Momentum, the organization that brings mothers to Israel for a Birthright style visit, is more relevant today than ever before.
Speaking to Israel National News at the IAC National Summit in Florida, Lori Palatnik, founding director of Momentum, talks about the way that Israeli mothers – and now fathers – are rediscovering Israel “through fresh eyes” on Momentum trips.
For the last few years, they have been partnering with the IAC to bring Israelis on trips back to Israel.
“Israelis have a very complex relationship with their Jewish identity,” Palatnik says. “So when they leave Israel they have their primary identity which is I'm Israeli. But how long can you hold on to your Israeliness. Their kids are now American or Canadian, so where do they fit? Unfortunately, there is a very high inter-marriage rate amongst the next generation of Israelis. When they come on Momentum, they come as Israelis and they leave as Jews. They're still Israeli. As one told me before Momentum, I was Israeli and I’m Jewish and then after momentum I’m Jewish and I’m Israeli.”
What is the secret to Momentum? Is it the visit at the Kotel or the visit to Yad Vashem or something else altogether? Perhaps the trip in its entirety?
“As one Israeli told me, ‘You showed me my own country through the lens of the soul.’ It’s really a soul journey. It's a spiritual journey. Our primary target are mothers with children at home under the age of 18. They are looking at the world through different eyes than when they were teenagers and they came to Israel. They're looking for wisdom. They're looking for guidance, and they're looking for a meaningful sisterhood, which is what they gain.”
After women began asking about their husbands, a few years ago they added trips for men.
“We started bringing trips for men which are differently designed,” she says. “Instead of eight days, it’s seven days. Everybody signs up for a one-year Momentum year. There is a one-year follow-up.”
She explains that the trip is just as emotional for the men as it is for the women.
“I’ve never seen men so emotional in my life. They cry like babies and they create a brotherhood, not about sports, not about politics, not about business, but again about a soul connection.”
The trips are a very real ‘game changer.’
“Once you come on this experience, five years post trip, 26 of the participants are taking their kids out of public school and putting them into a Jewish day school. That’s a game changer,” she says.
Momentum has worked closely with the Ministry of Diaspora affairs, beginning about four years ago, to expand to Eastern Europe.
“If the Ministry of Diaspora affairs looks at the world outside of Israel, we're a people and and we are responsible for one another,” she says. “It's really such a pleasure to be part of their projects.”