WRJ: A Catalyst of Innovation and Progress

June 24, 2022Sara B. Charney and Shoshana Dweck, VP of Advocacy, Temple Sinai, Stamford, CT

There is no sugar coating what is happening now in the United States regarding abortion rights and access, as well as in other areas of bodily integrity and rights. Even where rights are “safe,” in many cases, we are one or two election cycles away from the potential for harmful legislative changes – and that includes Canada, too.

When the draft Supreme Court opinion first came out, even though it was expected, it was a body blow. And now, the opinion is here – and we must recognize abortion rights and so many other hard-earned rights are at risk. Yes, we have more rights, access, and options than we did fifty years ago. Yes, we have incredible organizations that have been on the ground for years, from the National Network of Abortion Funds to Planned Parenthood and so many others. But it feels Sisyphean.

I hear regularly from people who are tired, scared, and overwhelmed. Some days I feel that way, too. On those days, I am grateful that I am a part of WRJ and that we have each other to lean on. On the days that I am busy doing something else or just need to step back for a moment, I have WRJ sisters on my right and my left, in front of me and behind me, taking up the slack and holding me up. Tomorrow, I will be by their side, holding them up and giving them a moment to grieve and breathe. And so, we move forward together in the incremental work of making change.

Our WRJ president, Sara Charney, offers her thoughts inspired by this moment in time. 

The Book of Ruth is of particular beauty to me and, I imagine, to many of us. Upon the death of Naomi’s husband and those of her two sons, she entreats her daughters-in-law to return to their people’s homes. Orpah unwillingly leaves, while Ruth doggedly remains. Ruth’s iconic words to her mother-in-law, Naomi, are stirring, passionate, and a clarion call to action:

“Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you. For wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.” - Book of Ruth, vv.16-17

What an inspiring message of loyalty, kindness, and friendship. This is true sisterhood at its core. In that brave, open-hearted moment, Naomi and Ruth create a community of two that soon expands as they return to Naomi’s home together.

So do we, as Reform Jewish women, build lasting communities through which we gain comfort and strength. When challenges arise, we have the resolve and the courage to support one another to create the change we want to see in our communities. Remember that WRJ has been a catalyst for innovation and progress for over one hundred years. Our matriarchs emboldened our members and friends to think big and to accomplish things no one else believed possible.

Let our hearts be open, as was Ruth’s. Let us take one another by the hand and work together to create a more just and compassionate world.

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