First person: Men’s trip to Israel returns with a mission

 

We’ve returned from a men’s’ trip to Israel and we’ve come back with a mission — keep it going.

I traveled with six other “dads” from Milwaukee’s greater Jewish community, on the Momentum Men’s Trip to Israel from Nov. 11-17, 2019. Momentum Men’s theme is #ChooseAwesome. Being awesome Momentum-style means to be the best person you can be, and the trip revolved around being a better dad, a better spouse and a better Jew. 

The impact of the trip may be best expressed through a brief snapshot. On a Momentum Men’s trip (this was not the first) there are some guys who have never celebrated their bar mitzvah, many of whom may feel like they have never taken their formal place in the Jewish community. Towards the end of the trip, Momentum holds a bar mitzvah celebration on top of Masada. It is held on Thursday, and consists of Torah reading; allowing men who have never been called to the Torah to take their rightful place as active participants in the Jewish communal life of the synagogue.

As it happens, one member of the Milwaukee contingent this year had never had a bar mitzvah. That moment, surrounded by a group of guys who had become a family, felt to him like the right time to celebrate his membership in the Jewish community. As he was formally called to carry the Torah, his new brothers surrounded him with song, dance and love. Making the ceremony even more special, another of the brothers-from-another-father is a kohen (priest). He, along with the other kohanim, invoked the priestly blessing, tying a meaningful bow on a powerful event. 

The intrepid travelers came back with that aforementioned mission: take this trip and make it a part of your life. With regular meetings planned for the next year, you can be sure these guys will #ChooseAwesome.

The trips are an effort of YES Connections, itself an arm of Yeshiva Elementary School. YES Connections has a mission to build relationships between members of the entire Milwaukee Jewish Community. There is arguably no more effective way to build a relationship than to spend uninterrupted time together. Add to that the emotional and spiritually-charged atmosphere of Israel, and you are almost guaranteed a very special bond on one of these trips.

YES Connections is planning another Momentum trip for Fall, 2020. If you are a dad with at least one child under the age of 18, you may be eligible. Please contact me by email at RabbiBrody@YesMilwaukee.org.

Rabbi Rabbi Hillel Brody is director of community outreach at Yeshiva Elementary School.