As we approach Mother's Day, and perhaps reconnect in person for the first time in a year, we are reminded of the importance of generations coming together. And while we recognize it can be a day of reflection, memories, and joy, we know it can bring complex feelings, too. This spring, we wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate ALL of the women who make WRJ special. We asked some of our WRJ "sisters" to share how being a part of this community has shaped their formative years, continues to be an integral part of their lives, and how WRJ inspires them to think about the future.
We hope these stories in our campaign, L'dor V'dor: From Generation to Generation, demonstrate your impact. Your support enables WRJ to reach thousands of women, youth, and people through our signature leadership education and Jewish programming. Join us in honoring these women and their families as they pass down sacred Jewish values. Please donate to this ever-growing community with a gift today.
Growing up in Garland, Texas, a Bible-belt influenced suburb of Dallas, my brother and I were often the only Jewish students in the school. Each December, my mom would visit our classrooms to lead a lesson on Chanukah. My friends and I always looked forward to her Chanukah lessons; they enjoyed the surplus of chocolate gelt that accompanied her visits, and I eagerly awaited the sense of purpose I assumed as her helper as we taught my peers how to play the dreidel game and light the Chanukiah. During a time in which I faced insurmountable pressure to fit in, my mom’s annual Chanukah visits helped me feel special and proud of my heritage. Looking back, I know that her dedication to sharing our Jewish tradition with my peers was fundamental in my Jewish identity formation.
My relationship with my mom continues to grow through our shared commitment to repairing the world (tikkun olam). I will never forget the pride I experienced when I stood beside my mom at a rally in South Texas to protest the inhumane “zero tolerance” family separation policies instituted by the Department of Homeland Services in the summer of 2018, or the overwhelming joy and gratitude I felt when she flew to DC to watch me speak at the inaugural WRJ Social Justice Conference in May 2019 — a conference that inspired her to join WRJ at our home congregation, I should add. During the COVID-19 pandemic, my mom has continued to witness me “in action” in ways that were unimaginable pre-pandemic, thanks to an increase in WRJ’s online programming and Reform Movement speaking engagements.
From my days as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant representing the Reform Movement in coalition and on Capitol Hill, to the past two years organizing Reform Jewish communities around reproductive health and rights, being surrounded by so many empowering Jewish women has deepened my desire to spend the rest of my career serving the Jewish people as we seek to build a more just and compassionate world.
This Mother’s Day is bittersweet as it will be the last I will experience with my mom before I leave to begin my rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion this summer. Part of me knew I wanted to be a rabbi since I was 16; this calling intensified over the last several years working for WRJ and the RAC. As I embark on this next chapter of my life, I feel immensely grateful for how my mom has shaped my Jewish journey and the ways in which WRJ has helped bring us even closer.
Ally Karpel is the WRJ-RAC Reproductive Health & Rights Campaign Associate. In her role, Ally drives the Reform Movement’s reproductive rights advocacy strategy. Prior to her current role, Ally worked as the 2018-2019 WRJ Legislative Assistant, where she advocated for issues such as economic justice, labor rights, disability rights, reproductive rights, and gender-based violence on behalf of the Reform Movement.
Pam Karpel is a member of Temple Emanu-El of Dallas, where she is a leader within Sh’ma Emanu-El. Pam is a former Religious School teacher and currently teaches 3rd grade at a Jewish Day School in Dallas, Texas.