We wake every morning and pray, Modeh ani le-fa-necha, with gratitude and joy, thanking G-d for allowing us to open our eyes and embrace this new day. Traditionally, we are to find 100 things a day to recognize and be grateful. During this last year, I began a journal to help me recognize and thank G-d for special people, actions, places, and feelings that fill my soul and for which I am eternally grateful. Truthfully, I have never been able to identify 100 things to be grateful for in a day. But YOU, WRJ, our community, filled the pages in so many ways, including sisterhood, spirituality, and social justice.
A year ago, Blair Marks called me to say that among all the amazing women that belong to WRJ, I was chosen to be nominated as Vice President. I was both excited and terrified. How was I going to help continue the amazing tradition of removing barriers for Reform Jewish women and encourage each to thrive?
WRJ women, of course, provided the guidance I needed. Each officer told me about their experiences, goals, and hopes for WRJ. One example of this was Abigail Fisher, then Vice President of Philanthropy, who not only gave me her notes about past programs (don’t we love those!), but also invited me to upcoming meetings, and to join her in working with the philanthropy staff and volunteers. This generous act reinforced what I always knew about WRJ-we are a community and together we make sure that we succeed.
Together, our souls soar as we sing and pray during Shabbat as they did when we observed and celebrated annual holidays as a community. The resonance increases as we witness how our grants enable others to expand their knowledge and gather in prayer and ritual celebration.
Through WRJ’s YES Fund, we provided funds for the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism’s Bat Mitzvah Revolution program, which facilitated egalitarian Bat Mitzvahs for girls in 52 congregations throughout Israel. How incredible that we can have an impact in Israel for generations to come. https://wrj.org/blog/life-changing-bat-mitzvah
Throughout the year, our engagement team facilitates holiday programs, like the District President Havdalah or holiday cooking demonstrations, and supports our local chapters in doing the same. The reminder of Jewish values - gratitude, giving back, philanthropy is ingrained in all we do.
WRJ Social Justice
Advocacy has always been one of our priorities. The WRJ YES Fund pays for our exceptional Religious Action Center Legislative Assistant, who helps guide our advocacy efforts. This past year, with so many issues, Ally Karpel (RAC LA 2018-2021) valiantly tried to keep us focused. We acted on Labor Issues Affecting Women in the 21st Century, Reproductive Rights, Violence Against Women, and the Right to Vote, working at local, state, and federal levels to address specific legislation. Ally created an Advocacy Guide to help sisterhoods and women’s groups take action. This year, Lillie Heyman, our new RAC LA, shares ways to fight for reproductive rights.
WRJ expanded its platform this year to embrace Jewish organizations that promoted Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion and made some amazing new partners.
WITH YOUR SUPPORT, WRJ provides the foundation to help you thrive and connect with the Jewish community. Whether you are looking for partners and guidance for tikkun olam (helping repair the world) or finding spiritual resonance in your soul, or a special community of sisterhood, WRJ is here for you!
As we close out 2021, we hope you will consider making an end-of-year gift to WRJ. Think about all that we have accomplished together this year; the actions we have taken for social justice; the programs we created and attended; the inspiring services we have experienced; the songs we have sung; the friends we have made; and the sisterhoods and women’s groups that have benefited from WRJ’s support.
Now, think about what more we can achieve in the coming year. Our collective ability to flourish, make an impact, and continue to build and sustain this community is dependent on your providing the sustenance. Please consider a donation today.
Lillian Burkenheim Silver is the WRJ VP of Philanthropy and a member of Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village, CA.