Jewish ‘Momentum’ fostered through Israel journey for moms
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Israel travelTrip begins Nov. 1

Jewish ‘Momentum’ fostered through Israel journey for moms

Educational tours of the Jewish state resume for first time since the pandemic

Momentum’s Pittsburgh cohort in 2018 (Photo courtesy of Chani Altein)
Momentum’s Pittsburgh cohort in 2018 (Photo courtesy of Chani Altein)

In a word, life-changing.

That’s how Robyn Friedberg describes the Momentum trip she took to Israel in 2018.

“It was educational, informative, emotional — it was such a wonderful trip,” said Friedberg, who grew up in Squirrel Hill and lives in Fox Chapel.

“For me, just going to Israel and embracing all the others on this trip, something happened inside me, and I wanted to embrace Shabbat and become more Jewishly aware.”

Now, a two-year wait for new Momentum trips is over.

Women on the Nov. 1-8 trip to Israel will be the first Pittsburgh cohort to experience the Momentum journey since COVID-19 restricted travel back in 2020. A two-day itinerary extension, tailor-made for Pittsburghers, will allow the cohort to travel to Pittsburgh’s sister cities of Karmiel and Misgav. Momentum partners, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and Classrooms Without Borders, will coordinate pre- and post-travel activities that will extend through a year.

Chani Altein, co-director of Chabad of Squirrel Hill, helped lead the first Momentum trip in 2017 and will do likewise with the 2022 trip.
The goal of the adventure, offered to moms with children younger than 18, is to empower women to connect with Jewish values, engage with Israel, take action and foster unity, Altein said.

“It’s super-exciting,” Altein said. “I personally feel more ready than ever to dive back into this trip.”

The program is “really mom-geared and mom-focused,” she added. “The message behind it is to empower moms — and they do a great job with it.”

The philosophy of Momentum, a Maryland-based nonprofit, is that an inspired mother will inspire her family; her family will inspire the community; and community transformation will model world renewal, Federation officials said.

The itinerary includes Tel Aviv, Tzfat, Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea, and the cooperative village of Neve Ilan. Each day explores a theme of personal growth offered by a Jewish leader or speaker, Altein said.

“I love the talks,” Altein said. “I probably enjoy the talks more than I enjoy the sightseeing — it’s fantastic.”

Carolyn Slayton, the Federation’s young adult programming associate, will co-lead the trip with Altein.

Friedberg isn’t the only participant to rave about Momentum.

“It was life-changing,” said Amy Oven, who grew up in Mt. Lebanon and lives in Moon Township. “I’ve never been so tired at the end of a vacation. You are totally immersed sunrise to sunset — more, actually.”

Oven, who traveled with Momentum in 2019, said the trip is very formative, both as an individual experience and something shared with a cohort of Pittsburgh moms.

“The friendships I created? I’m in daily contact with the women I went with,” she said.

Applications for the Nov. 1-8 journey close on Sunday, March 27. Partner organizations underwrite travel; airfare is typically each woman’s largest expense.

For details, visit MomentumUnlimited.org. PJC

Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

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