Women’s trip to Israel creates bonds

 

If you’re looking to connect with Israel and a sisterhood of women, a Milwaukee Jewish Federation-sponsored Momentum women’s trip may be perfect for you.

 “It was wonderful,” said Marina Chester of Bayside, who went on the trip with the November 2019 group. The best part, she said, was probably just “hanging out with the amazing women.”

Trip Director Dana Margolis was involved with starting the annual trip in Milwaukee even before she joined Milwaukee Jewish Federation. She’s now director of the Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy, but this is not a fundraising trip. In fact, the trip is subsidized by Milwaukee Jewish Federation and other Jewish agencies. Participants are responsible for airfare and a deposit.

The trip is entering its third year. You don’t have to be the queen of Jewish Milwaukee to participate. Priority is given to less engaged women in the Jewish community, Margolis said. Also, women from all streams of Judaism are welcome.

“We were dancing at the Kotel on a Friday night. It was moving and powerful,” said Chester. “It was like you were in a dream for two weeks. I highly recommend this for any women.”

Chester said that she can be cynical by nature, but there’s nothing cynical to say about this women’s experience. “It was opposite of a high school experience,” she said.

“I’ve never taken 10 days away from my family like this,” said Sara Hermanoff of Mequon, who was on the trip with Chester. “Taking 10 days to go to Israel by myself is not in my realm of thinking as a busy mom and a wife.”

But now, she’d recommend the trip in a heartbeat.

It’s truly a year-long journey, with both pre-trip and post-trip programing. Even after the journey, women stay in touch.

“We’ve got together since then. A couple times a month there is an activity from Milwaukee Jewish Federation or we get together and talk,” said Chester. “Lots of laughter with this group,” said Hermanoff.

While in Israel for more than a week, the women tour as a group. They stay at hotels, visit Masada and the Dead Sea, tour the Old City of Jerusalem and spend a day in Tel Aviv. They spend Shabbat with a local family and end their trip in Milwaukee’s partnership region, near the Sea of Galilee.

“It’s a spiritual trip. It’s for thinking about your relationship to yourself, to your children, to God,” Margolis said.

They meet other Momentum women from around the world. They feel part of an “international sisterhood of women,” Margolis said.

The group is built around eight core values, including growth in Jewish values, Israel engagement and community involvement. The program is for mothers with children 18 and under who are living at home. The idea is that if you inspire a woman, you inspire a family, and if you inspire enough families you inspire communities.

During an interview, Margolis flipped quickly through a WhatsApp messaging group of conversation from past participants. It was packed with notes and photos, just from that day.

“It’s not just a trip that ends when you get back.” Margolis said. “I think the main thing that happens is that the women bond with each other in really a deep and meaningful way.”

The whole experience has certainly been meaningful for Chester. Having emigrated from Russia in 1991, she didn’t have Jewish education in her youth.

But in Israel, during the trip, she and other women were given Hebrew names in a ceremony.

Her Hebrew name is now Mayan, which means spring of water, a name given to her while awash in friendship on an Israeli desert.

The 2019 Momentum trip women posed at the northern port of Tel Aviv. Top row: Ilissa Boland, Aree Wichman, Jodi Sprinkmann, Irene Elkin, Michele Ellner, Jennifer Baumann and Armona Nadler-Strick. Bottom Row: Irina Johnson, Reva Fox, Dana Margolis, Marina Chester, Andrea Florsheim, Amy Hodges, Michele Wales, Tzipi Altman-Shafer, Sarah Packman, Sarah Hermanoff and Olga Lesinski.

About this story

This article is about a Milwaukee Jewish Federation trip to Israel in partnership with the national Momentum program. There is also a Momentum trip through The Shul Center in Bayside.

Milwaukee Jewish Federation trip: Contact Dana Margolis at DanaM@MilwaukeeJewish.org.

The Shul Center Women’s trip: Contact Chava Edelman at Chava@ChabadWi.org.

More info and for info on men’s trips: MomentumUnlimited.org.