Women light candles for Shabbat.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, which brings Jewish mothers on Birthright-style visits to Israel, announced this week that it had launched a campaign to enable Jewish women it deems to be “at-risk” to experience the trips as well.
JWRP was founded in 2008, with the mission of empowering women to change the world through Jewish values. Its central project is “Momentum,” a nine-day, subsidized journey to Israel. Since 2014, the JWRP has partnered with the Diaspora Affairs Ministry in this effort.
The group’s latest campaign, “No Woman Left Behind,” seeks to bring to Israel Jewish mothers in countries facing rising antisemitism or declining Jewish heritage. “Countries like Poland, France, Hungary, and Romania are now facing the greatest wave of antisemitism since WWII. These communities are ‘at-risk’ because entire generations have little to no connection to their Jewish heritage,” the organization explains. “And if one generation has no knowledge or understanding of Judaism, how can they pass anything along to the next generation and stand strong against the forces against them?” JWRP warns that without an exerted effort to prevent the dilution of Jewish identity in these countries, “the flames of Judaism in France and Eastern Europe and other disconnected countries will flicker out. Long lines of generations of Jews will end.”
The campaign was launched last week, and has already raised over $100,000 of its $250,000 goal, which will enable the organization to bring more than 80 additional women to Israel. The mothers pay for their own airfare and a nominal application fee and $50 in tips, but are awarded a $2,400 scholarship by JWRP and its partner organizations to pay for the rest of the trip.
JWRP supporters Debra and David Magerman are providing a matching dollar-for-dollar grant, doubling each dollar donated. “Your matched gift will ignite a movement of women from “at-risk” countries, inspiring a commitment to Israel, Judaism, and the very survival of their communities,” the campaign page states.
The trip is designed for women who are not already Shabbat observant, who have a child at home under the age of 18, and who are emotionally and physically well. The organization brings together groups of women who live in or around the same city, with the aim of “creating a community at home.”
Participating in the campaign appeal, Laura Troyanovky from Moscow, describes how her journey to Israel with JWRP brought her and subsequently her family, closer to their Jewish roots. “After this trip, we started keeping Shabbat from time to time with my kids. We starting talking more and reading books, and baking halla.”
“Momentum trips provide Jewish mothers with soul-stirring Israel experiences, enabling them to return home and transform their families and the wider Jewish community,” said Lori Palatnik, the JWRP’s founding director. “While we have already taken thousands of women to Israel, we want to leave no woman behind. This campaign will enable us to embrace so many more of our sisters around the world.”
Since 2009, the JWRP, in partnership with 150 partner organizations in 26 countries, has brought more than 8,000 women to Israel. The organization aims to bring another 3,500 Jewish mothers to Israel, including those from at-risk communities, in 2017.