The Jewish women’s movement Momentum brought 100 women from France, Belgium, and Switzerland to Israel in a trip that kicked off last week with the aim of strengthening their Jewish identity.
After working with The Jewish Agency for Israel on a pilot trip for 20 French-speaking women last year, participants of that experience proceeded to recruit women in their communities for this year’s trip, which marks Momentum’s first full cohort of French speakers in the movement’s history.
Momentum, a global movement that helps women deeply connect to their Jewish values and to the State of Israel, prides itself on partnering with a wide array of national, local, and international organizations who helped make this trip possible. As such, the organization worked again with The Jewish Agency for Israel and diverse local organizations, such as Shofar, an online educational resource, and Roche, a network of Jewish businesswomen, and community organizations across France.
Dr. Katia Attali-Soussay, an eye surgeon based in Paris who came on the pilot trip last year, enjoyed her experience so much that she decided to recruit eight women to join her on this year’s journey.
“The trip helped me feel good about my Judaism. Being in Israel elicited so many positive emotions and I felt like I was in the right place,” she said. “I can’t wait to introduce other women to the Momentum experience. During their time here, I hope they understood what kind of Judaism represents the best fit for them. There’s no right way to be Jewish.”
Since Momentum was founded in 2009, the movement has brought 22,000 participants from 34 countries and nearly 378 partner organizations (and growing) to Israel. This flagship Israel experience is a partnership between Momentum and Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. The partnership with Momentum was led by Jewish Agency for Israel in France, with the support of the Passerel Foundation.
During their eight-day trip, which marks the start of the Momentum Year-long Journey, the French-speaking women visited the Ethiopian Israeli Heritage Center, a venue for exploring and appreciating Ethiopian Jews in Israel, heard their stories and learned about their traditions through food and dance; visited Mount Masada, where the women could choose to take on a Hebrew name; and saw emotional and iconic attractions in Jerusalem, including the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center, Mt. Herzl, and the Western Wall. Their trip also coincided with Jerusalem Day, giving the women an opportunity to celebrate with the thousands of Israelis who take the streets to celebrate the holiday.
The delegation also heard from renowned leaders such as renowned educator Miriam Peretz, who is also a French speaker, and Gael Grunewald, head of the Department of Education of the World Zionist Organization, who briefed them on how to be an advocate for Israel in France, especially considering the concerning state of antisemitism in the country.
Once the women return home, they’ll continue to work with their partner organization to learn and engage in many social opportunities throughout the course of the year, as part of a greater effort to be contributing and meaningful members of their local Jewish communities.