Advocacy at WRJ
Is not this the fast that I have chosen:
to unlock the shackles of injustice…
to let the oppressed go free…?
Surely it is to share your bread with the hungry,
and to bring the homeless poor into your house.
- Isaiah (58:6-7)
Women of Reform Judaism’s mandate for social justice advocacy is built upon three foundations: the WRJ constitution; its resolutions; and the values expressed in the texts of our tradition.
The WRJ Constitution, adopted in 1915 when sisterhood women were playing a significant role in the suffragist movement, requires that WRJ “serve Jewish and humanitarian causes....” and “continue to develop special relationships, concerns, and interests on behalf of ... national and international issues”. It also states that WRJ “shall cooperate with the Union for Reform Judaism’s various programs and projects ... to strengthen ... social advocacy, interreligious activities, and concern for Israel.”
To these ends, the delegates to each biennial assembly, as well as the board of directors and the executive committee, adopt resolutions and statements grounded in Torah and Jewish values. These have been published in the volume In Pursuit of Justice: Resolutions and Policy Statements to provide members, coalition partners, and others an understanding of the full range of WRJ policy positions. The resolutions adopted since 2000 are posted on this website and more will be added over time.
WRJ and its affiliated sisterhoods work on critical issues to fulfill the spiritual mandate of tikkun olam, helping to “repair a broken world.” This requirement is fulfilled through communications with Congress and the administration, participation in coalitions, and attendance in meetings, briefings, conferences, and rallies. The goals of these communications include: supporting Israel; ending the genocide in Darfur; seeking gun control; and protecting women’s right to choose. WRJ committees and task forces work closely with the Reform Movement in focusing on particular advocacy areas to gather information and recommend action.
The day is short, the task is great…
and the master is insistent.
You are not required to complete the task,
yet you are not free to withdraw from it.
- Rabbi Tarfon, Pirke Avot
The women’s groups/sisterhoods of WRJ have implemented and enlivened WRJ’s social justice agenda at the local community level through significant programming, for example, providing new school shoes for inner-city youngsters, services for patients with HIV/AIDS, gift bags, clothing and programming for women in shelters, packages for overseas military persons, and major efforts to alleviate hunger.
Most recently, WRJ has advocated providing health care coverage for children, supporting the UN millennial development goals to reduce extreme poverty world-wide, funding international agencies fighting HIV/AIDS, ending the genocide in Darfur, defending against threats to reproductive rights, supporting stem cell research, insuring voting rights, legislating fair taxation policies, and working for security, peace, and religious pluralism in Israel.
Excerpts and key points from To Do Justly are available for download. The complete book,
with full information and resources for sisterhood advocacy and critical
issues’ programming is available for purchase here.