The Northeast District is one of the eight districts of Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), an affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). WRJ is the collective voice and presence of women in congregational life. Stronger together, we support the ideals and enhance the quality of Jewish living to ensure the future of progressive Judaism in North America, Israel, and around the world. READ MORE ABOUT "WHO WE ARE"
Facing a Blank Page: Getting Started on Writing a Memoir
What is a memoir? Why write one? Discover ways to make a memoir compelling. Learn pitfalls to avoid. Discover prompts to inspire you.
Join us for this special Northeast District event and get tips from Merrill Sussman, an award-winning author and editor who has used memoir as a starting point for historical novels. Sponsored by the WRJ Northeast District as part of "Celebrating Our Stories – The Journey Continues." Get the flyer.
There is no fee, but you must REGISTER BEFORE MAY 23.
Celebrating Our Stories – Our WRJ Northeast Journey
We take pride in our ability to live the life we imagined for ourselves, to fulfill the plans we may have first dreamt about as children. And while some of those dreams might have been dashed by disappointments, we can cite only a few instances in our collective history when nearly all of us have been confronted with one unexpected event challenging nearly all our plans. Whatever filled our glasses at midnight on December 31, 2019, splashed back on us a couple of months later. But it awakened us to a new reality, still bubbling with possibility.
I’m proud to serve as your president of Women of Reform Judaism–Northeast District in such times, but even more honored to be numbered among the women who have committed so much of themselves to the story we have been celebrating for over a hundred years.
Our resolve has been strong and is testament to our enduring mission. This is not the first pandemic to threaten us, and for a century WRJ has fought for women’s rights, the survival of the Jewish people, and against injustice throughout the world. We have given voice to those who could not tell their own story, and to those whose story becomes our story, as we amplify it a million times over, demanding to be heard.
Our reason for being goes beyond hosting membership dinners, running Judaica shops, and selling mahjong cards, as has been amply demonstrated over these many years. Those things and more give us pleasure, but the mission of Women of Reform Judaism gives us purpose. The events we’ve held this year, unlike all others, have clarified that for us and may very well impact our programming for years to come, even while we long to reconvene in a hotel, share Shabbat dinner with friends and sisters, and worship together in one room.
We are all, together, writing our narrative but it is only one chapter in a long and celebrated history. It takes place in all our sisterhoods and women’s groups, in each of our towns and cities in New England, New York, Eastern Canada, and extends to every place where there is work to be done and friends to be made. It is crafted by our Executive Committee, board members, sisterhood presidents, presenters, clergy, and all of you who choose to share your time and talents with us.
And it’s a good story, deserving to be celebrated, because all of us will contribute to it with pages we may not yet imagine, and chapters not yet dreamt. As is true of many engaging tales, our narrative has been filled with challenges and disappointments, especially over the past year, but we are steadfast in our mission. Our voices are stronger together and we are resolved to accomplish great things.
Did you miss the Northeast District Convention?
It's not too late to become a convention sponsor or donor. There are many ways to support our convention, from $5 for a leaf on our Tribute Tree to $540 for a convention sponsorship, with many levels in between. Your contribution can support the WRJ YES Fund (Youth, Education, and Special Projects) as well as the Northeast District Virtual Convention. Become a sponsor or donor.
As is our custom, we have chosen a social action project for our convention. In keeping with our convention theme, "Celebrating Our Stories," we plan to share the joy of storytelling by starting a children's library with the Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network, a not-for-profit, interfaith, culturally-competent organization that assists homeless families. Learn how you can help our social action project.
Kallah at Lakota Oaks was a huge success!
Although we woke up Saturday morning with no power, we enjoyed a very beautiful and reflective "Shabbat by flashlight” service with WRJ guest Sandy Adland, who led us in song on her guitar. Sandy’s workshops supporting our Kallah theme, "The Art of Listening – WRJ and You," were informative and relevant. Liz Gustafson of NARAL Pro Choice Connecticut led a discussion on positive ways to discuss reproductive rights with those of different viewpoints. Debbie Shriber and Kadie Black discussed the importance of the URJ camp experience and our generous WRJ support. Bonnie Heft led a very restful 45-minute Yoga Nidra session.
The YES Fund fundraiser was the most successful campaign of any Northeast District Kallah; generous donations included several new and increased Lifelines. The Pad Project, our social action activity, brought in an overwhelming number of menstrual pads, which we bagged for donation to incarcerated women unable to obtain them.
