Shalom Life | October 16, 2015

The Birthright Israel Trip Exclusively for Jewish Moms

Sponsored by Jewish Women's Renaissance Project, nearly 200 women arrived in Jerusalem for a different kind of Birthright trip

By: Daniel Koren

Published: December 10th, 2014 in News » Israel

Photo Caption: Birthright for moms

Photo Credit: Haaretz


It's a familiar scene.

North American Jews arrive at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv with a sparkle in their eyes, ready to spend the next eight days on a vigorous tour of the country's brightest and must-see locations, including the Dead Sea, the Western Wall, Masada, Jaffo, all the staples.

It's something us as Diaspora Jews know about quite well: the Birthright Israel program, a free trip that gives us the chance to see the wonders of the Holy Land, in a bid to strengthen our identity as Jews, and our relationship to the State of Israel.

Thus far, according to studies, stats and other such reports, the trip has worked quite well on getting Jewish kids from this neck of the woods to make aliyah.

But the scenario at Ben Gurion last weekend was slightly different. For one, out of the 200 people who arrived, all of them were women. For another, they all left their kids back home in North America.

That's right, as reported by JTA, there's a Birthright Israel program, one geared specifically for Jewish mothers. And of course, given that it's an entirely different demographic than the Birthright you and I are accustomed to, the itinerary, not to mention the lessons taught on the trip, are slightly different.

Though of course the trip, run by the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP), still focuses on building the same relationships between its participants and the Holy Land as previous ones, it also has a more religious focus.

The women who attend the Birthright Israel for Jewish moms have to be women who don't observe the Sabbath (meaning they're pretty much secular), in an effort to show them a side of Israel they haven't seen before. For those moms who do develop a new affinity for Israel, this will be passed down also to her children, her husband, her fellow Jewish mother friends, etc.

It's a pretty neat, and clever, method of expanding the Birthright brand.

“If you impact a 22-year-old boy, you impact a 22-year-old boy,” JWRP's founding director Lori Palatnik told JTA. “If you impact the mother, you can impact the whole family. If we want to have Jewish communities rise, a community lives and dies by where the women are.”

Since the organization was founded seven years ago, approximately 5,000 women, from 19 countries, have participated. Aside from airfare (which is partially funded by the Israeli government) the trip is free. It also strongly caters to the female demographic, with lighter meals, programming that would be specific to their gender, etc.

“We want this to be the springboard for their entry into their Jewish community, Jewish life and personal growth,” Palatnik said. “Some have been in Israel before, [but] their last memory was the soldiers are so cute. Now the soldiers are their sons’ age. At this age they’re taking life more seriously than when they were in their 20s.”

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