Meaningful ties with a sacred mission
By Rolene Marks
Few things in the world are more sacred than the bonds between mothers and daughters.
This is a bond that is only made even more special with shared experiences. Now imagine this incredible experience while exploring your heritage and roots as well as growing your special bond as you step back in time and follow in the footsteps of the matriarchs and then get a glimpse into the future as one can do in Israel.
It is with this in mind that Michelle Melamed Cohen who recently passed away from cancer formed Mothers with Meaning.
Mothers with Meaning is an extraordinary organization that aims to grow the bonds between mothers and daughters while giving them the unique experience of forging unbreakable ties with Israel.
So where did this all start?
Melamed Cohen had a vision to create a programme which would create a space for secular women to form a sense of community in Israel. She felt that the more religious women already had events and structures in place that connected them to Israel and their Jewish roots, so why not create the same for their secular sisters?
And so, Mothers with Meaning was born.
This vibrant not-for-profit was founded with the aim to connect women to their Jewish roots, Israeli history and the Land of Israel. Something great and bigger than them that they could feel a part of. The best way to do this was to create national and local events that would be meaningful, unique and above all create community. Melamed Cohen believed that connecting hearts and brining Israeli women together through fun and meaningful activities was the best way to grow unity between Israel’s myriad of different cultures.
It is heartbreaking to note that Melamed Cohen passed away before she would see the organization grow as it has, but she left a tremendous legacy.
Creativity is a great motivator and Melamed Cohen’s enthusiasm and passion for her vision proved infectious. This motivated one of the Israeli members of Mothers with Meaning member, Orly Tesler, to come up with an idea that could include future generations. And so, the Batmitzvah programme for mothers and daughters was started.
There are three parts to this programme – the opportunity connects with your daughter, your Judaism and to Israel”, says Tesler. Orly was motivated to include women from abroad. “This is about connecting them to Israel from an earlier age and is totally non-political – it is about their identity as a Jewish woman,” says Tesler
Yehudit Novick agrees, “Going on this mothers and daughters tour was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life – what a privilege to be able to wake up every day with just me and my youngest daughter sharing a hotel room, and then sharing breakfast together. Even though I have been to Israel so many times, we experienced so many activities I have never done before. I loved every moment, from the inspirational and moving talks, to dancing, laughing and even crying together.”
Mothers with Meaning aims to stress the importance of Israel as a Jewish homeland. Over the last couple of years, many tours to Israel have become highly politicised and in the current climate where showing a proud Zionist identity often leads to intimidation and harassment, Mothers with Meaning hope to instill a sense of pride and confidence in identity. The hope is that participants on returning home will become involved in women’s Zionists organisations and in their communities.
Some of the young girls who have participated have been so impressed and turned on by what they have seen and experienced that they are making plans for their futures in Israel. They have expressed hope to either study or join the army!
Throughout the programme, they are encouraged to come out from their comfort zones and enjoy unique and enriching encounters from training at army bases to meeting with Holocaust survivors. These unforgettable events have been life-changing and have only enhanced the ties that bind generation to generation.
Everything is about connection – Shabbat at the Kotel, exploring Israel’s future in Tel Aviv, learning the importance of continuity and bearing witness with Holocaust survivors and so much more.
Israel is more than simply a country that has conflict with her neighbours. There is a rich tapestry of cultures and history and while some may not be attracted to religious aspects, there is something for everyone.
Michelle Melamed Cohen may not have lived long enough to enjoy the rich fruits of her vision but the gift that she has created will pass down from generation to generation. Mothers with Meaning is transforming lives and building last bonds between moms and their daughters and instilling love for Israel – there is no greater legacy than that.
For more information about Mothers with Meaning visit: https://www.facebook.com/mwmisrael/