JWRP Sister Spotlight, Ethel Yosifon
Born and raised in Colombia, Ethel Yosifon moved to Israel at the age of 17, married an Israeli man, became the mother of two children, and launched a career in the hi-tech industry. Two decades later, Ethel is experiencing a new beginning. She’s a JWRP sister; the co-founder of Parenting with Meaning, a Jewish parenting course for local Israeli women; and the founder of a business that imports supplements for cancer patients. In our conversation, Ethel shares how MOMentum sparked her new journey and why she recommends taking action with a group.
What inspired you to experience MOMentum?
A friend in Miami told me that she was traveling to Israel with the JWRP and that she wanted to see me while she was there. Years before, we had worked together in Israel and she had met her husband at my wedding. Though she’d moved to Colombia and then to the U.S., we continued to keep in touch. I wanted to see her in Israel, but I wasn’t sure how I’d feel. Earlier that year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was just completing chemotherapy. Still, I decided to apply for MOMentum as an Israeli participant, and I was thrilled to be accepted and to feel good enough to participate. I thought that focusing on the power of women would fill me with strength and positivity and help me launch a new beginning for myself. And it did! Plus, MOMentum made it possible for me to spend the entire week with my friend.
How did MOMentum impact you?
MOMentum helped me forge powerful connections with Israeli women and become part of a strong community. In the past, I never imagined having an impact on anyone but my husband and my kids. But MOMentum showed me that I have a responsibility to make a difference for the people around me, my neighborhood, my city, and the Jewish people. I always valued Jewish traditions, but I realized that Jewish wisdom could guide me in every area of my life, support me in overcoming obstacles, and help me fill my days with meaning.
What compelled you to launch Parenting with Meaning and what did the course achieve?
Two weeks after my MOMentum Trip, I learned that another JWRP sister wanted to create a school for Israeli mothers that provided Jewish guidance on parenting, marriage, and life. She believed that if we shared Jewish values with more women, we could build a stronger society. The idea resonated with me and I offered my assistance. I worked in the training department at a hi-tech company for many years, and I knew that I’d be able to handle all of the logistics. We decided to launch the course through our Partner Organization, Mothers with Meaning, and to focus on parenting first. We found an educator who could teach from a Jewish perspective.
Forty women signed up for the course and we met once a month. During the first hour, the teacher taught and during the second hour, we shared our reflections and spoke about how we were putting our studies into action. Many parenting courses teach parents how to change their kids. But, in Parenting with Meaning, we learned how making changes in ourselves could change our children’s behaviors. We focused on becoming examples for our children. Over the course of the semester, each woman saw her home life transform little by little.
How would you encourage other JWRP sisters who want to take action in their communities?
First, I recommend connecting with other women and working as a team. Sharing perspectives, ideas, and work with friends can make your project a lot easier. Second, find something that speaks to your heart and engages your skills. When launching Parenting with Meaning, I didn’t know exactly what the curriculum would include. But I knew that I would be able to lead the planning, make sure the classroom was set up, and take care of all of the logistics and that I’d be glad to do so. Finally, in every project, there will come a time when you need to take a leap, try something new, and see how it goes. And if you’re working with a group that you trust, you’ll be happy to do it!
To get involved with Mothers with Meaning, please visit: http://www.mwmisrael.com/