Diaspora Minister Naftali Bennett: ‘Being a Jew has meaning … to fix the world’

TEL AVIV, Israel, May 17 – More than 800 Jewish mothers from 10 countries around the world celebrated a life-changing journey to Israel this month, at a Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) Mega Event on Monday in partnership with the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.

Headlining the Mega Event was Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett, who discussed future of the Diaspora-Israel relationship, the role women of women in strengthening ties between the Jewish state and the Jewish people, and current issues facing Israel. The Mega Event took place at the Wohl Centre, Bar Ilan University.

“Being a Jew has a meaning – we have a mission – to fix the world,” he told the gathering. And “Israel is an exemplar to the world.”

The Jewish mothers journeyed to Israel from Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Germany, Mexico, Panama, South Africa and the U.S. Some Israelis also participated.

Featuring the theme “Beginnings,” the “Momentum Mega Event” launched the JWRP’s specialized “Momentum” trips for hundreds of Jewish mothers, while culminating the journey for hundreds of others. The entire experience empowers the women, inspiring them to engage with Israel and Israelis, connect to their Jewish identities, develop new leadership skills and – ultimately – to build their communities back home. The Momentum trips stretch from the mystical Galilee city of Safed to the ancient desert mountaintop fortress Masada, and feature extensive itineraries and curated curricula from Jewish values to contemporary Israeli society. 

JWRP Founding Director Lori Palatnik, referring to the Momentum participants, said: “We always say the last day of the trip is the first day of their journey. For the very first time, we will be saying ‘l'hitraot’ to 400 Jewish mothers finishing their trip, while welcoming hundreds more who literally just landed. There are no words to describe the power of 800 Jewish mothers under the same roof, with all of the energy, emotions and inspiration.  They return to their families ready to lift them into a new commitment to Israel, their Jewish values and their home communities.”

The JWRP and Ministry of Diaspora Affairs recently announced an historic partnership to dramatically expand the JWRP’s life-changing trips for over 5,600 Jewish mothers from 26 countries around the world. The landmark partnership for 2016 and 2017 will also allow JWRP and the Ministry to involve women from Jewish communities facing increased threats of anti-Semitism and economic hardship, especially in Argentina, Cuba, the former Soviet Union, France, the U.S., and Canada.

Since 2009, more than 7,300 Jewish mothers from 150 partner organizations in 26 countries spanning several continents including Australia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America have experienced the Momentum trips. Participants commit to getting involved in activities when they return home, including community events, Israel engagement programs, Jewish education, global learning, leadership development and Momentum Israel missions for husbands.

Also speaking at the mega event was Sivan Yaari, the founder and CEO of Innovation Africa, and Zohar Raviv, the international vice president of education for Taglit Birthright Israel.

The group of 10 Cuban-Jewish women in Jerusalem before joining Monday’s mega event.

JWRP Founding Director Lori Palatnik with city leaders and guides at Monday’s mega event.

Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett with JWRP Founding Director Lori Palatnik at Monday’s Momentum Mega Event.