Oh, Baby!

Honeymoon Israel creates meaningful Jewish experiences for the youngest members of their community

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Honeymoon Israel and the baby carriage. Lots and lots of baby carriages.

Honeymoon Israel is a nonprofit organization that provides immersive trips to Israel for locally based cohorts of couples that have at least one Jewish partner, early in their committed relationship. The purpose of Honeymoon Israel is to create communities of couples who are building families with deep and meaningful connections to Jewish life and the Jewish people. Honeymoon Israel currently runs trips out of 16 communities across North America, including the Bay Area. 120 couples have traveled to Israel as participants in the six trips from the Bay Area so far. One hundred percent of couples who have returned home to the Bay Area after Honeymoon Israel say they are doing so with new connections to Judaism, and new friends that quickly have become their ‘family.’

With regards to the correlation between Honeymoon Israel and babies, our data shows that many couples who choose to apply and ultimately participate on Honeymoon Israel are doing so with family planning in mind – and typically around planning for their first child. In the Bay Area specifically, approximately 50% of Honeymoon Israel couples have either been pregnant while on the trip, or become pregnant within the year after returning home.

Honeymoon Israel cannot do what we do without the strong partnerships that we have with local Bay Area organizations. Many couples are seeking resources once they return home so that they can build their own Jewish family – and that is where these local partnerships truly shine! One of the ways we have supported Honeymoon Israel families on this journey is through “Baby Care Packages.” Every time a baby is born to a Bay Area Honeymoon Israel couple, they receive a package that includes:

  • An adorable Honeymoon Israel onesie
  • A bib from Jewish Baby Network, an organization that operates in San Francisco, the Peninsula and the South Bay and provides resources, Jewish-focused family events, playtimes, birthing classes and more.
  • Their first PJ Library® book. PJ Library sends free, award-winning books that celebrate Jewish values and culture. PJ Library is regionally based, so we make sure to include the region-specific registration information along with the family’s first book.
  • A ‘Jewish Mother’ pen
  • Brochures from Sprout: Sprout supports families in the East Bay with personalized referrals and grants for Jewish life and summer camps.
  • Brochures from local JCCs: JCCs are at the center of building and preserving Jewish life. They offer a multitude of programs and have locations in each region that Honeymoon Israel serves.
Modeling the HMI onesie

Each of these organizations has something different and valuable to offer new families, and we love helping facilitate those connections. Honeymoon Israel parents adore these baby packages and, through the information provided to them, are becoming acquainted with the wealth of resources that the Bay Area has to offer. One couple commented, "We loved receiving our HMI baby care package! The resources have helped inform how we introduce our culture to our son.” Another couple shared, “After the arrival of our little one, we received a new baby care package from HMI. It introduced us to PJ Library, which is helping build our library of Jewish-themed books. We get one in the mail every month and each one is great!"

In addition, we recognize that many Honeymoon Israel families are also just starting to think about family planning and in these cases, we connect them to other resources that might be helpful on their journey such as:

  • Hasidah, an organization that raises awareness about infertility, connects people to support resources, and reduces financial barriers to treatment in the Jewish community.
  • JScreen, a community-based public health initiative dedicated to preventing Jewish genetic diseases, which offers an affordable and easy way to do genetic testing for couples.

In general, Honeymoon Israel aims to support couples’ journeys in whatever way they need or seek out. It’s not only about the 10-day trip to Israel, it’s about what happens when these couples return home.

HMI Babies and Brews event in San Francisco

Lisa Motenko is the Director of Community Engagement, SF Bay Area at Honeymoon Israel. If your organization is interested in supporting local Honeymoon Israel couples once they return home to the Bay Area, contact her at sfbayarea@honeymoonisrael.org.

The Federation has partnered with and supported Honeymoon Israel in its local work by providing two years of seed funding for the Bay Area cohorts, while collaborating on its programming by referring candidates for trip staffing, providing conference room space for interviews and orientations, and facilitating new partnerships with other local organizations and programs.


February 01, 2018


Lisa Motenko