Explaining why he joined the trip, Brian Seigal, a parent of a lone soldier in the IDF, came to support his son and the country
Jerusalem, Dec. 21, 2023 — Momentum, a global movement that inspires Jewish women to connect with Israel and their Jewish values, worked in partnership with the Ministry for Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism to bring four parents – both mothers and fathers – from Colorado on a volunteer solidarity mission to Israel as a way for them to support their Israeli counterparts in their darkest hour.
While this is the second unity mission to Israel organized by Momentum since the war began, this is the first time that the organization has brought fathers on these solidarity trips.
The six-day trip, which brought more than 150 parents thus far from the United States, Canada, South Africa, Mexico, United Kingdom and more spanned across the country and focused on the need for unity in this time of crisis. Around 40 of those parents have a lone soldier serving in the IDF now.
This trip follows the first unity mission which took place earlier in November and brought 100 women to the country to provide Israelis with emotional and moral support in this time of crisis. The success of these two missions has prompted the organization to schedule further monthly unity missions for both men and women starting on January 16.
Each day, the mothers and fathers took part in volunteer initiatives to support the people of Israel, and boost the morale of IDF soldiers. Some examples of their work included cooking for soldiers, harvesting crops to assist farmers who cannot attend to their land because they were either killed during the war or have been called up for reserve duty; worked in partnership with the NGO Thank Israeli Soldiers to provide care packages for the IDF and visited a state-of-the-art blood bank at Magen David Adom. The missions also brought support to the hostages’ families and met evacuees from the south and the north.
The goal of the volunteer activities and emotional meetings was to inspire and prepare these women and men to engage in meaningful dialogue so those in their home communities understand the gravity of the situation in Israel. The mission is also a powerful display of Jewish parental leadership in action. The tools and experience that they will take away from this trip will encourage these parents to work together to facilitate changing the world.
Men participating in Momentum’s unity mission to Israel are briefed about the hostage situation during a visit to Tel Aviv. Credit: Aviram Waldman
Although participants were fully prepared to come to a country deep in the middle of a devastating battle in Gaza, their trip coincided with the humanitarian pause between Israel and Hamas. As such, they were able to witness hostages being released in real time and took advantage of the quiet to have intimate conversations with the parents of hostages whose children have yet to be released.
Those meetings included speaking with the parents of Omer Shem Tov and Omer Wenkert whose children were kidnapped at the Supernova Music Festival.
Momentum participant Brian Seigal from Boulder, CO, said he joined the trip because “my Jewish journey has always been intertwined with Israel. But now I have a son in the IDF and we’re all in for him. But also there’s a war going on and we have to support Israel.”
These solidarity missions underscore the organization’s belief in unity without uniformity and that Jews from various backgrounds will have much to learn and gain from standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel during this difficult time.
Explaining why the organization felt it was important that men join this mission, Momentum’s Founding Director Lori Palatnik said, “When we started Momentum 15 years ago, we didn’t think about including men because our mission was all about empowering mothers, as the main decision maker of the family, But the women kept on saying to us, ‘My husband needs to see this.’ Once we started to bring the men, it was a game changer, and we have brought over 3,000 men thus far”.
“We see that if we bring the wife and then her husband helps them get on the same page, connect their families much more to Israel and to Jewish values. It’s so powerful. On this trip, some of the men have never been on Momentum, but their wives have. They’re here to gain from the incredible power of the moment here and I hope they’ll share what they learned when they return home and take action on their communities.”
The trip is just one aspect of the organization’s comprehensive Momentum Mobilizes Campaign. The multi-pronged initiative was spearheaded in the early days of the War to create a connection to what’s happening in Israel through the lens of the organization, deliver support through educational initiatives, and to inspire action through opportunities to do something positive for Israel in their own Jewish communities.
Momentum is carrying out this campaign by tapping into its extensive community of alumni that span over 23,000 women from 36 countries, who through their immersive experience in Israel, have returned to their home countries to be dedicated ambassadors for not only the country but Jewish values.
Momentum’s campaigns include Hugs4Heroes, which encourages Momentum women and their families to strengthen the IDF and the country by showing solidarity with soldiers and displaced families through the sending and delivering of letters and pictures of support, and their new initiative ‘Keep the Light Going,’” where every Shabbat Momentum encourages members of the Jewish community to light Shabbat candles and add a third one dedicated to the Israeli hostages held in Gaza.
Founded in 2009, Momentum’s four central goals are connecting to Jewish values, engaging with Israel, taking action, and fostering unity without uniformity. Momentum has built a movement based on Jewish values and taking action. The movement represents an army of women, men, partner organizations, Jewish leaders, influencers, and change-makers.
About Momentum (momentumunlimited.org):
The Momentum Year-long Journey is a partnership between Momentum and Israeli’s Ministry for Diaspora Affairs and fighting antisemitism launched with a visit to Israel and caters to Jewish women with limited connection to Israel. The program targets Jewish people from around with the aim for them to fall in love with Israel and to connect with their Jewish identity. Momentum encourages women to tap into Jewish values and develop leadership in their local Jewish communities. The organization has reached 23,000 women from 36 countries and works with more than 400 Partner Organizations such as Jewish Federations, JCC’s and local communities.