That Still, Small, Heroic Voice

Blair C. Marks
January 13, 2023
Every year, I receive one or two calls from people who want to “run something by me.” They know that I spent many years as an ethics and compliance professional, and they want to get my opinion as to how to handle something they have observed or been asked about. It’s often a concern about a leader abusing the power of their position, generally involving relationships and behaviors between volunteers, congregants, clergy, or staff. Sometimes, it’s within a congregation, and sometimes it’s within one of our movement’s organizations. From my perspective, every person who makes one of these calls is a hero. They are upstanders, people who have listened or observed and recognized that something seems wrong, and they are not willing to just sit by and do nothing even when they are not personally involved.

Parashat Sh’mot

Rena Lubin
January 13, 2023
While we may not be able to get verbal reassurance from God like Moses did, we carry with us an inspiring and reassuring history of strong, capable Jewish women—of which we are also a part. Success may not come easily or be guaranteed, but by taking on more responsibility, accepting positions of leadership, and carrying on despite the challenges ahead, we will grow into ourselves, expand the knowledge and skills we already have, and learn from any potential failure. This year, let’s remember that we are up to the task; and not only are we up to it, but we are also incredibly capable of tackling the unknown.

WRJ’s UN Team Brings Our Collective Voice to Global Issues

Leslie Brier
January 6, 2023
The journey to self-improvement is reasonable and worthy. Yet, we cannot disconnect ourselves from our larger family–the human family. Each of us can contribute to the well-being of the human family if we make an individual goal of working together to overcome these injustices. WRJ provides a vehicle for Reform Jewish women to make a difference globally by allowing each of us to address injustices in our local community and more broadly, if we choose.

Parashat Vayechi

Rabbi Linda Henry Goodman
January 6, 2023
It is often said that we learn by example. We watch our elders – parents and grandparents, extended family members, teachers, public figures, and other exemplars in our lives–and try to emulate them. Sometimes though, when these exemplars engage in negative behavior, hopefully we will be astute enough to learn from them by negative example. We and those who come after us need not doom ourselves to repeating the mistakes and bad behavior of generations past. All of us have the power to improve–to do better. This is a core value and belief of Jewish life.

Parashat Vayigash

Susan C. Bass WRJ Immediate Past President
December 30, 2022
The meaning of Vayigash is "to draw near" and we are reminded that Joseph and his brothers reunite and thus are drawn near. The reunion is not without drama on all sides. As we come to this time of year, many of us draw near to familiar people or places. From Thanksgiving through the end of the calendar year, our time is filled with planning – whether for travel, food, gifts, or all of the above – our focus is squarely on connecting with others who are important to us.  Clearly, there is an opportunity for some type of drama. As we draw near to one another in this season or any time at all, it is important to consider why we are drawing near – what is the message we wish to communicate, either through words or simply our physical presence.

Why WRJ was so Instrumental for My Jewish Self

Debbi K. Levy
December 23, 2022
In my local Sisterhood, one of my volunteer roles was that of Spirituality Chair. This meant that once a year, on Sisterhood Sabbath, the liturgy, bimah participants, and musical offerings were created by Sisterhood with the guidance of our clergy. There was cutting and pasting of the Sabbath prayers to create the evening’s booklet and original, heartfelt prayers authored just for this occasion by our members. We sang as a Sisterhood choir, and many of us participated in both the traditional liturgy and special readings highlighting the chesed, the acts of kindness that Sisterhood put forth during the cycle of our year. Of all the roles I ever encountered as a Sisterhood volunteer, this one was carving out my future as a spiritual leader. 

Parashat Mikeitz

Phyllis Strasberg
December 23, 2022
What really stood out to me as I was reading the Contemporary Reflections in The Torah: A Women’s Commentary by Judy Schindler was her reminder of Joseph’s children’s Ephraim and Manasseh becoming part of our tables for generations – the Sabbath Prayer. “May you be like Ephraim and Manasseh.” It reminds me of the many Shabbats I spent hearing the Fiddler on the Roof version of the Sabbath Prayer at Henry S. Jacobs Camps. I remember how comforting it always is to hear, “May the Lord protect and defend you.” After hearing, “May you be like Ruth and like Esther,” I am instantly taken back to wearing white and sweating (it is hot in Utica, MS!).