Growing up in Milwaukee with my parents, brothers and grandparents and living in different parts of the country ever since, I truly value every moment I get to spend with my family. I looked forward to this week together with my mom from the moment she asked me if I wanted to join her on the Heart to Heart trip to Israel.
We created an even deeper bond between us during our journey. At night we talked about what we learned during the day and our own interpretations, laughed as we crawled into bed each night, cried at the Kotel, and I gained a deeper appreciation and understanding of the work of the Federation. I absolutely loved H2H!
From the first morning text study with the rabbi talking about the impact of women’s voices, listening to the heartbreaking and inspiring journey of an Ethiopian-Israeli fashion designer, learning about Haredi entrepreneurial women, hearing about the empowering Jewish Agency loan program, to celebrating at the bat mitzvah ceremony for those who never had one, I experienced more than I ever could have imagined on the trip. I also connected with an amazing group of women. I learned that Jewish Federations of North America brought these incredible women together from across the country, as a sisterhood, for a greater cause, which is beautiful. I loved learning about the Lions of Judah. A few women, including my mom, shared with me their dedication to the Jewish community and passion for the State of Israel. I could really sense the great pride they take in being a Lion of Judah, which has empowered me to reflect, share and want to become more involved in my own Jewish community.
My mom is passionate about her work with the Federation and this incredible hands-on experience in Israel has shown me the power of working together as a community. I was especially impressed with the Ethiopian National Project. As I learned about the hardships suffered by many Ethiopian immigrant families, I sat beside a 12-year-old Ethiopian Israeli who participates in the scholastic assistance program, made possible in part by the Jewish Federations. When asked what she wants to do when she’s older, she confidently announced she aspires to be a film director. I hope to find out what she becomes someday!
I left my own reality living in Boston, wedding planning, my day-to-day life as an intensive care nurse and stepped into the lives of people impacted by the Jewish Federations. It was five days and one night that I will remember for the rest of my life.