With a mission statement that reads, “To empower women to change the world through Jewish values that transform ourselves, our families, and our communities,” the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) has been making news for the work they do — namely the MOMentum project.
This project involves subsidizing Jewish mothers who have never visited Israel to be able to do so for the first time.
Based in Maryland, the JWRP was founded in 2008 with the express purpose of empowering Jewish women to impact the world through principles of Judaism. In 2009, they inaugurated their MOMentum project described on their website as “an eight-day journey in Israel, connecting us to the land, to our Jewish values, and to each other.” Over 11,000 mothers from all over the world have been brought to Israel with MOMentum since the inception of this project.
Advertised as a trip that reaches from Safed in the Galilee to the Masada mountain top in the desert and a full itinerary in between, MOMentum participants get to float in the Dead Sea, pray at the Western Wall and visit Tel Aviv with no shortage of photo-ops.
Joined in their endeavors by Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs since 2013, the first-time visitors to Israel do more than sightseeing. Designed to have transformation in their lives by connecting with Judaism, on the MOMentum trip, the women spend time investing in various non-profit organizations in Israeli communities.
These include places that help Israelis across the spectrum of society such as Kfar Yeladim David, a home for disadvantaged children-orphans, victims of abuse and neglect, Shalva National Children’s Center, an organization that provides programs for children with special needs, Thank Israeli Soldiers, One Family that assists terror attack victims, and Yad Lakashish that provides for elderly Jerusalemites, to mention a few. The MOMentum mothers take their experiences back home with them and share with their local sphere of influence and potentially further afield.
“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 said. “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.”
Many thousands of mothers who have already participated in the project have been in the spotlight recently. TV stations and newspapers in the United State have reported on the MOMentum trips and given a platform for the Jewish mothers on their return from their life-changing trip to share their experiences. These major TV networks include ABC, NBC and Fox.
Lori Palatnik, founding director of JWRP, stated that women often express concern about leaving their children for eight days for a MOMentum trip.
“They are not leaving their kids, they are going for their kids,” he explained. “What they will gain on this life-changing trip will spill over into their homes in the most beautiful and profound way.”
In 2013, the JWRP started men’s trips and close to 1,000 men have already participated in this new project.