Everyone headed home with new ideas and renewed enthusiasm for achieving our ultimate WRJ goals of sisterhood, spirituality and social good.
The WRJ Social Justice Conference (May 18-19) and the RAC Consultation on Conscience (May 19-21) provided information on social justice issues as well as experience advocating for legislation supported by the Reform Movement.
In late October, over 100 women gathered in Framingham, Massachusetts, to attend the Sixth Northeast District Biennial Convention for four days of learning, praying, mourning, and celebrating together. We had seminars on a variety of topics – from how to run your sisterhood to how to run social advocacy programs to using social media to relaxing with Jewish meditation.
While we were devastated by the events in Pittsburgh that Saturday morning, we were glad that we were together to share our feelings and make plans for what to do next.
The services were moving and beautiful, and we were lucky to have with us Jane Taves, WRJ vice president for Advocacy, Marketing, and Communications; Rabbi Marla Feldman, executive director of WRJ; and Heather Lorgeree, WRJ manager of Programming and Affiliate Services – as well as our own Sara Charney, WRJ first vice president; and Abigail Fisher, WRJ vice president of Development and Special Projects. That's a lot of woman power!
We who attended were re-energized and renewed with the excitement of what we as women can do together. We returned to our local sisterhoods ready to try new programs and share all that we learned.
If you have not done so already, please take a look at the blog entries for the convention on the Northeast District's Facebook page. You can also check out our FACEBOOK PHOTO GALLERY of the amazing women that make up our Northeast District.
When I was 10 years old I was told that I was celebrating Shabbat incorrectly. I did not understand – my family lit candles, sang Kiddush, and said the motzi. We ate a meal together, often with my grandparents. My father and I went to Shabbat evening services, and we sat together as we prayed.
At the time, I was one of a few girls in my religious school class at a Conservative synagogue. On Sundays we would be asked, “Who went to Shabbat services?” and I would proudly raise my hand and earn a star on the class chart. Yet, one Sunday I was challenged by my male classmates who had not seen me in attendance. When I explained that I went every Friday night I was told that attending Shabbat services only counted if one went on a Saturday morning. I was taunted and told that my stars did not count. Needless to say, it didn’t take long before my parents granted me permission to leave religious school. I remember my father telling the rabbi that he would not let him or anyone else bully me into doing things their way.
After Jim and I were married, we decided to join Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, Massachusetts. The community attracted me for two main reasons –first, because the sisterhood welcomed me with open arms, and second, there seemed to be opportunities in the Reform community for women to take on leadership roles. I was exposed to the bigger picture of what could be through Women of Reform Judaism, or WRJ, and the rest, as they say, is history.
This weekend we have been celebrating ten years together as a district. Our theme, “Ten Years Together – Growing Our Community,” reflects the efforts by our women, who first envisioned, and then built, an effective and well-run district, driven by common goals and love for Women of Reform Judaism.
Since we have completed ten years together I decided it might be fun to explore the significance of the number ten. I first turned to examples from our Jewish traditions: CONTINUE READING –>
Read our newsletter... NEWS FROM THE NORTHEAST is sent via email to sisterhood presidents, individual WRJ members, Kevuda Society members, and the board of the Northeast District on the first Tuesday of each month. Ask your sisterhood president to forward it to you, so that you can keep up with all the news in the Northeast District. Or you can read it HERE.
Like us on Facebook... VISIT OUR FACEBOOK PAGE to see what's happening in the Northeast District.
Follow is on Twitter... @WRJNortheast to get up-to-the-minute information on happenings around the Northeast District and of interest to Jewish women.
We are on Instagram... Follow us and like us at instagram.org/wrjnortheast.
Join the conversation on Yammer... THE YAMMER WEBSITE allows WRJ sisterhood leaders and individual members to connect with one another, ask questions, and share strategies and programming. Once on Yammer, join the WRJ Northeast District group to collaborate with others in the district.
To request access to Yammer, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a sisterhood leader, please also include the name and location of your sisterhood as well as your own contact information.
Become a member of the Kevuda Society... Former members of the boards of District 1, District 3, and the Northeast District can stay in touch by joining the Kevuda Society. Get the details here.
Contact us by email... Write to us at email@example.com with your comments and questions, and tell us what is happening in your sisterhood or community. We would love to hear from you!
Last but not least, visit our website often... It provides helpful information about the district and its resources.