WRJ-Israel Mission - Connecting the World Day: Day One
Anyone who has traveled to Israel knows how exhausting the first day can be after an overnight flight with no sleep, fighting jet lag and struggling to stay awake through the inevitable full schedule from the moment of landing. So went today. The moment we landed, our friend, guide, chaperone and WRJ Israel maven, Resa Davids, shepherded us through visits with the leadership of the IMPJ (Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism), Beit Daniel (Tel Aviv’s premier Reform congregation) and the WRJ-Israel leaders of one of our newest progressive congregations in Even Yehuda, a growing ‘exurb’ of Tel Aviv. I almost wrote that these were ‘meetings’ but in fact, they were not. To me, the word ‘meetings’ implies sitting around a table, listening to a presentation, deliberations, and decisions. We did some of that, to be sure, but these opportunities for connections were so much more. We engaged in conversations. We shared our common challenges and struggles. We traded insights and secrets and best practices. We wrestled with big-picture issues like the future of Reform Judaism, the changing landscape of Jewish institutional life, the role of women in North American and Israeli society, the visions that we share and what we can learn from one another.
View from the WRJ Assembly
With so much attention devoted to the URJ Biennial convention in National Harbor, MD it is easy to overlook the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) Assembly taking place concurrently. As the incoming Executive Director for WRJ, this is not my first chance to work with our Movement’s sisterhoods, but it is my first opportunity to participate fully with them at this historic assembly.
Don't Let the Light Go Out
Where else but at a WRJ Assembly would you hear Waco-born, Baptist-bred Cecile Richards talk about the importance of 'tikkun olam' and being 'verklempt' upon her first visit to Israel with Jewish women? Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards, reminded participants at the WRJ Assembly of how important our continued activism is in an age when conservative elected officials would undermine decades of progress in women's health and reproductive rights to pursue a right-wing political agenda.
WRJ Assembly Kicks Off in Toronto
Women of Reform Judaism's 47th Assembly is well underway with committee and board meetings completed and our first round of workshops taking place this afternoon. This first workshop block shows the diversity of the interests and the issues that are important to the women who make up Women of Reform Judaism. There are walking tours of Kensington Market and Toronto, as well as an introduction to assembly itself; what a thrill it must be to be attending for the first time! WRJ is all about the bonds that women create and that is reflected in this workshop block. These bonds exist between each other ("Women Connecting with Other Women"), between themselves and the next generation ("The Special Bond of Sisterhood and Temple Youth") and between leadership ("For Sisterhood Presidents: A Conversation with Your Peers").