Momentum brings Jewish women to Israel on empowerment mission

Many of the women had felt disconnected from their Jewish identities after marrying non-Jews and felt the program was an empowering return.

 100 women on Momentum mission of empowerment, 2023 (photo credit: MOMENTUM)
100 women on Momentum mission of empowerment, 2023
(photo credit: MOMENTUM)

Over a hundred French-speaking women last month traveled to Israel for an immersive year-long program that dives into the complex topics surrounding Judaism and Israel, as part of a Momentum program which is partnered with the Jewish Agency.

The trip was also planned in coordination with Shofar, an online educational resource, and Roche, a network of Jewish businesswomen and community organizations across France. 

The women, who came from France, Belgium and Switzerland, were Momentum’s first full cohort of French speakers. The program kicked off with an eight-day trip to Israel.

Connecting with their Jewish identities

One of the attendees, Mariam Levy Turner who grew up in Israel on a Kibbutz, said that she had become fully assimilated once she moved to Geneva at age 22. She married a non-Jew, had three children and embedded herself in Swiss culture.

Turner said that she had been inspired to join the program after seeing “death to Israel” posters on the streets of Geneva.

 Momentum programme, 2023 (credit: MOMENTUM)
Momentum programme, 2023 (credit: MOMENTUM)

“I saw myself staring at my children’s future 10, 20 years down the line. How can I tell them to not marry a non-Jew when I did the same? How can I tell them to keep the mitzvot when I don’t bother to do so? How can I tell them to be proud of being Israeli when I left the country in my youth?” 

Diane Evard, another woman on the program, said that she had been cut off from most of the Jewish community in France. She joined the program after her sister-in-law encouraged her.

“We tell [my children] they're Jewish even though their father isn’t,” Evard, who also married a non-Jew, explained. “I wanted Momentum to teach me how to explain what Judaism is and how they can feel more connected to their religion.” 

“I thought I was the only one like me — alone, a Jew surrounded by non-Jews. Turns out there are a lot of us and this yearning to give our children something to hold onto in terms of spirituality is a common goal. We all wanted to feel like we were part of something.”

Momentum is a global organization that aims to help women connect to their Jewish identity and to the State of Israel.