Jerusalem, Israel - Dec. 4, 2017 - How much can you accomplish on a trip to Israel in a week? An incredible amount, if you were one of the thirty Jewish social-media mavens who experienced the vibe of Tel Aviv and the spirituality of Tzfat, visited the Ziv Hospital treating Syrian patients, and saw the highs and lows of Jerusalem, that included a magical Shabbos which was followed by the mud and salts of the Dead Sea.
In 2008, eight Jewish women got together, and from the spark of an idea founded the Jewish Women's Renaissance Project (JWRP). Since 2009, JWRP has been connecting women from around the world to Israel with trips nicknamed "Birthright for Mommys" with over 15,000 participants. "Inspire a woman, you inspire a family. Inspire enough families, you inspire a community. Inspire enough communities, you can change the world" is JWRP's message. Its major project “Momentum,” an eight-day, highly subsidized life-changing journey to Israel, has sponsored women’s and men’s groups and partnered with 190 organizations in 26 countries worldwide.
One of JWRP Momentum's latest groups, partnered with the Israel Ministry of Tourism, is called Media Magnets. “Our Media Magnets are strong, savvy Jewish women who millions of people turn to for their insights each day,” said group leader Adrienne Gold Davis. “The JWRP is thrilled to be bringing these incredible women to Israel and helping both them and their fans connect to Jewish values and make the world a better place.”
The tour went from November 27 to December 4, 2017. BJL was privileged to accompany the Media Magnets on their tour of Yad Vashem, which was followed by a visit to Har Herzl Military Cemetery. It was an emotional and moving morning. In the Yad Vashem synagogue, three of the women learned the fate of their relatives lost in the Shoah, as discovered by Yad Vashem researchers. The group’s meeting with Miriam Perez, whose two sons fell in Israel’s wars, was both depressing and uplifting. Perez looks up to the heavens for light to find meaning in her loss, while sharing her story with over 1000 soldiers a week in Israel and increasingly with audiences overseas.
On Friday morning, a visit to Machane Yehuda Market provided ethnic food tasting and great photo-ops for the social media trend-setters.
As with Birthright trips, JWRP missions are apolitical with no religious coercion; however, respect for others is encouraged, and no trip to Israel is complete without a stop at the Western Wall. On a beautiful, sunny morning, after placing notes in the cracks of the Wall, a group of the women sat quietly and enjoyed the moment, before rushing off to shop, tour, and prepare for early Shabbos.
Among the participants were Michaela Watkins, a former cast member of “Saturday Night Live” and Amy Kritzer, founder of the cooking blog ”What Jew Wanna Eat” and author of the cookbook “Sweet Noshings.”
The participants were not all from the US. They included Erica Ehm, the founder of Canada’s Yummy Mummy Club, and fellow Canadians, twin fashion bloggers Cailli and Samantha Beckerman, and Toronto-based writer, blogger and author Emma Waverman.
Amber Katz, founder of a beauty blog, and Chaya Lichtenstein, who started online with a focus on food and now has a large Instagram following, were enjoying it all.
Ciaran Blumenfeld is a mother, entrepreneur and social media expert, while Deborah Gilboa is a family physician as well as mother and media personality.
Journalist and television producer Denise Albert is a marketing maven with two sons. Culture and travel blogger Holly Rosen Fink, posted a photo collage on Instagram of the food from the shuk, and yes, it was as good as it looked.
Joyce Shulman gave up life as a commercial litigator to focus on family and community, and founded an e-newsletter called Marconi Kid which reaches millions of mothers.
Lyss Stern was a marketing and event organizer, and after giving birth to her first child, she started an on-line presence which has flourished. Melissa Chapman is a parenting blogger and editor, who still remembers her Zionism class from Yeshivah of Flatbush.
Former MSNBC reporter, Melissa Musen Gerstein, lives in NYC with her husband and three children and was a founding partner of Moms & The City. Family issues blogger Nancy Johnson Horn lives in NYC with her family.
Natalie Klein, mother of two young children, is a celebrity and entertainment world expert with a reach to millions. Natalie Zfat, online business woman and writer, has a loyal following of hundreds of thousands.
Rebecca Levey is a family-focused digital marketing expert with a spot on CBS radio,
Now in living in California with her family, Sara Gottfried graduated from Harvard Medical School and has authored three books, among a long list of accomplishments.
Wendy Diamond, founder of pet-related businesses, was called “the Martha Stewart of the milk-bone dish” by the New Yorker.
Ilana Wiles is the creator of the parenting blog Mommy Shorts; Sarah Maizes, vice president of Children’s Entertainment at The Jim Henson Company lives in Los Angeles with her family and contributes to many media outlets.
Emmy Award-winning network television producer, former Capitol Hill press secretary Wendy Sachs, is author of "Fearless and Free: How Smart Women Pivot and Relaunch their Careers."
Not all are into just food and fashion and family issues; Erin Schrode has developed and encouraged eco-education for millions of students
Annabelle Blum, a Venezuelan television and radio personality, added a Spanish presence to the mostly North American women's mission. So did Jeannette Kaplun who lives in Miami and is the founder and CEO of Hispana Global.
Finally, ‘Jewish Chick’ asked to remain anonymous. She was born in Lithuania and came to US as a child. Jewish Chick is a Brandeis University graduate who worked in finance until she had a child and became a stay-at-home mother. With her business background she has built a fashion following on Facebook and Instagram with tens of thousands of followers.
Thirty talented, bright, and personable women experienced Israel for a week, some for the first time, others had not been here in many years, and at least one recently made a daughter's Bat Mitzvah in Jerusalem. Israel is trying to boost tourism which is already at record numbers, and these social Media Magnets, are mavens with the potential to reach millions in the future.
JWRP has many Maryland connections including, Ruth Baars, director of Programs, Yaakov Singer, Mindy Berger, Ariella Milobsky, and Sara Modi.