Thanks to WRJ’s YES Fund, Avodah's Corps Members, who self-identify as Jews of Color (JOC), are given the opportunity to live in a JOC-only space for the duration of the program. This allows participants to enjoy deep learning and community building while maintaining a space to disconnect, process, and celebrate their experiences.
Just as the Israelites struggled with their post-slavery life after leaving Egypt, so do we find ourselves facing uncertainty as we navigate our post-pandemic freedom. Which parts of our Zoom world do we want to keep? Which parts do we want to cast away? What skills have we honed and which habits should we cast aside? Here are four things to consider as we gather together in person at the upcoming conventions in March, and at upcoming Sisterhood events.
This parashah tells us that the gifts that the Israelites brought to Moses were freewill offerings. This kind of giving does not come from guilt, coercion, or competition but from the heart. It is important for us to continue to make freewill offerings to help sustain our Jewish community. We bring the realm of the holy into our lives when we bring our voluntary gifts of money, time, and monetary resources. When we give of ourselves, we strengthen ourselves as Jews and exemplify our Jewish commitment to make the world a better place for everyone.
I think we all can remember where we were the day that Roe V. Wade was overturned. I was at home. I was living in Tennessee at the time, a state with trigger laws. I was flooded with articles and headlines that shook me to my core. The more I read, the more my heart raced. I became sick to my stomach. I remember rumors and questions about what this could mean legally for practitioners, pregnant people, and anyone seeking birth control. I thought about the fact that I hope to bear children one day and felt a direct threat to my life. Our lease was up in a few months, and we had already been considering what to do next. To me, this verdict was the deciding factor.
The word “mishpatim” means “laws” – a list of 53 laws, to be precise, mostly in the arena of civil law and damages. Coming immediately after the revelation at Sinai, Parashat Mishpatim digs into the details that move us from the high principles in the Ten Commandments to the nuts and bolts of an implementable system of governance with specific rights and obligations.
My brother and I were at Sinai
He kept a journal
of what he saw,
of what he heard,
of what it all meant to him.
I wish I had such a record
of what happened to me there
It seems like every time I want to write
I can't —
The RAC and WRJ are proud to sponsor NCJW's Repro Shabbat February 17th-18th (Parshah Mishpatim), when the Reform Jewish Movement will join with the wider Jewish community to recommit ourselves to reproductive health and rights.
The URJ Teen Leadership Collaborative (The Collab) took place at URJ’s Camp OSRUI - created and run by teen leaders to empower and teach other teens the art of community organizing. The weekend program served as the beginning of a new chapter in NFTY and for the whole Reform Youth Movement. This event could not have happened without the generous support of the WRJ YES Fund and its philanthropy.
Jewish teachings, portions of the Torah, and our own Jewish values have reinforced our duty to protect our planet, including those animals that inhabit it, the atmosphere, and the water. An oft-quoted Midrash reads, “Do not destroy My world, for if you do, there will be nobody after you to make it right again” (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13). This conveys a sense of urgency and importance that if we are derelict in this, we will destroy humankind as we know it for future generations. WRJ works with other organizations to fulfill this duty and has passed 11 resolutions between 1969 and 2011.
Our prophetess Miriam had the right idea! In fact, Song of the Sea is so essential to us that it is written in a special manner in the Torah in two columns, a reminder of the waters of the Reed Sea parting. And when we read or chant those words annually, it is tradition to stand and recall the miraculous traversing to safe shores...as if we were crossing ourselves. And we, you and I, surely know that Miriam gathered all the women with their drums and joyfully praised God, singing (thank you, Debbie Friedman, z’l), “We’ve just lived through a miracle…we’re going to dance tonight!” How many times has that music roused you?