Our Top Ten Stories of 2017
Enjoy our most-read stories of 2017 — the stories that touched your soul, made you think and encouraged you to take action. The JWRP impacts each of our sisters in unique and spectacular ways. We appreciate everyone who shared her personal journey with us this past year and we look forward to hearing more of your beautiful stories next year!
Leigh Bennett is a wife, mother, employee benefits insurance advisor, and JWRP sister who lives in Dallas. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Leigh was devastated to learn that her friends’ homes and synagogues were destroyed. We spoke with Leigh about how she got involved in the relief efforts and how other women can, too.
A wife, mother, customer experience strategist in financial services, blogger, storyteller, JWRP sister, and Momentum Fellow, Jori Lichtman calls herself a “work-in-progress” who is always striving to live a more meaningful and connected life. In our conversation, Jori shared how blogging helps her connect with others and how her Momentum Fellowship project, The Shabbat Club, can bring families together.
Lisa Kodimer is a wife, mother, JWRP sister, and a co-founder of Connecting a Caring Community, a Los Angeles-based foundation, which seeks to inspire individuals to find ways to help others. A natural social entrepreneur, Lisa previously ran Good Deeds in Motion, an organization that taught children how to get involved in philanthropy. We spoke with Lisa about motivating others to make a difference and raising kind children.
When Michelle Bar Av first applied for a MOMentum Trip, she was put on the waiting list. Michelle was disappointed, but a friend told her, “It just isn’t your time. When it’s your time, you’ll know.” Soon after, Michelle’s youngest daughter was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and Michelle spent the following year shuttling her daughter to doctors’ appointments and nursing her back to health. Two years later, Michelle’s daughter was in remission, and Michelle reapplied for the MOMentum Trip. This time, she was accepted.
One year ago, Michelle Millman had just begun her MOMentum journey in Israel, and we decided to check in to see where her journey has taken her since then. A wife, mother to three sons, and family nurse practitioner living in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Michelle spoke with us about her relationship with her Israeli family and how she instills Jewish values into her daily work.
When Julie Haymann returned from her MOMentum Trip to Israel, she infused her home with a love of Israel. Her daughters hung Israeli flags in their bedrooms, and her family spoke about the Jewish homeland often. So, when her 13-year-old daughter, Kaya, a competitive gymnast, learned that she would be competing in the Maccabiah Games, the Jewish Olympics, in Israel, Julie was thrilled.
“Her Jewish identity and gymnastics are her two greatest passions,” said Julie. “To be able to leave the gym — where she trains 36 hours a week, 51 weeks a year — and do gymnastics in Israel, with her coach’s blessing, is a dream come true for her.”
With Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, the topic of empowerment as a woman and as a Jewish woman is front and center in the media. How can Judaism empower a woman in her home and her community? How can she leverage her empowerment to make the world a better place? We spoke with JWRP Trip Leader Adrienne Gold Davis about Judaism’s long history of “Wonder Women” and how Judaism can actively empower women to be their best selves.
In Judaism, the purpose of relationships is Tikkun, repair. We are drawn to the person who will trigger us in the deepest ways, and navigating those challenges can bring us closer to repairing ourselves and the world. Chaya Lester, a Jerusalem-based wife; mother; co-director of the Shalev Center, which is dedicated to personal growth and spiritual development; Jewish educator; psychotherapist; and writer, works with couples to meet these challenges face-to-face and to find positive frameworks for communication that are rooted in Jewish values. We spoke to Chaya about strategies for breaking free of bad patterns with our partners and Judaism’s vision of a good marriage.
The home is where we nourish and receive nourishment. It’s where we learn about acceptance, forgiveness, and second chances. It’s where we receive physical and verbal expressions of love that give us so much of our self-esteem. When we experience Shalom Bayit, which means peace in the home and family harmony, we can positively contribute to the outside world. In this interview, JWRP Trip Leader Ruchi Koval shares strategies for apologizing effectively, as well as modeling harmonious behavior to our children.
After Jacqueline Volin’s MOMentum Trip to Israel, she felt inspired to reunite with her ex-husband and to imbue their relationship with Jewish values. Seven years following their divorce, they celebrated their marriage with a Jewish ceremony under a chuppah. Jacqueline shared with us how MOMentum changed her view of marriage, as well as her tips for creating a peaceful home life.