Group travels to Israel to connect with Jewish heritage – Florida Times-Union

Posted By on July 20, 2017

Twenty Jewish mothers from Jacksonville travelled to Israel for eight days for a Momentum journey with the Jewish Womens Renaissance Project and Israels Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.

The trip, which took place June 26-July 3, began in the city of Safed and ended in Masada, a national park in Israel.

The goal of the experience was to connect the women with their Jewish heritage while transforming themselves and ultimately their families and the community they live in and getting them to think about how they can make the world a better place.

Friends and Julington Creek residents Sheri Weiss and Sara Gross decided to go on the trip together.

Several of my friends have gone on the trip before and they were always telling me to do it, so this year I decided to go, Weiss said. It had been 30 years since Ive visited Israel and this was a soul-searching opportunity.

Gross said there was an interview process and you had to be able to physically be able to go on the trip as a lot of walking was involved.

For me, it was a spiritual journey to get back in touch with my Judaism, she said. After my divorce, I separated myself from my religion and I wanted to work on myself in a lot of areas and thought this would be the best way to do that.

Erica Jolles, a St. Johns resident, was supposed to travel to Israel several years ago, but backed out at the last minute.

Id known about the trip from several different friends and I had never gone to Israel, she said. I came back with a love for Israel and a greater understanding as to why people have such a passion about it.

The women attended a class each day during the trip that had a spiritual element before visiting a site in Israel, including the stock exchange and Independence Hall in Tel Aviv.

Colleen Bell, an Avondale resident and medical director for behavioral health at Sulzbacher Center, said praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalems Old City was one of the most memorable experiences on the trip.

I wasnt expecting to be moved as much as I was, she said. It was amazing.

The trip was part of Israels Ministry of Diaspora Affairs efforts to strengthen the countrys relationship with Diaspora communities around the world, said Director General Dvir Kahana.

We are extremely proud of our strategic partnership with the Jewish Womens Renaissance Project, he said in a statement. We share the vision of empowering Jewish women worldwide as leaders of the next generation with the ability and drive to raise children who are proud of their identity and strongly connected to Israel.

The Jewish Womens Renaissance Project aims to empower women to change the world through Jewish values.

More than 10,000 people from nearly 30 countries have experienced the organizations Momentum trip.

Our philosophy from the beginning has always been: inspire a woman, you inspire a family, Lori Palatnik, Jewish Womens Renaissance Project founding director, said in a statement. Inspire enough families, you can change a community. Inspire enough communities, you can change the world.

Now that the group of 20 women has returned to Jacksonville, they will meet once a month for the remainder of the year to continue their spiritual journey with curriculum provided by the Jewish Womens Renaissance Project.

Gross said shes looking forward to getting together with the group.

I feel like I have a group of sisters now, she said. Ive known several of them for a long time, but Ive expanded the horizon of strong, independent women.

Jolles added, What I came away with is a group of women, some who knew each other and some who didnt, and we left there with an amazing bond, which hopefully will continue.

Ann Friedman: (904) 359-4619

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Group travels to Israel to connect with Jewish heritage - Florida Times-Union

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