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You’re Invited! Find Out About Ultimate Moms Israel Getaway!

"St. Louis Soul Sisters" on the Aish rooftop in the Old City.

“St. Louis Soul Sisters” on the Aish rooftop in the Old City.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions includes doing something adventurous that you’ve never done before, then consider this an opportunity knocking on your door.

Discover what thousands of Jewish moms from all over the world have already taken advantage of—a FREE trip to Israel through the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP). It doesn’t matter if you are religious or not, or whether you’ve been to the Holy Land or not, you owe it to yourself to “Discover The Jew In You.” I’m personally inviting you to find out what this eight-day journey of a lifetime exclusively for moms is all about. And what better way to learn about the JWRP mission than from the “St. Louis Soul Sisters” who were there last summer and learned how to mount (and dismount) a camel without breaking our necks. Not so easy.

Leslie and Elisa hold on for dear life.

Leslie and Elisa hold on for dear life.

Click on this invite below to find out specific dates, times, and addresses of the open houses. We have two locations, Chesterfield and Creve Coeur, because we know you don’t like to drive more than 15-20 minutes to get anywhere in St. Louis.

JWRP Open House

We have so many meaningful and funny stories to share with you we could talk all night, but we know your time is valuable. Thanks to our own personal photographer, Ellen Levy, we also have pictures—lot of them—especially ones that show our ill attempts to hold hands and jump in the air simultaneously in the middle of the desert.

Jumping for "oy" in the dessert.

Jumping for “oy” in the dessert.

Ellie & Cindy jumping in the Old City.

Ellie & Cindy jumping in the Old City.

We invite you to ask us any burning questions you may have. Nothing is off limits, such as:

1. How much will this FREE trip cost me? Everything is covered except airfare, which is typically about $1,800 in the summer. However, financial arrangements and payment plans are available. The trip is highly subsidized by JWRP and Aish St. Louis. Hotel, food, tours, classes, etc. are all paid for, which is at least a $2,500 value. Of course, no one can prevent you from shopping sprees along the way and spending a few shekels on art, jewelry, shawarma, and souvenirs.

2. What are some survival tips for sitting on an airplane for 11 hours straight? For me, Xanax. Compression socks and a neck pillow can’t hurt either. Seriously, our claim to fame is our adventurous plane ride going there—remember, it’s the journey AND the destination when traveling to Israel. To make a very long story short, it took about 26 hours to fly from St. Louis to JFK in New York to finally Ben Gurian Airport in Tel Aviv because bad weather caused us to have an unexpected pit stop at Dulles Airport in Washington, DC. Come to the open house, and we’ll explain how we unexpectedly spent our three-hour layover at the lovely Long Island home of Rabbi David and Debbie Greenblatt. They refueled our bellies and our souls with a delicious Chinese kosher dinner, and their generous hospitality is typical of the Orthodox Jewish community we have to come to know and love.

Greenblatts kitchen

Our group in the gourmet kitchen of Rabbi David and Debbie Greenblatt, in Long Island.

3. What were some of the highlights of the trip? That answer is different for everyone because we all had a unique purpose for being in Israel. We crammed a lot of activity and learning into every single moment, from kayaking in the Jordan River and floating in the Dead Sea to meeting young Israeli soldiers at their Army base and praying at the Western Wall.


Kayaking on Jordan River.

Kayaking on Jordan River.

Shabbat group with candles

Lighting candles on Shabbat.

4. What did we learn? In addition to these fun excursions, we soaked in as much information as possible in several interactive learning sessions that covered a variety of topics, including “A Mitzvah of Body and Soul: Challah Baking Class”,  “Light Up Your Life–Here Come Shabbat!”, “Reflections of a Frontline IDF Soldier”, and “Putting the Jewish Into Values”. Everyday we learned something valuable and practical about ourselves, about Israel, about the history of Judaism and how everything intertwines with the Torah and applies to our modern lives. Some of our dynamic teachers included JWRP Founder Lori Palatnik, who was recently named one of the top 10 extraordinary women by Jewish Women’s International; Army Sergeant Benjamin Anthony, who represents Our Soldiers Speak; and Rabbi /Surfer Dude Yom Tov Glaser who rocked a guitar and motivated 200 rowdy women to dance together on Shabbat.

