Cher Krichmar: A WRJ Leadership Spotlight

April 29, 2022Cher Krichmar

How did you come to be a WRJ leader?

Like many women, I joined sisterhood when my kids were little, and we belonged to a small, conservative synagogue. Eight years later, the synagogue merged with a Reform congregation. While there, I held several positions and eventually became sisterhood president. One of my friends suggested I should join WRJ’s Pacific District Board. As soon as I joined, I was hooked. Intimidated but completely hooked. 

The women were so brilliant. Being a newbie, I felt like my head was spinning because everyone was so knowledgeable about all things WRJ. But I was a quick learner. I stayed on as Area Director, served on WRJ’s Pacific District Board for many years, and then on WRJ’s North American Board in the early 2000s. I love the camaraderie that exists between us, like-minded women. My dearest friends came from this experience. I could have never imagined any of this if I hadn’t taken that first step and said, “ok, I’ll try.” 

What has been one highlight during your presidency so far?

In October of 2020, when I was installed, there were strict rules from the county which stated that I could only have ten people present at the installation ceremony. On that day, just as the Rabbi was installing me and about to pass the Torah, he paused. I turned around and saw my predecessor, Dana Adler, there. She drove all the way from Arizona to be there for me! It took my breath away. I was in tears. We finished the service with Dana pinning the District President pin on me. 

What was also cool about this was I realized this isn't just about me. It was also about the district as a whole. I have been a part of the district for so long and have known many of the past District Presidents. My rabbi also took a picture of our Torah, and every past District President took a picture of themself with this picture of the Torah. So, I now have a collage of all the District Presidents handing down the Torah from President to President to me. That was super meaningful. I do not have either of my parents, so it made it special to know that I had the support of all of the women who have come before me. The photo collage is a daily reminder of the strong women who support me in everything I do. 

How has your district been affected by the pandemic?

The pandemic was the most interesting and challenging for all of the District Presidents. We are the first and hopefully the only District Presidents that had to have virtual conventions. We had planned our 2020 Pacific District Convention in Newport Beach. We hoped to bring everyone together, and then the co-chairs had to change the event from in-person to virtual with just six months' notice. Luckily, we have a lot of women who are well-versed in technology and able to learn about Zoom from the virtual Fried Women’s Conference. We knew the pandemic would last a while, but we didn't expect it to still be an issue. We had to cancel our annual District Board meeting to align with WRJ and URJ’s lead. Our women were disappointed, but they understood. They were understandably tired of Zoom and wanted to get out and be with their friends and give hugs, but that was impossible. It was difficult because every time we planned something, we had to cancel it. Overall, I think we did an amazing job with our programming despite the pandemic.  

What are you most proud of in your district? 

We are doing great things that our district has not done before. For example, we never used to have a scholarship committee beyond conventions. But I mentioned that people needed help getting to our events, and I wanted to find a way to make that happen. That is what WRJ is all about, giving back to our women and helping our sisterhoods. I did not want to penalize anyone for not being able to afford something. Before going virtual, we had five or six women opt-in from our scholarship program and attended our board meeting. We also book excellent speakers. There are many things we have done, and I am really proud of our District.

And when people ask me, “do you like being a District President?” I say, “I love being District President!” It is so amazing that I get to do this job. Am I disappointed that things are virtual? Yes, but my goal of becoming District President was reached. It was a long journey, and we all persevered. 

What do you love most about WRJ?

I love being with women who have similar values and ideas, strong volunteer-driven work ethics, and a willingness to work together and hear other people’s ideas. I have loved my work in the District and WRJ because this is where I found so many women who always encourage me to try new ideas. These women are so motivated and goal-oriented. It's really professional, and women get things done! 

What advice do you have for future WRJ leaders?

Be the change that you want to see. Do not give up on your ideas and values. Listen to the advice from your predecessors, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Be involved, truly enjoy the journey, and see the change through! 

 

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