Sister Spotlights

Remembering Sharon Shenker

One of Momentum’s beloved Community Leaders and inspirational educators, Sharon Shenker, passed away on January 23 after a long battle with cancer.

Sharon had many gifts, but above all, friends recalled, she had a special ability to always find time, no matter how busy she was, to offer love and support to someone going through a tough time. Sharon was married to Motti and had five children, worked passionately for JWI/Aish LA, maintained a private practice as a therapist, and led dozens of Jewish initiatives for women and mothers. But somehow she was always able to squeeze extra hours into the day to talk through someone’s problems, to make them feel seen, heard, and loved.

“It didn’t matter what time of day it was — you could just call her, and she’d make time to listen to what you had to say, and stay on the phone with you for hours and hours,” said Sharon Litwak, Momentum Partner Relationship Manager, who first met Sharon Shenker in 2015 through Momentum. “She lived for connecting people to Judaism, and helped people bring it into their homes in any way that worked. She would meet you wherever you were. To know Sharon was to love her.”

Even in her last months, Sharon made support calls to people around the country, helping them face difficult challenges, including counseling people on the loss of loved ones to terminal illness even as she was facing terminal illness herself.

“For months we all prayed, supported and stormed the Heavens as she battled to live,” recalled Lori Palatnik, Momentum’s founding director. “Her always-positive countenance, wit and wisdom were maintained to the end.”

“She lived for connecting people to Judaism and helped people bring it into their homes in any way that worked. She would meet you wherever you were. To know Sharon was to love her.”

Helping others experience beautiful moments 

Sharon worked tirelessly to recruit women for the MOMentum Trip to Israel, meeting often with potential participants to explain more about the experience and assuage apprehensions, and leading the Year of Growth classes as part of the MOMentum Year-Long Journey. 

Litwak said Sharon’s favorite part of the trip was introducing women to the Western Wall, taking time to make the moment as special and meaningful as possible. Litwak recalled once seeing Sharon after a visit to the Wall with tears running down her face. “They were tears of joy, because she could just see the joy of everyone else, and that’s what made her happy — helping others and helping them experience moments like this,” said Litwak. 

Sharon pioneered a number of projects through Momentum and JWI/Aish LA, including “Mom Talks,” which were TED-style talks encouraging women to share their knowledge with a larger group of mothers. Topics ranged from one mother’s struggle to support her daughter through eating disorders, to responding to challenges and decision-making. Litwak said that Sharon often pushed women who were nervous about speaking in public to get out of their comfort zones and share their gifts.

While Sharon’s house was full with her family, she always found room at her Shabbat table for guests, whether it was family or two, or once, 35 last-minute guests for a Momentum Trip reunion.

Living life “The Sharon Way”

Sharon touched thousands of people across the world with her classes, including through the Jewish Marriage Institute, a joint initiative with her husband. Heartfelt memories poured out across social media as people who knew Sharon from trips or from other Jewish organizations shared their favorite memories.

Sharon will be deeply missed by the Momentum community, especially those who were lucky enough to attend one of her trips or classes. 

“I will try to live my life ‘the Sharon way’: live, laugh, love, be kind, and do good,” said Momentum sister Amy Rubin Gordin. “You were larger than life, and inspired so many with your joy, wit, and non-judgmental love. I am certain your work will continue in the hundreds of moms you have touched.” 

“Sharon Shenker — wife, mother, teacher, leader, role model, inspirer, friend, soul-nourisher, master hugger, and SO much more. From the moment I met you, I knew you would be an important person in my life. I — like everyone else who knows you — felt seen, loved, accepted and so special in your presence,” said Momentum sister Nicole Stiller. “Your words of wisdom, your naughty laugh, your life lessons, your great personality and sense of fun and humor, will be desperately missed not only by your beloved husband, children, friends, and community, but especially my family, who absolutely respected, loved, and adored you.”

“You were a wonderful teacher, a kind soul and the person who inspired me to be a better Jew, wife and mother,” wrote Janette Szivia Fishman. “I will forever treasure the lessons you taught, reflect on your willingness to talk about ANYTHING, your dedication, your ability to always smile and focus on the positive. How lucky were we to meet you and be in your presence.”


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.