Sister Spotlights
5 MIN. READ

Finding Momentum at Exactly the Right Time

“Look up Lori Palatnik,” advised a friend.

Marni Darby was at a crossroads. She just didn’t know it at the time.

Marni had grown up in a tight-knit Jewish community in Arizona. She devoted Saturday mornings to her local synagogue, volunteered at the Jewish Community Center nearby, and lit the menorah on Hanukkah.

“I celebrated my Jewishness every way I knew how,” said Marni. “But I needed more.”

In 2009, Marni joined a group of 40 women heading to Israel. It was her first trip to the Jewish homeland in almost three decades — and her first trip with Momentum.

“When I heard Lori talk for the first time, I knew I had to take her trip for Jewish mothers. I was drawn to her passion. I was drawn to the women. Our lives were so different, but we all shared this energy, this desire to connect with our Jewishness in a deeper way.”

Recently separated and grappling with her new reality, Marni leaned on her newfound circle for guidance.

“I was in a tough place,” recalled Marni. “I was transitioning out of my marriage, and I craved a sense of familiarity. A sense of family. That first MOMentum Trip opened the world to me.”

As the group gathered for Shabbat one afternoon, Marni spotted the friend whose advice years before had led her to Lori and Momentum. “She was right there, at the steps of our host’s home. I immediately broke down. I told her, ‘Tammy, you’re the one who helped me do this.’ She had brought me to this moment, and I didn’t even realize it until I got there.”

Learning to celebrate life

Since joining Momentum, Marni has returned to Israel as a madricha and Momentum Community Leader. She has become a fixture in the community, and is a familiar face within Momentum’s learning circles.

“My brother used to tell me that reading a book wasn’t enough. That I needed a teacher,'” recalled Marni. “So I joined the Wednesday Torah class and eventually the Saturday class as well. And I never missed a session.”

Learning became Marni’s outlet. In the classroom, she reclaimed her voice and gained lessons in love and life that have shaped her journey since.

“I found the structure and support I needed. The women I met in these classes, some whom I’ve known since that first trip, have changed my life,” said Marni. “They’re my closest and dearest friends.”

Widening the circle

Today, Marni regularly hosts Shabbat dinners, trading stories and recipes at the table she shares with her Momentum sisters. Their unbreakable sisterhood inspired Marni to launch the At the Well Project, which empowers women to live whole, fully-connected lives through transformative Jewish practices.

“I’m so grateful to be able to bring Judaism to the people I love,” said Marni. “I want everyone to find the hope and strength that I found. Open your heart. Practice gratitude. That’s what I tell my family and friends, and that’s the advice I live by.”

Embracing a higher power

Marni credits her relationship with God for placing the right people on her path.

“He’s a regular in my life, and I owe my spirituality to Him.”

For Marni, every connection — the unseen, the celebrated, the fleeting — is a token of that invisible force at work.

“You never realize your journey is happening before it happens. It has actually mapped itself out long before it starts. I think about meeting Lori. I think about connecting to Tammy. I think back to my childhood,” reflected Marni. “I am so blessed that Momentum came into my life when it did. And I know that it wasn’t by chance.”


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