When Howard Kaplin arrived in Israel for the first time, he was hopeful that he would understand the life-changing experience his wife enjoyed during her MOMentum Trip. Just a few years before, she had returned home brimming with love for Israel and excited to share everything she had learned with their family.
When he arrived home in Louisville, KY, the first thing he did was tell his wife: he finally understood.
Why did you decide to participate in the MoMENtum Men’s Journey?
Besides not having been to Israel before, my wife went on the MOMentum Year-Long Journey in 2017 and was very moved by it. I was excited to be part of the same program and experience something similar.
What is one favorite memory from your time in Israel with MoMENtum?
There were so many! If I had to pick one, it was participating in the service on Masada. I am a Kohen, but I had never had the opportunity to say the Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing, during a service. Reciting the blessing alongside seven other Kohanim was incredible.
What is your favorite piece of Jewish wisdom you learned during your MoMENtum Israel Journey?
I’m not sure that I would call it “wisdom,” but, without question, the most impactful thing I learned about was the Jewish connection to Israel. For those who have not been to Israel, it is nearly impossible to describe the feeling of pride and connection I felt simply being there.
Have you been able to apply the wisdom and insights you learned on your journey with MoMENtum?
What comes to mind is sharing the experience with my kids. Talking about Judaism and being a Jew is special in itself, but experiencing Israel firsthand was something even greater. Being there took that connection to a completely different level. It really filled me with pride to share that feeling with my children.
How did the MoMENtum Men’s Journey impact you and your family?
Finally being able to truly understand what my wife, who had already been on the MOMentum year-Long Journey, had experienced and share my feelings with her was awesome! We were able to talk through what it all meant for us as a couple and as parents, and how we want our children to have that type of experience, which was very impactful.
How did the MoMENtum Men’s Journey affect your professional life?
The lessons I learned during our Torah study program have stayed with me in the way I work. During the program, we talked about the importance of “healthy debate” while studying. A word, a passage, or a situation can be viewed differently by everyone who experiences it, and it’s important – and fun! – for everyone to speak their mind, even if we don’t all agree. As they say in Israel, it’s “geshmak (delicious)!”
If you could go back and talk to your pre-trip self, what would you say to him?
I would remind myself: “Open your mind, soak it up, and experience everything you can!”