by Rachel Shapiro-Wicks
Every year, my sisters, our mom, and I take a trip: a long weekend in a new city to spend some quality time together. It’s a new tradition I’ve come to look forward to each year. We don’t see much of one another during the year, living our lives in different cities with varying schedules and priorities. So our time together, while short, has become precious.
It’s not just those trips; time has become much more precious as I age. Spending quality time with friends and loved ones has become a greater priority for me in recent years. I turned 40 the year our weekend getaways began, a major milestone year to assess and reprioritize my career, my relationships, and what I can contribute to my community, to the world.
One realization became apparent, not only did I want to spend more time with my sisters but I was longing to connect with other women as well. Other Jewish women.
I grew up in a spiritual house. Judaism was a large part of my childhood and has helped shape the person I am today. But I lost my way during the early years of my interfaith marriage and did not introduce my children to the beauty of Judaism until recently when I began to accept the nagging feeling that there was something missing in my life.
Call it a mid-life crisis, or a soul-searching attempt to re-connect with my Judaism, but I joined a Conservative synagogue located close to my home. I immediately enrolled my daughter in religious school to prepare for her Bat Mitzvah.
I had envisioned days filled with volunteering and fundraising, and nights filled with sisterhood bingo and meaningful discussions over wine. I was imagining making great friendships and fulfilling a need I never had before for female friendship. I was expecting to have similar experiences to the stories my sister would tell me each week about her sisterhood events and WRJ trips.
Maybe it was the unfamiliar Conservative environment, or my unrealistic expectations, but the truth is I didn’t find what I was looking for. I didn’t connect to the people I met and the surroundings I was in.
While my daughter is thriving, embracing Judaism, and forming good friendships, I find myself still seeking to fulfill that basic need for like-minded relationships and a need to be part of something greater than I am.
When my sister (WRJ Vice President of Development and Special Projects Sharon K. Benoff) told me that WRJ was considering individual memberships I immediately asked if I could join. In fact I’ve already sent in my membership dues…call me an optimist! Being able to join my sisters and mother at WRJ events would be the pinnacle of bringing together my faith, my need to connect with other Reform Jewish women, and my desire to be part of a larger Jewish community together.
I’m looking forward to being a contributor and getting involved in events and fundraising. Being a part of WRJ is not just for me at the moment, but for my daughter in the future. To set an example of being a progressive Jewish woman who cares about Israel and Jewish issues, and a strong role model for Reform Judaism and the future of the religion as she grows up and has children of her own.
This could be the beginning of a new chapter in my life, one I hope to share with my family, new friends, and eventually my daughter.
Rachel Shapiro-Wicks is a Healthcare Marketing and Advertising Executive. She lives in Phoenixville, PA with her husband of 15 years and their two children, George (13) and Leah (11) and two fur balls, Cocoa and Marshmallow. When she isn’t screaming from the sidelines of the soccer field, she enjoys traveling, art, entertaining for friends and family, and most of all curling up to a good book.