Real-life sisters Estee Solar and Vivi Sadel always dreamed of doing yoga in the desert at sundown. Joining the MOMentum Year-Long Journey gave them the chance to make it happen.
It was just one of many uniquely Israeli experiences the sisters had during their journey home. Born in Israel, they moved to Philadelphia in 1973 after the Yom Kippur War with their older brother and parents. Although they built new lives in the United States, Israel was always on their minds.
During summer vacations, they’d return to Israel with their parents, and Vivi even taught Hebrew school for more than 20 years. Still, they felt like something was missing. Their connection to Judaism needed a boost, so Estee decided to check out the MOMentum Year-Long Journey.
But Estee wanted a partner. So, she turned to her younger sister.
Vivi was intrigued by the focus on Israel that Momentum offered, and the two decided to embark on the trip together – becoming Momentum sisters in addition to real-life sisters.
Before their Momentum experience began, the sisters spent a little one-on-one time catching up and returning to their hometown of Haifa. There, they visited their cousins and reminisced about their childhood.
“We went to the house where we were born,” Estee says, “and we went to the school I grew up attending.”
Estee and Vivi grew up with parents who were both Holocaust survivors. Their father was even a veteran of the Palmach, Israel’s pre-statehood military organization. Being in Haifa stirred up old memories and offered new perspectives.
“I saw Israel from a totally different view,” Estee recalls. “Our MOMentum Trip was more spiritual than our childhood vacations, more about how to take care of yourself – because if you’re well, then your family is going to be well.”
After a long career in accounting, Estee transitioned to a more creatively fulfilling endeavor – real estate and interior design. Vivi’s love for wellness propelled her to open a floatation therapy space.
She drew inspiration from her dips in the Dead Sea during her Momentum experience and transformed her business into a little slice of home. “The Dead Sea has amazing curative properties,” Vivi explains, “so I took that experience back with me as an ode to the Middle East and Israel.”
Their creative careers drew them together – and to others. On their MOMentum Trip, Estee and Vivi met women from all walks of life who resonated with both their individual and shared interests and values.
In addition to doing yoga at sundown in the Israeli desert, the sisters had a chance to build connections between younger generations born in the U.S. and Israel and even eat dinner at a private residence across the street from the Kotel.
On a bus filled with women born in Israel, the sisters had a chance to reconnect with their Israeli roots. “We had a lot in common,” Estee says of the women on their bus. “A lot of them left Israel at about the same age that I had.”
“We were able to talk to these women about their beliefs, religion, and identity,” added Vivi.
Vivi was especially drawn to conversations with Momentum sisters who hailed from countries that weren’t as hospitable to Judaism as Israel or the United States. “Though some cultures and traditions are different, there was so much that united us,” Vivi explains.
Strengthening Bonds, Growing Closer to Judaism
Though Estee and Vivi were always close, Momentum was the first time in many years the two had spent so much time together as adults – and it provided them a window into their childhood.
“We laughed and we yelled as sisters do,” Vivi explains, “but overall, we shared some really meaningful, sacred moments.”
The sisters also soaked up lessons on Jewish wisdom from Momentum’s “amazing” Trip Leaders – including the importance of reconnecting with their Jewish roots and passing Jewish values and traditions on to their children.
Prior to Momentum, Estee celebrated the major Jewish holidays. Now, she lights Shabbat candles every Friday like she did when she was younger.
It even encouraged her to give back to the world, with her efforts now focused on raising money for the family of a Ukrainian woman who has been impacted by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Vivi agrees with her sister’s sentiment. “We embrace it,” she says of Jewish life. “If there’s a Jewish concert or an event, we’re there. We support it.”
“Through Momentum, you continue to learn how to plant the seeds,” she continues. “You might not see those seeds grow at the moment, but they grow eventually if you plant the right seeds.”
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Creating More Spaces for Diverse Jewish Women
Before joining the MOMentum Yearlong Journey, one of Dr. Tameika Minor’s biggest concerns about the trip was whether or not there would be other participants from diverse backgrounds. But when she arrived in Israel, she was surprised to see many different types of Jewish women, from all different countries, different levels of observance, and different backgrounds.