Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) is proud to announce the 2022 Women’s Empowerment Awards honorees. This award was established in 2019 to honor women who strengthen the voices of others, with a focus on empowering women and girls, and who promote progressive Jewish values. WRJ will celebrate and congratulate these people and nine other honorees at a virtual event on Friday, May 13, 2022, at 2 pm ET. This award was established in 2019 to honor women who strengthen the voices of others, with a focus on empowering women and girls, and who promote progressive Jewish values.
Women of Reform Judaism is proud to announce the following honorees for our 2022 Women’s Empowerment Awards.
Ellen Cohen is a member of Congregation Beth Israel in Houston, TX. From starting a self-help post-mastectomy group, Reach to Recovery of Canada, to expanding the services at the Houston Area Women’s Center, and helping pass major legislation in the Texas State House. Ellen’s work has been driven by her Jewish values around human dignity and tikkun olam.
Isabel “Liz” Dunst is a member of Temple Sinai of Washington D.C. where she served as the congregation’s president and was an honored recipient of their Sisterhood’s Woman of the Year award. She is a champion of social justice, encouraging action through her sisterhood and her work on URJ’s North American Board, the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, and other organizations. She inspires the next generation of leaders to step up with her while actively supporting initiatives that mean the most to her through her work with the Religious Action Center such as reproductive choice, health, and wage equity.
Marra Gad is an award-winning author, speaker, and independent writer/producer committed to social justice and advocacy work. She speaks internationally about her transracial adoption in 1970 and her experiences being biracial and Jewish through the lens of her debut memoir, The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl, winner of the 2020 Midwest Book Award for Autobiography/ Memoir.
Becky Markowitz is a former sisterhood president at Women of Shir Ami, Newtown, PA, a WRJ Atlantic District past president, and a former president of her congregation. She is also a past WRJ North American Board member and now serves as Co-Chair of WRJ’s Chai Society. Becky is an enthusiastic and dedicated leader who is willing to lead the charge.
Tani Prell is a member of Congregation Etz Chaim in Chicago, IL. She is the Chicago Director of 18 Doors, an organization that empowers people in interfaith relationships to engage in Jewish life. She is also an anti-racism educator and consultant. Tani has been a long-time leader in the Reform Movement as a 2018 Jew V’Nation fellow in the JOC Cohort and is currently a member of the North American Board of the Union for Reform Judaism. She also sat on the associate board of Urban Gateways which helps provide arts education resources and programming to schools in need – an issue for which she is passionate.
Eliana Rubin has been involved in the Reform Movement since 2018 as a Theater Arts mentor at URJ’s 6 Points Creative Arts Academy and a member of the JewV’Nation LGBTQ+ Fellowship Cohort. They also participated in the Klal Yisrael Fellowship and is now obtaining their master’s degree in educational leadership at HUC. Eliana is an open trans-advocate and ally in a variety of Jewish and LGBTQA+ spaces. Their presence both affirms other trans individuals and helps Reform communities be places of belonging for Jews from a wide range of marginalized and often unrepresented backgrounds.
Rachel Schulties is a member of Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, NJ. As the Chief Operating Officer at Marketsmith Inc., a woman-owned and led marketing agency, she has been committed to lifting the next generation of talent and ensuring that all voices are heard and have an equal opportunity for advancement. Rachel has tapped into her professional skills to educate within her local community and support the reform movement on a global level. In addition to her commitment to Judaism, she is particularly passionate about advocating for racial justice and has taken the opportunity to speak locally about her family's challenges as both an interfaith and mixed-race household.
Rabbi Susan Shankman has been a rabbi and community leader at Washington Hebrew Congregation for over 20 years. Rabbi Shankman has positively affected the Reform Movement from serving as a leader in her congregation and spearheading support groups to uplift the wider community. Beyond that, Rabbi Shankman has advocated for civil rights and co-hosts “Sister Act Podcast,” a weekly interfaith conversation between Jewish, Muslim, and Christian women.
Julia Weinstein is a member of Wilshire Boulevard Temple Sisterhood in Los Angeles, CA and has over 20 years of leadership experience in the Reform Movement. Throughout her service in sisterhood and WRJ on both the Pacific District and national levels, Julia continuously jumps at the chance to help others and brings out the leadership qualities in everyone around her. As an attorney, Julia’s focus on advocacy and education demonstrates her dedication to social justice and to WRJ.
Ronnie Cook Zuhlke is a member of Women of Temple Sinai in Pittsburgh, PA. After a career of working in the mine and steel industry, Ronnie is now dedicated to pursuing her social justice interests. Beyond regularly attending her sisterhood’s Tikkun Olam Center, she has been involved with the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, a local leader in J Street, and is involved in get-out-the-vote efforts, promoting racial equality, and standing against gun violence.
“WRJ is proud to honor these inspiring women who have put their Jewish values into action for the greater good. We are inspired by their stories of how they combine their strong leadership skills and passion for repairing the world - tikkun olam - to empower women and girls for generations to come,” said WRJ President, Sara Charney.
In addition to honoring these women at the event, WRJ will welcome Dana Bash, CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent, as its keynote speaker and special musical guest, Fourtelling. WRJ will also honor its Executive Director, Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, for 20 years of dedication, leadership, and advocacy within the Reform Movement.
For more information and to register, visit our event webpage.
# # #