Communicated: Eight Extraordinary Jewish Women Honored at Aish L.A.’s Third Annual JWI Luncheon
The Jewish Women’s Initiative (JWI) of Aish Los Angeles held its Third Annual JWI Luncheon on Sunday, Dec. 10th, at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, honoring eight women who have shown selflessness and commitment to strengthening Jewish identity and educating and inspiring Jewish mothers. Almost 300 JWI members and friends attended the luncheon, which raises money for JWI programming and scholarships toward Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project’s Momentum trips to Israel.
“The unique thing about JWI is our focus on building the Jewish mom,” said Chana Heller, Director of the JWI. “The Jewish mom is the centerpiece of the Jewish home, but who is supporting her? Numerous organizations focus attention and funding on our youth, which is appropriate, but we also know that if the mother is not inspired to celebrate and honor Judaism in the home, nothing Jewish will happen there. This year’s honorees have been instrumental in lighting the way for Jewish moms to discover the significance of Judaism in their lives and their families’ lives.”
Lucy Blinder, Emuna Braverman, Rivka Eisenberg, Sandy Gordon, Debbie Hirschmann, Holly Magady, Rochel Markman, and Lisa Richards were the honorees at this year’s luncheon. As Los Angeles City Leaders for women attending JWRP’s Momentum trips to Israel and as JWI Growth Group teachers, these women use their knowledge, skills, and talents to bring Jewish values to life in ways that are meaningful to today’s Jewish mothers.
The event kicked off with a boutique, silent auction, and party book sign-up. The boutique included over 15 unique shops selling distinctive and handmade Judaica, jewelry, clothing, linens, bags, and more. Silent auction highlights included sporting event tickets, VIP tickets to television show tapings, wine tours, beauty treatments, shopping experiences, and unique themed gift baskets. JWI’s Party Book is a list of events hosted by JWI women where guests pay to attend parties and the proceeds support JWI. This year’s offerings included game gatherings, creative arts gatherings (Beaded Bracelets, Judaica Silk Painting, Cake Decorating, etc.), cooking classes, outdoor adventures (Pico Robertson Walking Tour, Yoga & Brunch, etc.) and a date night Black & White Party. The program continued with musical performances, lunch, tributes to the honorees, presentation of awards and more singing.
The mission of the JWI is to empower Jewish women to communicate the beauty, joy and relevance of Judaism in their homes and communities. Weekly classes, monthly learning groups, Lunch N Learn, an annual Women’s Shabbos of Unity at Brandeis Bardin Institute, and a guest speaker series are some of the offerings of the JWI.
JWI also strives to increase unity and understanding between the different streams of Judaism, engaging women from Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Orthodox, and unaffiliated backgrounds. “The impact in our community has been huge,” remarked Sharon Shenker, Associate Director of the JWI, “creating strong bonds of friendship, mutual respect and increased understanding of one another. We focus on commonalities, specifically our shared passion to connect our children to our rich heritage.”
To date, JWI has taken 300 L.A. moms on the JWRP Momentum Trips. In 2008, eight Jewish women, including Founding Director Lori Palatnik, founded the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP). The JWRP seeks to inspire Jewish mothers to transform themselves, their families, their communities and the world. Their flagship program is Momentum, an eight-day highly subsidized journey through Israel which is more than a tour of the country, but an opportunity for Jewish mothers to explore themselves and Jewish spirituality. Over 12,000 moms from 21 countries have already experienced this life-changing trip. The JWRP works in partnership with the State of Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and a wide spectrum of community organizations, including JWI. Partners such as JWI recruit the women, staff the buses and continue the journey through follow-up programming that keeps the inspiration going and helps create bonds that extend not only to communities, but globally.
JWI typically has two or three applicants per coveted spot on JWRP Momentum trips. The next trip for L.A. moms will be in October 2018.