Sister Spotlights

After infertility, finding inspiration to help others

Silvia Oppenheim Findling has a culinary background, so for her, it comes naturally to associate the culinary with the everyday – and during her first MOMentum Trip to Israel gathering this summer, she had a delicious realization.

“We were sharing really vulnerable stories and finding so many similarities, and it just felt like each woman was slowly peeling away one layer after another, like an onion, revealing their true selves,” said Silvia. Brought together by B’nai Aviv of Weston, a Momentum Partner Organization, Silvia’s cohort of Florida moms became as close as sisters in a matter of days.

“It was an opportunity to be who we are, to be true, to be raw. We cried a lot and we laughed a lot. We talked about hard things that women don’t often talk about. It’s hard to be vulnerable, but I felt like this program created a little cocoon around us, a safe space to let us slowly peel our layers away.”


A journey of loss, a need for connection

Silvia was raised in Brazil, the child of Jews who fled the Holocaust. Growing up as part of a small Jewish community had its challenges.

“Brazil was very Catholic, so I almost caught myself hiding that I was Jewish, feeling like I was misunderstood, or an outcast,” said Silvia. Now that she lives in South Florida, surrounded by a large and vibrant Jewish community, she no longer feels isolated and she’s learning to wear her Jewish identity proudly and publicly.

She was especially looking for a connection to Judaism during a difficult journey with infertility.

“I lost three babies, and I always felt like people were looking at me every time I walked into the synagogue, as if everyone was asking, ‘Where are her kids?’” said Silvia. “I felt so alone, as if I was failing at the most important job a Jewish woman is bound to fulfill.”

During her MOMentum trip, Silvia shared her story – and her openness created a safe space for numerous other women who had also battled infertility, suffered pregnancy loss, and endured treatments to speak up as well.

Looking back, she acknowledges that one of the things that could have provided comfort during that harrowing time when she was trying to become pregnant was “Jewish wisdom, a circle of trust, a Jewish sisterhood.”

Today, Silvia has two children – a 6 year-old son who loves Israel and wears a pretend tallit to synagogue each Shabbat, and a 4 year-old daughter who collects the coins she finds around the house for the tzedakah box and sings Hatikvah to her dolls.

“I think if I had had more connection to Jewish sources, clergy, friends, professionals to rely on, my infertility journey wouldn’t have felt as isolating, and the anxiety – sometimes anger – would have turned into hope earlier on.”

“That’s when I knew, this is why I came to Israel. I needed to feel the energy of this place. I needed to come to Israel to find me; find my purpose.”

The “HP Moment” that inspired a foundation

Though she didn’t have access to those resources at the time, Silvia has searched for years for a way to help others experiencing infertility, so no one would have to go through that journey feeling they don’t have support. It was in Israel this summer that her dream crystallized into a plan.

She was standing in Tzfat, surrounded by the rolling hills of Israel’s north and the ancient alleyways where art and Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, have swirled for centuries.

Silvia was feeling a strong connection to her grandmother, who had been a Kabbalah teacher in Brazil, when she suddenly heard a familiar sound – a piano player had launched into Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” a song that had been a source of comfort during Silvia’s first pregnancy loss.

“Of all the songs he could play, why would he play that song?” she asked. “That’s when I knew, this is why I came to Israel. I needed to feel the energy of this place. I needed to come to Israel to find me; find my purpose.”

At that moment, she knew it was her turn to be a source of comfort for others. In that moment, she decided she would found an organization dedicated to guiding and supporting Jewish couples of all orientations experiencing infertility.

She hopes her organization will be able to provide financial, emotional, and spiritual support to Jews during every part of the infertility journey, from initial consultation to postpartum recovery. “Judaism has such a rich tradition about ways to deal with loss and grief but also hope, which can be incredibly useful when couples are going through pregnancy loss and infertility,” she said.

The girl in the Yad Vashem painting

That moment in Tzfat was one of two goosebump-worthy “Higher Power” moments Silvia experienced while in Israel.

The second came during her visit to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. It was crowded on the day that Silvia and her Momentum sisters visited, but out of the corner of her eye, she saw a painting that piqued her interest.

“It was an oil painting of this little girl with blonde curly hair, and I just couldn’t stop staring at it,” said Silvia. “I was looking and looking at it, and I didn’t know why – and then I looked in the corner. It was signed ‘Oppenheim,’ which is my family’s last name on my dad’s side.”

Though she was surrounded by tourists, Silvia felt like there was no one in the room but her and that little girl. She knew many people with the last name “Oppenheim” come from the same town in Germany, and wondered if the artist or the subject knew her grandfather or more about her family’s history.

Though Silvia’s maternal grandmother was open about her experiences – including recording a testimony about her experience fleeing Nazy Germany – her grandfather refused to talk about the war, so she had little information about what he went through. She is now reaching out to Yad Vashem’s archivists in hope to find out more about the artist and the story of the little girl.

“Of all the artifacts and paintings in Yad Vashem, I went to look exactly at that painting,” said Silvia, still incredulous about the connection. “It felt like there was a reason I was drawn to that painting. Maybe I’m finally going to find information about another side of my history I really don’t know much about.”

Good enough to eat

Now at home, Silvia is drawing on her experience in the nonprofit world to launch into the first steps of setting up her dream organization.

She has previously managed multiple charitable endeavors related to food, including organizing hundreds of donated meals for cancer patients and chairing a yearly event called “No Kid Hungry.” She is now the Chief Development Officer at the American Friends of Jewish Hospitals and Education Centers of Brazil, raising money for a Jewish hospital and senior home in Brazil.

Silvia also identifies as a “recovering chef” who spent years in the worlds of food production, recipe development, and food-related start-ups. She is certified in nutrition for cancer patients, focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet.

Though Silvia has significant experience in the nonprofit world, she’s still a little nervous about launching her own foundation – and she’s okay with that.

“One of the things we learned on my MOMentum Trip is that it’s alright if things are hard, because it means you’re on the right path,” she said. “If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing. Sometimes when it feels like we’ve been buried, we have actually been planted.”

Silvia Findling participated in the MOMentum Yearlong Journey with Partner Organization B’nai Aviv


Choose your Journey

Mother to Mother Israel Unity Mission
May 13-19, 2024 | July 2-7, 2024

Join our leadership, alumnae, and our partner organizations in supporting our sisters and their families with love, strength, and taking action.


Unity Mission for Men
May 13-19, 2024

Momentum leadership, alumni and fathers of lone soldiers are embarking on this critical mission to support our fellow Israeli fathers, brothers, and their families, as we take action and bring them spiritual strength.


Apply to 2024 Fall Trips
For Jewish mothers with children age 18 and under

Participants only pay their acceptance fee and airfare

To participate in the Momentum Yearlong Journey, women must live in close proximity to a Partner Organization. See our partners list here. Please notify your Community Leader with any updates to your application


Apply to 2024 Fall Trips
Mainly for the husbands of Momentum sisters

$900 for Momentum husbands

Each man get a scholarship of $2,100-$2,400

Partner Organization contributes $700 per man

The Israeli Government does not contribute to the Men’s Trips

To participate, men must live in close proximity to a Partner Organization. See our partners list here. Please notify your Community Leader with any updates to your application


November 4-11, 2024

An exclusive, transformational, spiritual, and uplifting journey for women looking to invest in themselves and help us continue to build the Momentum movement.

Please note: This trip is not subsidized.