Last week, the Jewish women’s movement Momentum brought 100 women from France, Belgium, and Switzerland to Israel in a trip aimed at strengthening their Jewish identity.
After working with the Jewish Agency for Israel on a pilot trip for 20 French-speaking women last year, participants in that experience proceeded to recruit women in their communities for this year’s trip, which marks Momentum’s first full cohort of French speakers in Momentum’s history.
Momentum is a global movement that helps women connect with their Jewish values and the State of Israel. It prides itself on partnering with a wide-ranging array of national, local, and international organizations that helped make this trip possible. Momentum collaborates with the Jewish Agency for Israel and diverse local organizations across France.
Dr. Katia Attali-Soussay, an eye surgeon based in Paris who came on the pilot trip last year, enjoyed her experience so much that she decided to recruit eight women to join her on this year’s journey.
“The trip helped me feel good about my Judaism. Being in Israel brought up so many positive emotions and I felt like I was in the right place,” she said. “I can’t wait to introduce other women to the Momentum experience. During their time here, I hope they understood what kind of Judaism represents the best fit for them. There’s no right way to be Jewish.”
Since it was founded, in 2009, Momentum has brought 22,000 participants from 34 countries and 378 partner organizations to Israel. Their flagship Israel experience is the result of a partnership between Momentum and Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. The partnership with Momentum was led by the Jewish Agency for Israel in France, with the support of the Passerel Foundation.
During their eight-day trip, which marks the start of the Momentum Year-long Journey, the French-speaking women visited the Ethiopian Israeli Heritage Center––a venue for exploring and appreciating Ethiopian Jews in Israel––heard their stories and learned about their traditions through food and dance; Mount Masada, where the women were encouraged to take a Hebrew name; and emotional attractions in Jerusalem, including the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center, Mt. Herzl, and the Western Wall. Their trip coincided with Jerusalem Day, giving the women an opportunity to celebrate with thousands of Israelis who took to the streets hoisting thousands of national flags.
The delegation also heard from renowned educator Miriam Peretz, a French speaker, and Gael Grunewald, head of the Department of Education at the World Zionist Organization, who spoke to them about advocating for Israel in France.
When the women return home, they’ll continue to work with their partner organization to learn and engage in many social opportunities throughout the year as part of a greater effort to be contributing members of their local Jewish community.