Traveling to your ancestors’ homeland is a big deal–especially if you’ve never done it before. Well, this has been the case for 10 Cuban Jewish moms. On May 11, 10 women left from Havana and arrived to Tel Aviv, sponsored by Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project and Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. The organization brought 800 Jewish mothers from around the world to Israel to participate in their Momentum Mega Event on May 16 at Bar Ilan University.
This trip is especially monumental, as it comes amidst positive diplomatic and political change between Cuba and the U.S., as the U.S. is removing the economic embargo that has been placed since Castro’s revolution. So, why are all of these women going to Israel? JWRP’s mission is to connect Jewish women to their Jewish identities, regardless of their backgrounds.
Lori Palatnik, JWRP’s Founding Director, describes how her trip to a synagogue in Cuba inspired the trip to Israel, because traditional remembrance plaques for late members were missing lights for each person’s mourning, stating:
“I realized, those who founded the community are not asking for bulbs to be remembered, they are crying out for us to save their grandchildren and great-grandchildren from further assimilation. Let’s light up their souls.”
One of the group members, Ileana Carrillo Chavez, remarked on how the trip has been a wholly life-changing experience, stating:
“To arrive to Israel for the first time was amazing–like a dream! Spiritually it completes my Jewish wholeness. My family is so proud of me. I thank God and all the people who made this project possible!”
It’s amazing to see women being brought together from all over the world to discover, rediscover, or connect to their roots in a new way. As the world is always changing and evolving, so is our relationship to our identity–and that is something always worth exploring.