2018-08-29 / Home


Motivational speaker returns from Israel trip even more revved up


Parents Phyllis and Dan Soufer; sons Jacob, 24, and Ari, 14



Mount Laurel






Temple University, football, winter, red wine and spending time with her kids



Mac & cheese






Voice staff

Every day that Lisa Bien spent in Israel this summer on a Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project trip seemed magical and blessed.

“It wasn’t just a vacation for me; it was a life-changing experience,” insisted Bien of the July 9-16 visit sponsored locally by Kellman Brown Academy. “Every day I was like, ‘well, that was the greatest day of my life. How are they going to top that tomorrow?’ I never felt so peaceful in my life. I honestly felt I came back a better human being, not just a better Jew.”

The radiantly warm Northeast Philadelphia native departed Israel (reluctantly) with a new Hebrew name, a personal goal to become a bat mitzvah and a stepped-up mission to spread her message: That self-love and acceptance is the key to becoming the best version of oneself.

Bien, a motivational speaker, life coach and talk show host on Temple University Television, has always been proud of her heritage--even back in the day when self doubt and low self-esteem plagued her. During the JWRP trip, she discovered just how Jewish her message has always been. Moreover, she realized the magic of Israel that she experienced is within everybody’s reach.

“There is magic in Israel and there is magic in everyday life; it’s all about how we look at things,” said Bien, whose TV show “Bouncing Back” tackles sensitive topics of relevance to young adults and older ones alike, such as sexual assault, suicide, stress and eating disorders.

“My message is that you have to become your own best friend,” she said. “When I was on the top of Masada, our tour guide talked about taking 15 minutes or so a day for yourself to reflect on how to be better version of you.”

It was as if her inner voice was talking, noted Bien, who devotes two hours each day in the very early morning as “me time.”

“I start every day thanking God that I am even able to get up, that I’m breathing, for my children,” said Bien, whose day job is in hospital communications. “I don’t take anything for granted.”

Bien did not have Israel on her radar in early June when a girlfriend texted about a spot that opened up on the already-planned Israel trip sponsored by KBA. Influenced by her Zionist aunt and uncle, she has always wanted to go but the timing was never right.

JWRP bills its trips as an opportunity of self-exploration for Jewish mothers. Since 2009, some 15,000 women from across the globe have participated in the heavily subsidized trips. Without realizing it, this was exactly what she has been seeking. Within a month of interviewing for the opening, she was on the plane with other local moms who have been very close since the start of their mission.

Once in the Holy Land, she was so focused on taking in everything that she barely slept over the entirety of the trip.

“I was so tired at the end of the days. I would want to sleep, but I would put my head down, and then I would realize I’m in Israel and become wide awake,” she said.

Bien has had a Hebrew name since birth. It’s Leah--for the first wife of Jacob. In Jerusalem, she chose to also take on “Ahuvah,” which means “beloved,” and has “heart” at its root.  To meet her is to know immediately she leads with her heart. On the same day she adapted this new name, she found a Jerusalem jeweler selling a necklace with the name Leah etched in Hebrew inside a heart-shaped pendant designed to look like the Western Wall. She has not taken off the necklace since her return.

During one of many visits to the wall, she asked God for a sign that she was on the right path. As she looked up at the ancient stones, it appeared that a heart was imprinted on the wall, likely as a result of the sun streaming through clouds. That was her sign.

“I cried every day, tears of joy and of awe,” she added.

Back home, Bien has returned to her usual pursuits, but there is a difference. She feels more motivated than ever to reach those in need. And she will have an opportunity to spread her message on Yom Kippur as a speaker at the Synagogue Without Walls Service Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 10 a.m. at The Mansion in Voorhees. Her speech, not surprisingly, is on the magic of Israel. For more information, contact Cantor Scott Borsky at (267) 971-8799 or visit www.cantorborsky.com. 

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