A new trend of American Jewish mothers who decide to visit Israel for the first time in their lives has gotten significant coverage in American media in recent weeks.
Even major TV networks, such as Fox, ABC and NBC, reported about the “MOMentum” trips, a Zionist project organized by the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) and Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.
“MOMentum” is an eight-day subsidized journey in Israel. More than 11,000 Jewish mothers from 26 countries around the world—most coming from the United States—have already taken part in the project. To be eligible for the journey, women must have children under 18, not observe Shabbat, and have never been to Israel before.
According to JWRP, the “MOMentum” trip stretches from the mystical Galilee city of Safed to the ancient desert mountaintop fortress Masada, and features extensive itineraries and curated curricula encompassing everything from Jewish values to contemporary Israeli society. Among other things, the mothers climb Masada, bathe in the Dead Sea, travel to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, pray at the Western Wall, and get photographed against the backdrop of the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock.
The trips inspire women to connect deeply with their Jewish heritage, and transform themselves, their families, and ultimately their communities and the wider world.
During the journey, the Jewish mothers meet with mothers from Israel and from all over the Jewish world—meetings aimed at creating friendships across the continents. The mothers also meet soldiers and young Israelis who are about to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and some of them receive Hebrew names during ceremonies in the Judean Desert.
JWRP was founded in Maryland in 2008 to promote the empowerment of Jewish women, whom they realized could change the world through Jewish values.
The project, and the thousands of mothers who have already participated, have been covered by multiple US TV stations and newspapers, which dedicated reports to the Israel journeys and interviewed the Jewish mothers, who shared their incredible experiences with tearful eyes upon their return home.
One of them, Amanda Rothbard of Philadelphia, told a local Fox affiliate: “This was the first time I visited Israel. I was selected from over 40 applicants. I went there not knowing one person, and I left there with 23-plus sisters and family. We learned how to really empower ourselves as women, how to be better wives and mothers and friends.”
Rothbard added, “We went to a military base and met young Israelis before they enlisted in the army. In Israel you don’t have any choice—they graduate high school and go straight to the military. We got the chance to meet those who will be the next IDF leaders, the sergeants and lieutenants. They really love their country. As a mother, to not have a choice to send my child off to war—and I met with many of their mothers—it was such an empowering and emotional journey.”
Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs partnered with JWRP in 2013 after identifying it as a strategic and important project.
“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 Dvir Kahana, director general of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. “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 to ensure a thriving future for the Jewish people.”