By: Jill Komm
Last month, 9 extraordinary women from Buffalo joined me on the Momentum Israel Journey. This diverse group had one common factor – everyone was a mom to a Jewish child under 18 years old. The trip was jam packed with all the typical Israel tourist attractions, as well as deep learning about what it means to parent a Jewish child. For the next three weeks, we’re excited to spotlight the women from the trip by sharing a meaningful moment they experienced in their own words.
This week, meet Allison Wilson, Melinda Galvin and Jess Sadoff:
People have been asking me “how was your trip?” and it seems to be so difficult to answer or put into words. It was emotional, eye-opening, beautiful, challenging… our group kept saying it was “all the feels.” When I signed up to go my mindset was about how great it will be to travel again. I haven’t been on a trip since before I was pregnant with my first child who is now 8, and seeing the world has always been a passion of mine. So, I thought this will be fun to be in a foreign country and pick up some tips on how to incorporate the cultural aspects of Judaism into my home. What actually ended up happening was much more than this: the women in my group became my friends, confidants, support system, and during the trip… my family. I was free to be myself, ask questions, and learn about Israeli culture but also the backgrounds of the women I live a mile from here at home.
I’ve been to the Kotel two times before in my life: when I was 15 and 21, but going as a 38-year-old mother was different in every way. My view on myself, my goals, my Judaism, and my needs have all changed. A few things kept coming into the forefront of my thoughts: Our Momentum speaker, Nili, mentioned how every year we sit around the table at Passover and say, “Next year in Jerusalem” and there we were, in Jerusalem! And just a few days earlier we had visited Yad Vashem and heard our tour guide talk about how his parents survived the horrors of the Holocaust. While I was standing there waiting for my turn to touch the wall, it didn’t matter that I haven’t gone to Temple in the past year nor that I was still unsure of how much religion or mention of God I want to include in my life or my children’s lives; I was Jewish and at the holiest place on Earth and it was spiritual, breathtaking, amazing, and “all the feels.”
The 2022 Momentum trip through the Buffalo Jewish Federation was an amazing experience. Having time to focus on Jewish values, a connection with Israel and the opportunity to take action was fully packed within this trip! However, the most memorable thing that I learned is that I belong. Before this trip I questioned if I was Jewish enough to convert. Being a Jew by choice, when would I feel that I could actually say I’m Jewish without doubting myself? The Momentum trip showed me I belong. Every mom on the trip was so different, practiced Judaism differently, but yet we were all Jewish. All of us are continually learning and growing and this is all part of our Judaism! I have a new confidence towards my Judaism. It doesn’t matter how others do it; it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be meaningful to me. Even though the trip has come to an end, it was the springboard I needed to courageously pursue my journey through Judaism.
This picture is of the beach in Tel Aviv, basking in the lights. After all the travel and check-in hoopla, a small group of us who flew in early all got together for dinner and a moonlight stroll. With a full belly of amazing fresh fish, we meandered down the beach, feet in the sand, and I felt like I could breathe for the first time in what felt like forever. This is what Momentum gave to me – time to breathe and remember what it’s like to be me. I am forever grateful.
Jill Komm is the Chief Creative Officer at Buffalo Jewish Federation and had the privilege of being the 2022 Buffalo Momentum Trip Leader.