Blog

Parashat Va-et'chanan

Julia Wackenheim, WRJ North American Board Executive Committee, Member At Large
August 12, 2022
What spoke to me most about these excerpts is the idea of bestowing all of our knowledge to future generations, even though we may not physically benefit from it during our time on earth. Spiritually, knowing that there's a chance "the kids are going to be alright" helps me stay centered in an unbalanced world. I hold fast to the idea that what I pass along or model for others will allow for a better world, a Promised Land, for generations to come—the future's children.

Parashat D'varim

Rachelle Weiss Crane
August 5, 2022
This week's Torah portion, D'varim, is the first parashah in the book of Deuteronomy. It begins with a series of speeches given by Moses to the Israelites. In Hebrew, the word d'varim is defined as 'words,' yet it means not just 'words' but also 'things' or 'matters.' D'varim can be weighty or significant. D'varim shows that words matter.

The Accidental (Repro) Advocate

Shoshana Dweck, VP of Advocacy, Temple Shaaray Tefila, Bedford Corners, NY
August 5, 2022
Looking back at the first couple of weeks after the decision came down in Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization, I think I processed our new reality by keeping busy. My focus was on providing education, action, and advocacy materials and support for WRJ and my synagogue community. From advocacy guides to webinars to a local "Postcarding and Planning" evening with friends, I kept the full pain of the decision at arm's length. But then I heard about the college students who successfully advocated for a Plan B vending machine installed at Boston University, and the idea is going viral. And then I thought about my children, and everything hit home.

Apply to Join the 2023 WRJ North American Board

Abby Gilbert
July 29, 2022
This double parashah is difficult because of the violence, the injustices that women endured, and God being cast as a vengeful god. Yet, in our time, we also face the issues of violence, injustice, and sometimes a war carried out in God’s name. Still, we can learn lessons of compromise and responsibility to the larger community in this parashah and apply them to our current environment.

Parashat Matot-Mas'ei

Leslie Brier
July 29, 2022
This double parashah is difficult because of the violence, the injustices that women endured, and God being cast as a vengeful god. Yet, in our time, we also face the issues of violence, injustice, and sometimes a war carried out in God’s name. Still, we can learn lessons of compromise and responsibility to the larger community in this parashah and apply them to our current environment.

From the RAC to Rabbinical School: A WRJ YES Fund Story

Ally Karpel
July 22, 2022
My relationship with WRJ began with a business card. It was June 2018, and the URJ Board of Trustees was convening in Austin, TX, for their annual Board meeting. As a recent graduate and former student leader at the University of Texas Hillel, I was asked to lead Shabbat morning services for the URJ Board before joining Board members for lunch and a discussion on how to best engage college students in the Reform Movement.

Parashat Pinchas

Michelle Rosen
July 22, 2022
As we read this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Pinchas, we are reminded that women have always needed to assert themselves to be treated equally. The five daughters in this parashah decided to stand up for their beliefs, challenge tradition, and suggest the creation of a more impartial law. It is extremely important to note that only a few women are named in the Torah, and each of these five sisters had a name. They are Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. We should also mention that in the Bible, these five daughters appear on three different occasions (Numbers 27 and 36 and Joshua 17). Each time they are together, it denotes not only their importance but likewise the importance of ‘sisterhood.’

Parashat Balak

Linda Ferguson
July 15, 2022
As I write this d'var Torah so soon after the shooting in Highland Park, IL., I am struck by the hate or the fear that brings this behavior. The fear of the unknown, of an individual or community that isn't like us. I am disturbed by the unwillingness to accept the stranger, yet we are a nation founded on strangers. I am scared that people have such difficulty acknowledging the differences among us and seeing them as strengths. I worry about the lack of help and compassion for those who emotionally can't find their ground. I am also in awe of God's might and ability to remind our Jewish community of his teachings.

Parashat Chukat

Judy Wexler
July 8, 2022
In Parashat Chukat, we read how the community begins to heal after the death of Miriam and Aaron. Our community will need to figure out ways to heal as well, after the pain and challenges of the past few years. My community is working through grief from this week’s July 4th mass shooting, at which we lost one of our synagogue members. The support from our sisters throughout the world has been heart-warming and provides hope—although we know that much must change. Miriam’s leadership helps us to understand how important and difficult change is. Just as she showed the Israelites the way, through her singing and dancing, so will we all move forward in the best ways we can.