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On the road in Israel

Connecticut’s Liora Rez joins other female “media magnets” on a high-powered trip to the Jewish state

By Stacey Dresner

Liora Rez is a “media magnet.”

Liora Rez

In the social media world, that means she has the power to influence followers – 91,000+ of them – through her Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat accounts and her website and blog, all under the brand “The Jewish Chick.”

In November, the Connecticut resident was one of 30 Jewish women – all media magnets in their own right – to take a trip to Israel as part of the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP).

Through its flagship MOMentum program, JWRP, an international non-profit headquartered in Rockville, Md., takes Jewish women – many unaffiliated – to Israel to study together and hopefully continue their Jewish involvement after returning home, with their families and in their communities. A group of Hartford area women took the MOMentum trip to Israel in November of 2016 (“The Power of Women,” Jewish Ledger, Jan. 11, 2017). The trip has been called “Birthright for Jewish Moms.”

This most recent JWRP trip was a little different.

The 30 “media magnets” on Rez’s trip were recruited from around North America specifically for their skills as media influencers.

The group included actress Michaela Watkins, who has starred in countless films and television shows, including “Transparent” and “Veep”; and Amy Kritzer, a West Hartford native now living in San Francisco, who is the founder of the cooking blog, “What Jew Wanna Eat.” Together, the 30 women reach more than 10 million followers.

“Our Media Magnets are strong, savvy Jewish women who millions of people turn to for their insights each day,” said Adrienne Gold Davis, JWRP trip leader. “The JWRP is thrilled to be bringing these incredible women to Israel and helping both them and their fans connect to Jewish values and make the world a better place.”

Rez and her fellow travellers travelled to the usual tourist spots like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Tzfat, and the Dead Sea. But their customized itinerary also included a visit to Israel’s first fashion house; lunch at the President’s residence; and an exclusive cocktail party with WMN, “a community, a co-working space and ecosystem” for women-led ventures in Tel Aviv, where they honored Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. They participated in intimate discussions with Israeli media professionals, artists, entrepreneurs, and government officials, designed to spark creative joint endeavors.

“I was so wowed by their ability to bring Jewish women together and show them Israel,” Rez said.

Born in Kaunas, Lithuania to Jewish parents, Rez and her family immigrated to America when she was four, settling in Cleveland, where there is a large Russian population.

“Like so many immigrants from the former USSR there was no religion in the home. You were told you were Jewish and that was it,” she said.

She did attend Hebrew school for one year and despite her family’s lack of Jewish practice, she had a bat mitzvah.

“It is just a rite of passage,” she explained. “The one benchmark for most former Soviet Jews is the bar and bat mitzvah.”

She attended Brandeis where she got a BS in neuroscience (she minored in statistics). She later got her MBA in finance and worked for 10 years in the structured business world. She came to Connecticut when her now ex-husband was transferred to the area.

When her daughter was born seven years ago and soon was found to have a rare metabolic condition (now under control), Rez became a stay-at-home mom.

While devoted to her daughter, the former corporate executive was also feeling a bit isolated and lonely.

In 2013 she began her Instagram page. Touted as “Where Fashion and Judaism Collide,” Jewish Chick’s Instagram postings feature shots of Rez modeling assorted designer outfits, shoes and handbags.

“I said I was just some Jewish chick and that became my handle.”

In 2015 when Instagram really took off, her number of followers grew and in 2016 she started The Jewish Chick Facebook page, which veers more to the Judaic and Zionistic. From posts sharing Israel tourism figures to one cheering Israeli actress Gal Gadot being named the new face of Revlon, she shares all things pro-Israel.

This past summer, she created her webpage and began writing her blog.

Fashion still rules on her website, with blog offerings on work wear, winter clothing for the whole family, and a Chanukah gift guide. But those blog posts are interspersed with thoughtful articles like, “Enough with the Yellow Star,” her admonishment to celebrities who last year wore yellow stars pinned to their clothes in a supposed thumbs down to antisemitism.

She wasted no time in sharing about the Israel trip on her sites.

The most meaningful part of the trip, she said in her blog, was visiting Ziv Medical Center in Safed to see how Israeli doctors are treating – and saving the lives of – Syrian refugees.

She also writes about meeting Moshe Basson, the owner of Eucalyptus, an award winning restaurant, and the founder of Chefs4Peace, through which chefs bring people from different religions together in the kitchen.

Her piece “Jews, Muslims and Christians…Oh My!” about how truly cohesive she finds Israel’s “melting pot” for the three religions, was also featured in The Forward.

Rez and the media magnets also met up several times with groups of JWRP’s MOMentum participants.

“They had a lot of women from the former USSR and the energy was electric. It was amazing,” Rez recalled. “These Jewish women who like me were told they were Jewish and that’s all they got…there were tears running down their faces. The energy you feel warms your heart.”

Visit The Jewish Chick at jewishchick.net; instagram.com/JewishChick; and facebook.com/JewishChick.

A Jewish Women’s Renaissance Program “Mitzvah Mamas” trip to Israel for women in the greater Hartford area is scheduled for Oct. 22-28, 2018. For more information, contact Mindy Glickman at 917-698-7952; MitzvahMamas@gmail.com; or go to facebook.com/mitzvahmamas.

CAP: Media magnets Anabelle Blum, Jeannette Kaplun and Liora Rez, The Jewish Chick, at the Kotel.

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