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200 Jewish mothers from around the world visit Israel in a display of solidarity

Participants hailed from six countries, including the United States, Panama, South Africa, Canada and Australia.

Jewish mothers from around the world took part in a Momentum solidarity mission to Israel that coincided with the country's Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut holidays, May 13-19, 2024. Photo by Aviram Valdman.
Jewish mothers from around the world took part in a Momentum solidarity mission to Israel that coincided with the country's Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut holidays, May 13-19, 2024. Photo by Aviram Valdman.

A group of 200 women from six different countries arrived in Israel on Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) as part of a six-day solidarity mission organized by the Jewish women’s movement Momentum that wrapped up on May 19. It was geared towards fortifying and appreciating Israeli resilience during the war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Momentum, which works closely with the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism, brings Jewish parents from around the world—the majority of whom are mothers—to Israel to help connect them to their heritage. While this is the organization’s fifth mission since Oct. 7, the tone and theme of this particular trip reflected the story of Israel today, which is one of remembrance and commemoration, but also growth and revival.

As such, participants—many of whom are in Israel for the first time—witnessed Israel’s most somber Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) since its founding in 1948.

Upon arrival, they took part in a Yom Hazikaron ceremony for Machal soldiers at Sha’ar Hagai and on Yom Ha’atzmaut enjoyed a festive meal with 300 evacuees from Kibbutz Alumim. The rest of the trip was infused with fostering solidarity for those affected by Oct. 7, including visiting the Nova music festival memorial site, where they heard a survivor tell her story, and visiting Kibbutz Re’im, which was significantly attacked that Black Shabbat. The mission also provided participants with several volunteer opportunities, such as harvesting crops at a local farm, assembling care packages for soldiers and donating blood.

Participants hailed from six countries, including the United States, Panama, South Africa, Canada and Australia. Native Israelis also took part, sharing their personal stories from the war as a way to act as a living bridge between the Jewish state and the Diaspora.

Mission participant Michelle Jaffe of Cape Town, South Africa, said, “I’ve always been proudly Jewish. Since Oct. 7, I’ve never felt closer to my community. People in my community are quite scared to advocate for Israel now, and we’ve felt totally helpless. On this amazing trip, I want to harness the resilience the Israeli people are facing and bring it back to my community at home.”

The volunteer activities and emotional meetings are meant to inspire and prepare attendees to engage in meaningful dialogue so those in their home communities understand the gravity of the situation in Israel. The mission is also a powerful display of Jewish parental leadership in action.

Momemtum Mothers Trip to Israel
Jewish mothers from around the world donate blood during a Momentum solidarity mission to Israel that coincided with the country’s Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut holidays, May 13-19, 2024. Photo by Aviram Valdman.

“The goal of this delegation is to express our unwavering support for the State of Israel, where we took part in meaningful conversations and dedicated our time to volunteer to help those in need,” said Lori Palatnik, founding director of Momentum. “Momentum has brought hundreds of participants since the outbreak of the war as a display of global unity for the country so Israelis can understand the Jewish Diaspora is standing behind them.”

She added: “Yes, our participants met a variety of Israelis in distress during this challenging time, but they also witnessed the Israeli commitment to rebuild amid the ruins. This is the message we want the Jewish world to understand—Am Yisrael may be in mourning, but they are not broken. This is the resounding message they heard from families of hostages, soldiers, farmers and many more who echoed Israel’s deep commitment to ensuring their own resilience.”

The trip is just one aspect of the organization’s comprehensive Momentum Mobilizes Campaign. The multi-pronged initiative was spearheaded in the early days of the war to create a connection to what’s happening in Israel; deliver support through educational initiatives; and inspire action through opportunities to do something positive for Israel in their own Jewish communities.

Momentum worked with dozens of partner organizations worldwide to recruit participants. Specifically, the organization coordinated with the Jewish Agency for Israel’s P2G program and the Jewish Federations of North America to bring participants from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Calgary Jewish Federation, Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine, Center for Jewish Philanthropy of Greater Phoenix and the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.

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Momentum is a global movement focused on the greatest influencer – the Jewish mother. Through transformational journeys to Israel, leadership fellowships, a robust multimedia platform, and expansive resources for Jewish learning, Momentum inspires Jewish mothers to live their most meaningful lives and transform themselves, their families, and their communities. Since Momentum’s founding in 2008, more than 23,000 individuals from 35 countries have experienced Momentum’s flagship program, the Momentum Yearlong Journey. In 2023, Momentum was awarded the Jerusalem Unity Prize for its dedication to promoting unity without uniformity in Israel and across the Jewish world. Momentum is where Jewish comes to life.

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