Four Australian Jewish women to participate U.S. project

September 2, 2016 Agencies
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Four Jewish mothers from Australia will participate in the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) Leadership Conference in Maryland later this month.

The JWRP Leadership Conference gathers Jewish women from across the world to hone their leadership skills and create a global Jewish women’s movement. The annual conference was launched in 2013 with 65 participants from the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and by last year it had grown to include 200 people from eight countries.

This year’s gathering, jointly presented with Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, is expected to be the biggest such event yet, drawing more than 300 Jewish mothers from nine nations including Australia, Cuba, Greece, Israel, Panama, Russia, Spain, South Africa and the U.S.

Rochelle Rothfield

Rochelle Rothfield

The Australian women include Jewish Care’s Lana Block and the President of The King David School Rochelle Rothfield of Melbourne and Lynne Silberman and Lauren Ross of Perth. During the event, the JWRP will also honor the mother of a murdered Israeli teen who became a national symbol of hope and an acclaimed Israeli feminist author. JWRP will present the Pamela Claman Leadership Award to Rachel Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali Fraenkel, whose kidnapping and murder by Hamas-affiliated Palestinians sparked Israel’s 2014 military operation in Gaza, and to Lihi Lapid, a noted author and women’s rights advocate.

Rochelle Rothfield told J-Wire:  “”I’m incredibly honoured and excited to have the opportunity to attend the JWRP Leadership Conference in Maryland. I’m thrilled to be learning from experts in the field of leadership and in turn how I can continue to impact and inspire my local Jewish community.”

Lynne Silberman added: “For a long time I have felt disconnected from my Jewish identity. JWRP has given me the opportunity to reconnect as a Jewish Woman within my own community and the worldwide community.”

The JWRP Pamela Claman Leadership Award is given to international role models who have significantly shaped the Jewish world with exceptional and inspired leadership. In partnership with the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, the JWRP brings Jewish mothers on life-changing Momentum trips to Israel to inspire them to change the world.

Fraenkel is an educator and mother of seven children from the West Bank community of Nof Ayalon, who became a symbol of Jewish unity in Israel. After her son’s kidnapping, she led a prayer service at the Western Wall and urged people not to despair should their prayers go unanswered. “G-d isn’t our employee,” she said. “He doesn’t always do as we wish.”

Lynne Silberman

Lynne Silberman

She was a key voice in establishing the Jerusalem Unity Prize in 2015, with the City of Jerusalem, the Gesher organization, and the families of Gil-ad Shaer and Eyal Ifrach, after the murder of her son and his friends helped catalyze a global Jewish outcry.

Lana Block

Lana Block

Lapid is an author and journalist whose best-selling semi-autobiographical novel “Woman of Valor” critically explored the roles of contemporary women and mothers. Her husband, Israeli politician Yair Lapid, chairs the Yesh Atid Party. Residents of Tel Aviv, the Lapids have two children.

“Rachelle and Lihi both speak on our Momentum trips, and are true examples of Jewish women from diverse worlds who know what it means to love one another based on the values they share,” said Lori Palatnik, founding director of the JWRP.

Among the featured speakers will be Mindy Scheier, founder of Runway of Dreams, which designs adaptive clothing and who joined the first JWRP Fashion trip this summer; Ariel Halevi, founder and co-owner of Vayomar, an Israel-based communications consulting firm; Charlie Harary, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and leader of the JWRP Momentum men’s trips; Gidi Grinstein, founder and president of the Reut Institute, a non-profit strategy group focusing on Israel and Jewish issues; Janine Kurnoff, founder and principle of the Presentation Company, a communications consulting firm; Dr. Zeev Ben Shachar, director of Israel education at Hebrew University; and others.

The conference will be held on Sept. 18-20 in College Park, Maryland.


The Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project ( was founded in 2008, with the mission of empowering women to change the world through Jewish values. Its major project is “Momentum,” a nine-day, highly subsidised life-changing journey to Israel, experienced by over 8,000 women from 150 partner organizations in 26 countries worldwide. Since 2014, the JWRP has partnered with Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.

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