Sister Spotlights
3 MIN. READ

A Journey to Wholeness

When a young soldier’s mother called Jennifer Shapiro to express her gratitude, she was stunned.

Together with three of her Momentum sisters in Florida, Jennifer has hosted five young men through Peace of Mind, a holistic therapy program that connects Israeli combat veterans with Jewish communities abroad.

One young man, a veteran of the elite Maglan reconnaissance unit, was struggling emotionally when he arrived at Jennifer’s home. “I didn’t know it at the time,” said Jennifer, “but he was broken.”

Months later, she received a call from his mom. “She said to me, ‘I was so afraid to send our son away, and you sent him home healthier – whole.’”

Learning a lesson in living

Jennifer’s own journey to wholeness began with Momentum.

“Before Momentum, my life was never about me,” said Jennifer. “It was always, ‘How do I take care of everyone else around me?’”

Between running her husband’s endodontistry practice and raising their two daughters, the daily demands took a toll. In search of a reprieve, Jennifer joined 45 women on a 2018 trip to Israel that would spark a powerful spiritual transformation.

“It was a very eclectic group,” explained Jennifer. “There were women with preschoolers on the same bus as women whose kids were graduating high school – and yet we were all so immediately supportive of one another.”

As a woman at the helm of her family’s business, Jennifer had always been comfortable with taking charge. But as a self-proclaimed perfectionist, she struggled to hand over the reins and indulge in a week away, even as the weight of responsibility stifled her.

“I grew up believing that perfection was all that would be tolerated,” said Jennifer. Needing control was a byproduct of that mindset, and she had trouble giving it up – but on her Momentum trip, she discovered an alternative perspective.

“Adrienne Gold Davis’ story about the Japanese vase put back together with gold really got to me,” said Jennifer. The careful process, called kintsugi, embraces the vase’s flaws – and makes it even more beautiful and valuable.

The moments she shared with her Momentum sisters helped Jennifer shift her focus and make ‘me time’ a regular practice.

“An old friend who was also on the trip said something that took my breath away,” said Jennifer. “She saw me having fun and being silly, and said, ‘I hope this Jennifer gets to go home.’”

Bringing home inspiration

Browned from the Jerusalem sun and draped in head-to-toe bliss, a new Jennifer landed back home in Boca Raton.

Her husband and kids immediately saw a difference. Jennifer smiled and laughed more, and built new playlists filled with Israeli songs: “There was a lot of eye-rolling from my daughters, but I started planting the seeds anyway,” laughed Jennifer.

A brighter attitude wasn’t all that Jennifer brought back. Along with the optimism and souvenirs was a fresh, infectious love for Judaism.

“It became so important to me that my home looked like a Jewish home,” said Jennifer. “We started lighting Shabbat candles every Friday. We hung mezuzot on all the doors, and framed a photo of my great-grandfather cutting challah at my mother’s wedding.”

The new traditions she built have grown with their daughters. “When my girls went off to college, we began FaceTiming every Friday night to say what we were grateful for.”

Passing on the wisdom

As Jennifer’s passion for Jewish life bloomed, patients at the Shapiros’ practice took notice.

In 2020, when a trip to Israel was canceled due to the pandemic, she purchased a necklace with her Hebrew name on it from an Israeli jewelry maker on Etsy.

“I wanted something to connect me to Israel during a much-needed time of disconnect,” said Jennifer. “When I started wearing it, it seemed to bring our patients peace. They’d see it and feel like they were talking to a member of the tribe.”

The Jewish values she learned on her Momentum trip guide and steady her when dealing with particularly difficult patients.

“Judaism teaches us to act with patience and kindness, but it also empowers us to set boundaries,” explained Jennifer. “It’s amazing how quickly an irate or nervous patient will calm down when we operate under those principles.”

Jennifer regularly puts that wisdom to work beyond the walls of the practice, too.

“Momentum put me on the path that brought me to Peace of Mind,” said Jennifer. “I love those boys. It is so important to me that anybody who fights to keep Israel safe has the opportunity to get the help that they need – and since we’re not fighting, it’s our responsibility to make sure that they get it.”

Her experience changed the trajectory of her children’s lives, too. “One of my daughters wants to become a psychologist. She has worked with kids with special needs, and this summer, she’ll be returning to Israel to intern for Metiv’s Trauma Center in Jerusalem, the same program that runs Peace of Mind.”


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