by Sharon Zydney
This week’s Torah portion, Lech L’cha (Genesis 12:1 - 17:27) tells of Abraham leaving the land of his birth, the known, and moving on to an unknown place, a place that God will show him. Abraham and his household do as asked, taking all of their possessions and arrive in the land of Canaan. God promises the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants. After traveling to Egypt to escape famine, Abraham eventually returns to Canaan and settles there. God then reminds Abraham that the land “to the north and to the south, to the east and the west, for all the land that you see I am giving to you and your descendants, forever.” This previously unknown place becomes not only home for Abraham but also for the Jewish people.
WRJ is now at a place very much like where Abraham was in the beginning of this parashah. We are facing a transition, a move from a place of the known to a place that is unknown. November 4-8 in Orlando, FL, the delegates attending the WRJ Assembly 2015 will be voting on significant changes to the WRJ Constitution, changes that will ensure our continued growth as we move into our second century. The result of these constitutional changes will enable WRJ to be more representative of all women who support our work and want to engage with WRJ.
In 2015 we no longer rely on close physical proximity to develop connections, to create shared experiences and to perform meaningful work. Technology allows us to connect virtually, without regards to physical location and to instantaneously share experiences with others, even those on the other side of the world. Many of us choose to experience Judaism, not through membership in a synagogue, but rather by engaging with groups and others who share our Jewish values.
Realizing these technological and demographic changes, WRJ leadership has proposed a number of transformative revisions to our constitution. These revisions, if adopted in Orlando, will allow WRJ members to include women who support our values and want to be engaged in the work we do, even if they are not a member of a Reform congregation. Moving to three year terms of office for WRJ Board members and officers will allow women to more effectively balance the responsibilities of WRJ leadership with other areas of her life. In addition, through the option for electronic voting, participation in the work that Legislative Body does at Assembly will no longer be restricted to those with the ability to be physically present.
For those of you attending the WRJ Assembly in Orlando next month and who will be delegates for your local sisterhood, please review the information on the proposed WRJ Constitutional revisions. If you were unable to attend the webinars that were held in early September please take time to view the recordings. And if you receive a call from a WRJ Board member to talk about these very important changes please make time for a meaningful and thoughtful conversation. While we may not have all of the answers about the ‘how’ we are confident in the ‘what.’ Just like Abraham when he confidently left the known of his birthplace for the unknown that was to be Canaan, WRJ is confidently moving forward to a significant transformation of our own.
Sharon Zydney was the WRJ Fried Leadership Conference 2015 program co-chair. As a WRJ Board member, she has presented several workshops and webinars on Membership and was involved in the WRJ Transformation Working Group.