JWRP Sister Spotlight: Lauren Buchwald
Lauren Buchwald is a mother, wife, and teacher living in Phoenix who traveled to Israel with the JWRP for the first time this December. During her last night in Israel, Lauren was named the 10,000th Momentum Trip participant. We checked in with Lauren the day after she returned from Israel, and she was still absolutely jubilant.
What made you decide to participate in the JWRP’s Momentum Trip to Israel?
I grew up in Detroit, and I knew a bunch of people from there who previously traveled to Israel with the JWRP and had wonderful experiences. Then, a friend from Phoenix said, “Let’s sign up together!” The timing really wasn’t great — I’m a teacher and it’s hard to leave for two weeks before December break. But I was tired of making excuses. My principal didn’t mind and then my husband told me, “You have to go.” In the end, my friend wasn’t able to come, but I thought, I’m a big girl. I attended sleepaway camp, and I’m not shy at all. So, I went!
What did you think you were going to get out of the experience?
I knew that being in Israel would be amazing, and I expected the trip to show us the importance of connecting to Judaism and Israel. But the trip was also about the power of women. It was about focusing on yourself, connecting to other women, and empowering us as Jewish women.
Tell us about your experience in Israel.
Honestly, it exceeded my expectations. I was blown away by every aspect of the trip — all of the leaders, the tour company, how well we were cared for, and every single woman in my group. Israel is, hands down, the most amazing country I’ve ever visited. The people are beautiful, the history blew my mind — I touched stones that were 2,000 years old! My mind, soul, heart, and stomach were completely filled during the entire trip.
What impact has the JWRP experience had on you?
I knew that I wanted to be more connected to the Phoenix Jewish community, and the Momentum Trip has given me the motivation that I needed to get more involved. I know that it will be a process, but my heart and soul are now inspired to make time for my community. I’d also love to take on baking challah and lighting the Shabbat candles.
How did it feel to be named the 10,000th Momentum Trip participant?
The trip was coming to an end, and I was starting to feel that end-of-camp letdown. But we were heading to the airport — what else could happen? And then suddenly, my name was called, people started taking photos of me, and I burst out crying. It was such an honor! I’m 39, soon to be 40. What a great way to move into the next decade! I feel so blessed.