Lori Palatnik, an Orthodox Jewish outreach educator, blogger, author, speaker and the founding director of the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, was selected by Culture Minister Miri Regev to light the diaspora torch in this year’s 72nd Israel Independence Day Torch Lighting Ceremony.
“I’m happy to announce my decision for Rebbetzin Lori Palatnik to light the diaspora torch in Israel’s 72nd Independence Day ceremony,” Regev said on Friday. “Lori is an outstanding educator, a Zionist at heart and the founding director of ‘Momentum’ – who works tirelessly to strengthen both Jewish identity and the close connection to the State of Israel through her work with young mothers at their communities.”
Palatnik was born into a Conservative Jewish family in Toronto, Canada. In 1985 she was a participant on the first Jerusalem Fellowships trip to Israel, where she later met her husband, Yaakov Palatnik, from Chicago. They have five children. The Palatniks were the founding rabbi and rebbetzin of the Village Shul, a family synagogue in Forest Hill, Toronto, which they led for 11 years. They later moved to Denver, Colorado, where he worked with Aish Denver and she was educational and program director for the Aish-Ahavas Yisrael project. They also co-hosted a weekly Denver radio show called The Palatniks.
In 2005, the Palatniks relocated to Washington, DC. In 2008, Lori was one of eight founders of the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, an outreach effort dubbed “Birthright for Women.” As of 2016, JWRP has brought more than 10,000 women to Israel on a free, 8-day tour and learn program; participants only pay for their airfare. A 2010 survey of tour participants showed that 76% increased their attendance at Jewish services, 90.3% increased their Jewish learning, and 75.4% increased their Shabbat observance after participating in the tour.
In 2008, Palatnik revealed that she had donated one of her kidneys to a stranger (See: A Kidney to Give – Why I donated my kidney to someone I didn’t know).
The ceremony, which will be held without an audience this year, due to the restrictions o0f the coronavirus pandemic, will nevertheless stress social connection and solidarity, emphasize spiritual and emotional closeness.