Sheryl Press forgot she was in Phoenix. Standing in her kitchen — the aroma of sumac and zaatar awakening her senses — she was back at the Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, draped in the perfume of exotic spices and buzzing with joy.
“My husband is a chef, so I bought a lot of spices,” laughed Sheryl. “Every time we cook with them, I remember my first MOMentum Trip. Going to Machane Yehuda, visiting the Western Wall, coming together for Shabbat dinner – it was an incredibly soulful experience for me.”
Putting down roots
Sheryl’s involvement in Jewish communal life started early, and as a youth, she often spent her time volunteering and connecting with neighbors at her local synagogue. But when Sheryl left home, that sense of community waned. She wouldn’t feel its full force again until she settled in Phoenix with her husband and their two kids.
“I moved a few times before coming to Phoenix,” recalled Sheryl. “Sadly, I lost that connection. I wanted to reclaim that feeling of belonging, and I wanted my family to experience it too. That’s why I joined Momentum.”
Since joining in 2017, Sheryl has become a vocal ambassador for Momentum’s community of soul searchers.
“The most valuable gift Momentum has given me is these women,” said Sheryl. “Our sisterhood has opened up my world in unimaginable ways.”
Bringing the connection home
Sheryl’s bond with her Momentum family inspired a deeper connection with her own.
“It’s funny to me now that I rarely told my husband I missed him,” said Sheryl. “I just didn’t recognize the importance of saying it until Momentum entered my life.”
Lessons in vulnerability and openness — among many — have stuck with Sheryl, settling into her life at home with the easy familiarity of an old friend.
“I’ve become more open. More connected. My husband and I actually schedule date nights now, and we make it a priority to connect as a family,” smiled Sheryl. “Momentum has definitely brought us closer.”
A personal and professional transformation
Building stronger family and community ties awakened a profound personal evolution for Sheryl – one that has also impacted her professional life.
“I worked in public relations for 25 years, and I loved it. But joining Momentum sparked this intense desire to exit that world and jump into Jewish communal work.”
Sheryl had been interviewing for months, and weeks after returning from Israel, she landed her dream job. “I ended up getting hired by the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, which, incredibly, had sponsored my first MOMentum Trip,” recounted Sheryl. “That’s how I became their Campaign Director and Head of Women’s Philanthropy.”
Sheryl credits Momentum for empowering her to make the leap.
“I am definitely the poster child for the amazing things that can happen when a woman experiences Momentum.”
Inspiring a new wave of leadership
Inspired to share her journey, Sheryl decided to return to Israel as a Momentum Community Leader.
“I saw myself in these women. Many had kids who were about to or had already left home,” explained Sheryl. “The goal of this trip was to help them reconnect with their identity as people, not just as parents — and to empower them to share their talents as leaders.”
Since then, several Momentum sisters have earned a name for their leadership in the community. They have chaired events, become donors, and sat on boards of partner organizations.
“I look forward to more and more Momentum community members stepping into leadership roles,” said Sheryl. “We all have a spark that drives us, but Momentum pushes us further — igniting that spark into a full flame. I speak from experience.”
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