Shabbat Friday Yom Tov Glaser

Rockin’ Rabbi Yom Tov Glaser entertains and enlightens us on Shabbat.

By the way, you’ll have an opportunity to meet Lori, an internationally sought after speaker and author, next month when Aish St. Louis brings her to town for an incredible two-day event that you don’t want to miss. If Lori doesn’t get you excited about Israel, nobody will. Find her on Facebook here and click on the invitation below for more details.

Meet Lori Palatnik in person, February 17.

Meet Lori Palatnik in person, February 17.


Ellie & JWRP Founder Lori Palatnik in Tzvat

Ellie & Lori in Tzvat


5. Is the trip physically and emotionally exhausting? Let’s just say you can sleep when you get back home to St. Louis.

6. How is JWRP different from all the other Israel trips out there? So this is the big question. Think of JWRP as a Birthright for moms or the ultimate “Girls Night Out” that lasts for eight day. All the activities and curriculum are geared towards US! We don’t have to plan a thing, just focus on ourselves for a change. The trip is about self-growth, and the purpose is to inspire us to be better people, better moms, better wives, better Jews. Judaism is a family-based religion, and women are the center of the family. Typically, we have the most influence on our children, which makes our role as moms key to the survival of the Jewish people. I know, sounds overwhelming, but it’s not. JWRP shows us how little changes in our lives make all the difference. JWRP also allows moms to bond together and uplift our spirits so that we can ultimately make our home a sacred place.

7. How’s the food? Are you kidding me, have you ever had a bad meal at a Jewish party? (Just like a Jew to answer a question with a question). The Mediterranean cuisine is the best, and trust me you will learn to like hummus and salads for breakfast. Unlike the Jewish people who wandered the dessert for 40 years, we were well fed and well hydrated. Our new friend Estee Yarmish even stuffed us with Israeli cookies and candies on the bus rides during our tours.

Going nuts in the Shuk, an outdoor Israeli marketplace.

Going nuts in the Shuk, an outdoor Israeli marketplace.

8. Did we feel safe? Yes, our security is first and foremost. I never felt in harm’s way in the airport or the streets. Israel protects their tourists, period. Of course, we witnessed many soldiers with guns, and many of them were undercover to make sure we were safe.  Besides, if there’s trouble at a certain location, we stay away from there.

9. How many moms go on this trip every summer? The number keeps growing. Last year, JWRP brought about 2,000 women from 12 different countries, including Canada, Costa Rica, Brazil, Chile, South America, Australia, and Guatemala. St. Louis currently has about 14 spots available, but Aish is trying to get funding to bring as many as 40 women in 2014, so there’s plenty of room for you!

10. Does the St. Louis group stick together?  I consider my 2013 “St. Louis Soul Sisters” my lifelong friends. Every group has two city leaders, called madrichim, and ours were Peggy Umansky and Chana Greenwald. They acted like our moms and made sure we stayed together and didn’t get lost. They also had the inside scoop on where to go for the best shopping on Ben Yehuda Street and where to find the tastiest burekas, which are pastries filled with chicken, spinach, cheese, and potato.

Chana hunts down the best  burekas for us to try.

Chana hunts down the best burekas in Jerusalem.

Exploring the ancient ruins at the  Masada.

Exploring the ancient ruins at the Masada.

11. Do we have free time? Yes, some of us sunbathed by the hotel pool, and others explored the city, and a few tagged on extra days at the end of the trip to spend time with family and friends who live in Israel. One night for entertainment our group witnessed the Tower of David Light show, which was definitely worth seeing even though I was still recovering from jet lag.

12. Is there a trip like this for dads? Actually, the guys felt left out so JWRP offered its first mens-only trip last summer. It was a huge hit, plus the lines to the bathroom were much shorter. If your hubbie is interested, just send him here to apply.

For answers to more commonly asked questions, plus a sample itinerary and list of what to pack, visit the JWRP website here and like their facebook here.

You also can read about my JWRP experience in this article that I wrote in the St. Louis Jewish Light.

Or better yet, come to one of our open houses and we will schmooze and answer your questions in person. Plus, we’re serving refreshments!

See you there!

JWRP logo