Ask anyone who has been on a Momentum trip (formerly JWRP) to Israel, and they will tell you it was an amazing and transformative once-in-a-life time experience. Action packed and informative from the moment you land in Israel to the time you board the return plane home, these trips are open to parents of college aged kids and younger. Omaha has been blessed to have organized multiple groups for both men’s and women's trips in the past and many community members have participated.
While the Covid pandemic halted these trips over the past year and a half, Momentum is building once again and the organization is leading a small group of healthcare workers to Israel from July 6-12, 2021 as part of their Healthcare Heroes Trip.
Unlike other Momentum groups, the Healthcare Heroes trip was open by nomination only. Twenty-five mothers working in healthcare from across North America were chosen to participate after an interview process. Two of this year’s selected participants are Omaha’s very own Amy Tipp and Danni Christensen!
According to the Momentum website, “this unique 7-day and 6-night experience will focus on healing souls, connecting with peers, and drawing inspiration from Jewish wisdom and modern-day Israel. It will feature Momentum’s signature educational programming, led by world-class speakers and Israeli thought leaders, as well as exclusive programming developed especially with healthcare workers in mind. Mifgashim (encounters) with Israeli mothers in the healthcare field will be at the heart of our experience. A select group of Israeli women will join our group, sharing their stories and strengthening the connection between Israel and the Diaspora. Upon their return from Israel, participants will continue their year-long journey at home, taking part in a post-trip learning program.”
Participants will spend most of their time in Tel Aviv, with a shabbat stay in Jerusalem and an excursion to Masada. Additionally, they will meet inspiring United Hatzalah first responders and learn about the start-ups behind Israel’s fight against Covid-19 along with the latest Israeli healthcare innovations. They will also visit The Shalva National Inclusion Center and attend a workshop with an Israeli NGO. Upon return, the women will spend a year meeting remotely once a month to continue post trip learning.
Danni Christensen was shocked when Momentum notified her of her nominations. “I was just floored when they contacted me to say I had been nominated by 3 different people,” explains the mother two.
Currently working as the Administrator of CareOne Medical Group, Christensen has over 16 years in the healthcare field. “I have held my CNA license since I was 19 years old and have completed courses towards my nursing degree. I have worked in home health care and hospital settings, but my heart has always belonged to geriatrics and hospice/ end of life care.”
Christensen took part in an Omaha led Momentum trip in 2017, her first and only trip to Israel to date. “It was a trip beyond what I could have ever imagined. To just be nominated for the Healthcare Heroes trip was ...Dayenu. To actually be selected...I was overwhelmed and humbled....I had so many feelings and just no words. It is still just surreal!”
Bashert perhaps, that Amy Tipp would also be selected for this unique opportunity from such a large pool of nominees as the two women not only went on their first Momentum trip together in 2017, but were even roommates!
Tipp earned her nursing degree from The University of Kansas in 1996 and spent years working in women’s health as a labor & delivery nurse. She also taught childbirth education, breastfeeding and Lamaze classes. “Every facet of women’s health and women’s rights has been at the forefront of my care,” she said. “There was never any question as to what specialty I’d pursue.” In 2013 Tipp pursued her Advanced Practice Degree and took a position at The University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Currently working as a Nurse Practitioner at Methodist’s Women Hospital, Tipp first found out about the Healthcare Heroes trip when she was notified of her nomination at the end of May 2021.
“I was just deeply honored to be nominated and humbled to be selected. Considering the number of health care professionals out there and the small number selected for this trip, I really thought my chances of being selected were slim. Especially after the year we have had in healthcare, I feel like there are many more deserving than I,” explains Tipp.
“As this is the inaugural Healthcare Heroes trip, there is no past experience of participants to draw on. Everything has moved very quickly since finding out I was nominated the last week of May. By June 20, I had been interviewed, selected and had attended two virtual meetings. I began a new position at Methodist in February and was nervous about requesting time off with such short notice; I was very relieved that my employer was supportive of this opportunity.”
Tipp explains that Momentum, in accordance with guidance from the State of Israel, is following very strict protocols for their group. “We need a negative PCR test that must be taken before we leave and within 72 hours of our landing in Tel Aviv. Once on the ground, Momentum has hired a company to transport and test us for antigens. They have a very specific test that checks for spike proteins, which confirms vaccination rather than antibodies from having had the virus. To ensure no surprises upon arrival, many of those going on the Healthcare Heroes trip have already been tested for this and will be tested again upon arrival. Surprisingly the only place to get a spike protein test is at Lab Corp in Lincoln as there are no Omaha facilities currently conducting this test. After testing, we will be quarantined in our hotel room until results come back, hopefully in less than a day.”
While the extra layers of health screenings certainly add to the stress of the trip, both ladies agree it is worth it. “Health and safety is obviously of top priority not only for the healthcare professionals going on this trip but also for the group organizers and the Israeli government. From the beginning we were told to be flexible as the trip may be adjusted to meet shifting COVID-19 regulations. In spite of this we are incredibly excited.”