OPINION: Mother-daughter Israel trip was far more meaningful than either of us expected

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OPINION: Mother-daughter Israel trip was far more meaningful than either of us expected

Mum Lauren Praverman's group trip to Israel with batmitzvahed daughter Ella helped her see "the positive impact even small acts of kindness have on people in need".

Batmitzvah mums and daughters for Myisrael, February 2023.
Batmitzvah mums and daughters for Myisrael, February 2023.

During half term, a group of seven mothers and daughters took part in a batmitzvah trip for a charity that connected donors with 18 inspirational causes in Israel which would otherwise go unseen. Visiting seven Myisrael’s projects, the women spent four days seeing a different side to Israel. Here, mother Lauren Praverman writes of her experience with daughter Ella.

“How far apart does Uncle Sam need to sit from cousin Stephen? Are we positive we’ve counted the right number of gluten free guests? Did you remind the DJ that under no circumstances is he to play YMCA?

Mum Lauren with daughter Ella, Myisrael February 2023

It’s so easy to get completely lost in the minutiae of organising a bar or batmitzvah and forget to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

I am most definitely guilty as charged.

So, when I heard about the Myisrael mother and daughter trip taking place just one week after my daughter Ella’s batmitzvah, it felt like the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time together whilst recharging after a manic few weeks.

I signed up, booked our flights and then didn’t think much about it as I was, of course, swarming in logistics and little else.

And then, when the batmitzvah was over and the messages and calls finally abated, Ella and I found ourselves on our way to a trip which turned out to be far more memorable, meaningful and emotional than either of us could have ever expected.

I must confess, I only knew a little about Myisrael when I signed up. But during our trip, they opened our eyes to an Israel we never even knew existed. Myisrael supports under-the radar causes in Israel who are transforming the lives of incredibly vulnerable people.

And each day, as well as sampling a taste of Israel (the graffiti tour being a highlight for Ella, the yoga on the beach not so much!), we witnessed the remarkable approaches of seven Myisrael charities.

It was probably the most inspiring and uplifting experience of our lives.

These charities were nothing like anything we had experienced before. At Homebase, a charity which uses the power of football and music to transform the lives of homeless people, we sang with one of their women’s choirs.

It’s difficult to put into words what the choir means to these women. They perform as if their lives depend on it. It’s what gives them joy and hope despite their shattering stories. We didn’t want to leave them. They didn’t want us to leave. It was the first of many tears shed during our trip.

Myisrael batmitzvah trip 2023.

None more so that during our visit to Beit Daniella, a recovery day centre for youth struggling with mental health issues. There we met with Hadassa who founded the charity in memory of her beautiful daughter Daniella who took her own life at the age of 14 after her anorexia became too much to bear.

The only refuge Daniella found during her struggle with anorexia was her visits to a therapeutic dog kennel where she would forget her worries and devote her time to living and caring for the dogs. Animal therapy now plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation process at Beit Daniella, and we saw this remarkable tool first hand as we cuddled eight golden retriever puppies and took part in a moving horse-riding therapy session.

It wasn’t all tears during our trip though. In fact, it was probably the most inspiring and uplifting experience of our lives.

During our visit to Click, a community lifeline for the elderly, we joined the 98th birthday party of Holocaust survivor, Hannah – we sung, we danced, we ate A LOT of ice cream and we bonded with the wonderful members of Click in just a matter of hours.

When so many children are understandably caught up in the big party and exciting gifts, this unique opportunity enabled Ella to take a step back and recognise that this could be the beginning of something so much bigger.

All the charities we visited couldn’t have been more welcoming and their affection for Myisrael was self-evident. It wasn’t just because of the money Myisrael raises for them. It was about the mentoring they receive. They way in which the charity strives to help each charity fulfil their potential. Myisrael was part of their family. And it felt like we became part of their family too.

During my batmitvah speech to Ella, I’d said: “This weekend has been all about you. We live in a world of self-identity, self-care, being your true, authentic self – but in my opinion these are all the wrong messages. We are who we are because of the people around us who build us up.”

Without realising it, I had signed us up to an experience that brought this message to life better than any speech ever will. We saw and felt the power of community and the positive impact even small acts of kindness can have on people in need.

For anyone planning a batmitzvah, I would urge you to take part in a trip like we did. When so many children are understandably caught up in the big party and exciting gifts, this unique opportunity enabled Ella to take a step back and recognise that this could be the beginning of something so much bigger.

Her own lifelong commitment to social responsibility and an understanding of how she could carve her own unique place in this world.

The batmitzvah celebrations may be over, but the impact of our Israel trip will stay with us forever.

Find out more about the charity here

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