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Countdown to Israel Trip Begins

JWRP logo


In less than one week, I will embark on a journey of my lifetime. As one of 10 St. Louis moms selected to visit Israel with the T.A.G. (Transform and Grow) Mission sponsored by the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project and coordinated through Aish HaTorah of Greater St. Louis, I’m so excited to see, taste, and feel the holy land for the first time. We will join other moms from all over the world who are coming together to have an uninhibited wonderful adventure and focus on ourselves for a change, without the kids. Most importantly, we will discover  what it truly means to be a Jew so that when we return home, after a nine-day, jam-packed adventure that includes everything from kayaking on the Jordan River and floating in Dead Sea to riding a camel and climbing the majestic Masada at dawn, we will be inspired to make a change. Even though that change will be different for all of us, we all want the same thing, to continue learning about Judaism and share our joy and experiences with our family and children.

group at Peggy's

Our St. Louis group wearing red hats so we don’t lose each other!

Thanks to our group leaders Chana Greenwald and Peggy Umansky, who know Israel like the back of their hand, (Chana lived in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for many years, and this is Peggy’s fifth visit to Israel), we know exactly how to prepare ourselves, mentally, physically, spiritually. The neat thing is that some of us already know each other, either as friends or acquaintances, while others have met for the first time. But after our trip, we will go through a transformation to become like sisters. In fact, Ellen made us these beautiful chan luu bracelets so that “we are connected already.”
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My Journey To Israel

israel sky.com

How do we change in the world?

The question itself makes my head spin. I mean, it’s overwhelming, seemingly impossible to change the world. Right? I can hardly make my kids change their own bedsheets.

And yet I know we have to create change. The greatest threat to the Jewish people is not racism or discrimination or wars against Israel. Our biggest enemy is apathy and ignorance.

Something has to change. In the words of Rabbi Hillel:

“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?

And if I am only for myself, then what am I?

And if not now, when?”

So, how do I change the world?

One community at a time.

How do I change the community?

One home at a time.

How do I change the home?

One mom at a time.

Sounds like a simple enough answer to a complicated question, changing the world. And yet this is precisely the game plan of the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP), which was established in 2008 with the purpose to empower Jewish women to change the world.

How do they do this?

Through their flagship program, T.A.G. (Transform and Grow) Missions to Israel, JWRP offers thousands of women from around the world a special gift: a highly subsidized nine-day action-packed trip to Israel. To date JWRP has brought close to 2,000 women from 40 cities and seven different countries to their homeland.  In 2012, they brought 1,000 more from around the world. This year, they will change the lives of many more women. And, I’m thrilled to say, I’m one of them.

This summer, I’ll embark on a journey with about a dozen St. Louis moms who share the same vision, and that is to experience self-growth and personal development so that we can reach our potential as Jewish women, wives and mothers. As we walk the crowded streets of Jerusalem, pray at the Western Wall, hike the Masada, float in the Dead Sea, eat the best falafel, bargain for souvenirs in Tel Aviv, learn how to make challah, ride a camel, and watch the sun melt into the Mediterranean, we will transform ourselves and reawaken our passion and commitment that has been the legacy of the Jewish people for the last 4,000 years. The goal is that when we return home, our “other” home, we’ll share our stories and enthusiasm to inspire our communities, our families, and our children to love being Jewish, too.

This is how we change the world. One mom at a time.

I plan to document my experiences here in my blog as I prepare myself emotionally and physically for this adventure, and that includes investing in a good pair of walking shoes and figuring out how to endure the longest plane ride in my life—at least 13 hours—without going bonkers.

Please feel free to share any advice you have on making the most of my first trip to Israel.

For now, I better practice my Hebrew. Shalom!




KaleidoFest Offers A Taste of Israel (Without A Passport)

A birthday is a cause for celebration, and when the birthday is the sixtieth anniversary of the State of Israel, the party takes on a life of its own. Even if you can’t get to Jerusalem next week to watch a nationwide laser light show and hear Barbara Streisand belt out “Avinu Malkeinu” live on stage, or to Radio City Music Hall in New York to enjoy another star-studded gala, Kaleidoscope Israel brings the Jewish State right here to St. Louis. Continue reading

Israeli War Hits Close to Home; Parents Help Children Cope

The morning starts out innocent enough. Like every other school day, Sari brushes her sun-streaked curls before I twirl her soft hair in a ponytail. Now a second grader, Sari checks her homework inside her new pink camouflage backpack, while I whip up a strawberry yogurt smoothie in the blender for us to share at breakfast. I join Sari at the kitchen table and watch her use one finger to carefully spread thick cream cheese on a blueberry bagel. Then, out of nowhere, she asks me, “Has Osama Bin Laden been caught yet?” Continue reading