former Soviet Union.
Since 2009, 10,000 Jewish mothers from 146 partner organizations in 26 countries spanning several continents including Australia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America have experienced the Momentum trips. Participants commit to getting involved in activities when they return home, including community events, Israel engagement programs, Jewish education, global learning, leadership development and Momentum Israel missions for husbands.