Parashat Shof’tim

Joanne B. Fried
September 2, 2022
There are many ways that, as an individual or as a group, we can advance social justice in one’s community and throughout the world. Examine your beliefs and habits. Educate yourself about social justice issues, discover local organizations, take positive action in your community, harness the power of social media, attend demonstrations and protests, volunteer, donate, get involved with politics through civic engagement, and make your voice heard on local radio and television, investigate what is happening at local colleges and universities, invest responsibly, support minority-owned business in your community and online, support artists, writers, and activists that speak out against injustices, be kind, understanding, and compassionate. 

Improving in the New Year

Blair C. Marks
September 2, 2022
Will you do the same things you did last year or will you add something new and different? “Keeping it fresh” leads to vitality, increased membership, a deeper volunteer pool, and well-attended programming. Even when we have a program every year, like a YES Fund event, we should find ways to introduce new dimensions. This could be a different venue, different theme, different program, or a different way to recognize an honoree. Take a road trip. Have a picnic. Host a traditional tea. Go to a football or hockey game. When I was in Girl Scouts, I learned the simple song sung in a round: “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver, and the other is gold.” I think the same principle can apply to everything we do: add new and innovative ideas while at the same time keeping the core of what has made us successful so far.

Find For Yourself A Teacher: The Power of Learning

Susan C. Bass WRJ Immediate Past President
August 26, 2022
Jews are known as the “people of the book.” Our teachings direct us to be lifelong learners. Each time we reach the end of Deuteronomy, we immediately begin again with Parashat Bereshit. Each time we study a verse, we bring our current selves into the conversation. The words of the Torah remain the same --- it is our own life experiences that may change how we understand or interpret those same words.

Parashat R’eih

Michelle Scheinkopf
August 26, 2022
The pandemic has offered us an opportunity “to see” (R’eih) more clearly what our blessings are. These past two and a half years have given us a moment to pause and consider what is truly important in our lives. ... My synagogue is the central meeting place where I get to practice and live my Judaism with my temple community. To belong and to be connected to something very powerful and to belong to others gives me great meaning and fulfillment. My central meeting place, my synagogue, is forever a blessing.

Parashat Eikev

Lori Motis
August 19, 2022
In the last several weeks, there has been a lot of attention on the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. This is understandable as this is an important issue concerning women's rights. However, there has not been as much attention paid to the Supreme Court decision of West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This ruling undermines the authority of the EPA under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution from power plants. The decision is a setback to reducing the carbon pollution that is affecting climate change and may spell a delay for U.S. climate action when time is of the essence.

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 Social Justice, 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. 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.