Today I am thrilled to inform you that WRJ is accomplishing great things in some of Brazil’s Progressive and Reform congregations. Thanks to WRJ’s mentoring and support, and also to the support of WUPJ Latin America, we’ve been able to develop some wonderfully successful projects. Each day we are attracting the interest of new women’s groups in various regions and gaining more committed volunteers.
Adult Bat Mitzvah Project: Our second adult bat mitzvah cohort started to study with the guidance of Rabbi Ruben Sternschein. The banot mitzvah will take place in Recife, Brazil at Kahal Zur Israel, the first synagogue in the Americas, on August 4th at the WUPJ Latin America Conference. I would like to extend an invitation to this conference to all of our sisters abroad. It would be a great honor to have you there and would show our new groups that we truly are stronger together.
Shirat Miriam’s 4th Anniversary Celebration: Shirat Miriam, the sisterhood at Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP) in Sao Paulo, Brazil and the first Latin American sisterhood affiliated with WRJ – is commemorating its 4th anniversary.
The sisterhood was celebrated in CIP’S Sukkah. It was a beautiful and meaningful event with 60 women and men in attendance. Sandra Strauss, kabbalistic educator and author was the invited speaker. She spoke about Kabbalistic interpretations of the Ten Commandments. It was a great success!
We’re still growing!
Recently I traveled to a synagogue looking to start a women’s group and met with 10 passionate women there. They expressed that their purpose is to study and develop cultural programs and interfaith dialogue for the community. The synagogue at large is very supportive of this project. While starting a group takes a lot of time and energy, it always impresses me to see the energy and commitment these volunteers put in.
New interest in WRJ doesn’t stop there. I have been communicating with another congregation lately that has a completely different story and profile. They have two very committed women in their congregation who studied and became banot mitzvah with us at the Kotel and are looking to build a more egalitarian consciousness in the community. Their goal is to create educational programs that will connect the congregation’s culture with their need for change.
Bringing groups together is a challenge and each one needs special attention and care. My focus has been on getting to know them, assisting them in any way my time and budget allows, and then working to help them with the WRJ affiliation process. I’ve learned that it is best to help the congregation and community engage first and then to show them the benefits of being part of the global Reform community.
One way rising leaders in the global Reform movement learn from and connect to each other is at the WRJ Wilkenfeld International Women’s Leadership Seminar. Reform and Progressive Jewish women come together from around the world to create a global network and develop skills they can take home to their own communities.
The next Wilkenfeld Seminar is coming up May 29-31, 2018 and will take place in Jerusalem. The deadline is this Friday, October 13, 2017. Jewish women outside of North America who are looking to hone their leadership skills should apply today! If you have any questions about the application or are unable to complete it by the deadline please contact WRJ Program Associate, Micaela Sheinhait by October 13th at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-650-4060.
Ruth Bohm is the WRJ-Latin America Liason.