Last month, Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford’s Momentum contingent, Cohort Gimel — named for the third letter in the Hebrew alphabet — traveled to Israel on a profound eight-day trip to explore our Jewish homeland and absorb spiritual inspiration. Momentum's year-long journey empowers women to connect to Jewish values, engage with Israel, and take action while transforming themselves, their families, and our communities. In the letter below, our Federation’s Emerging Leadership Director Rebecca Lenkiewicz reflects on the trip and the exciting impact it is having on the participants’ personal Jewish journeys.
At first glance, our trip to Israel may have seemed like your typical week-long adventure filled with sight-seeing, tasting new and delicious cuisine, forming new friendships – and, yes, a healthy dose of retail therapy! But don’t be fooled; our seven Cohort Gimel participants were simultaneously embarking on a personal journey that will last a lifetime. Together, we rediscovered our collective Jewish identity and took a deep dive into reinvigorating Jewish peoplehood through the profound role of mothers.
This first year-long journey of growth began with an incredible exploration of Israel. We visited holy sites like the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem and secular spots like the shuk (marketplace) in Tel Aviv. “[This trip was] a phenomenal experience — one that allowed me to start my journey of engagement and connection to Israel,” recalled Cohort Gimel member Danielle.
As we rooted ourselves in 3,000-year-old values and traditions, we also connected with other cohorts from around the world including Spain, South Africa, and France. It was inspiring to watch participants from diverse cultures – even those with just a minor connection to Judaism – rediscover and reignite the inner strength and power they yield as matriarchs.
Far more than a mere guided tour of Israel, the Momentum sisterhood provides a safe landing base for women to lean on and learn from each other while gently pushing participants out of their everyday comfort zones. “The trip went far beyond seeing the sites of Israel,” said Olga, another Cohort Gimel traveler. “We not only floated in the Dead Sea, rode camels in the desert, and visited the Western Wall; we were also able to strengthen our connections to Judaism and each other.”
“[There were] so many special events and deep friendships formed,” added Donna, another participant.
Over the past 14 years, Momentum has helped thousands of women take part in a global movement that is changing the trajectory of Jewish families. Now that we are back in Connecticut, Cohort Gimel is working to reinforce the practices, traditions, and lessons we learned in Israel. ‘’I feel spiritually connected and grounded,” said Pam, another participant. And best of all, I am inspired to implement the lessons I learned.”
Cohort Gimel will continue growing together over the course of the next year. Members will take turns leading a Rosh Chodesh (“head of the month”) celebration and study group at the beginning of each Jewish month. And each individual will delve further into her Jewish community, supported by the vast sisterhood of Momentum participants.
To learn more about Momentum, please email Rebecca Lenkiewicz.
Photo: Cohort Gimel at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem. From left: Olga Kinchla, Danielle Wu, Pam McGuire, Michelle Meyer, Polina Melamud, JFGH Emerging Leadership Director Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Donna Boruchov, Leesa Wallace, and Jamie Jensen.