Heart to Heart Mission Inspires Merit

Sami Merit and Jessica Lerner Halprin recently returned from a unique and special trip to Israel made possible by Jewish Federation’s National Women’s Philanthropy. Heart to Heart is an incredible mission that connects and inspires women. 

During this five-day mission, women experienced the inspiring work Federation makes possible in Israel. 

Jennifer Bayer, Assistant Director of Development for the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, spoke recently with Sami Merit about her experience. 

JB: What did you find unique about traveling to Israel through Jewish Federation’s National Women’s Philanthropy? 

SM: The itinerary showcased the works of our Federations in Israel. The mission tangibly demonstrates how we are supporting all facets of life in Israel from at-risk youth to our aging Holocaust survivors.

Since the site visits were selected to appeal to women, we learned a bit about the roles of our Israeli counterparts. 

JB: What were some highlights of this trip?

SM: I loved meeting the “changemakers!” We met an Arab woman from Lod working with Arab and Ethiopian at-risk youth in a single community center. A Haredi woman from Jerusalem told us how the JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) supports her work to enhance job opportunities for ultra-orthodox women. 

JB: How would you describe being with other communities from around the country?

SM: So inspiring! I met women from comparably-sized communities. We face the same challenges of maintaining engagement, changing demographics and “branding” Jewish social experiences positively. The mission was its own “big tent” in that we were 25-85, unaffiliated to frum, third generation Lions of Judah to just gave to the Annual Campaign to come on this mission.


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