A GROUP of 24 Sydney Jewish mothers joined more than 600 women from around the world on a 10-day trip to Israel last month.
The aim of the Orah trip is to “excite Jewish women about their Judaism and about being a friend of Israel in the hope that they will bring that excitement back to their families and communities”, explained group leader Ariane Schneider.
“My opinion is that every woman can get something from this trip.”
She estimated that more than 90 per cent of the participants made small but significant changes to their Jewish home life after this trip.
“Some now make challot with their daughters every week. Others made a commitment to light the Shabbat candles on time. We just want women to be able to live Judaism actively.” The women also make a one-year commitment to continue their Jewish studies once they return to Sydney.
Speaking to The AJN, trip participant Tonia Price explained how the trip changed her life.
“It affected me on a really emotional level. Since coming home [from the trip], I’ve baked a challah from scratch every Friday night, and made Shabbat dinner for my children,” she said.
“I think the real value of the trip lies in the diversity of the women and how their personal experience will impact their lives and translate to Jewish continuity,” Price said, adding that she came home feeling “completely connected” to the Jewish culture and feeling better as a mother.
“We would love people who do not ordinarily get involved in the Jewish community to see this as an invitation to get involved, get connected, and be welcomed by wonderful, spirited women and mothers.”
Schneider added that the trip is non-denominational, and takes women from across the spectrum of Judaism, as well as women that are not yet Jewish or who are not Jewish, but want to raise their children in a Jewish household. “They are an amazing bunch of women who have huge potential to be a positive influence in the Sydney Jewish community,” Schneider said.
Participant Lisa Kramer added, “Women are the battery pack of the Jewish community, and it wasn’t until we were all together in Israel that we realised how special we were.”
Brenda Kaplan, another participant, said that she felt like she had been “given a gift that I didn’t even know I was looking for”.
The trip, which involves lectures and trips to the Kotel and the Tzfat Mikveh, is heavily subsidised by a combination of funding from Orah, the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Program in the US, and the Israeli government Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.
For more information, including details about future trips, email Ariane at firstname.lastname@example.org.