New York, NY - Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) announced that its executive director of ten years, Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, will retire on June 30, 2023. Feldman, who is both a Reform rabbi and lawyer, became the executive director of WRJ in 2012, following ten years of other leadership positions in the Reform Movement, including Director of Development for the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism.
According to Sara Charney, WRJ President:
“Rabbi Feldman’s retirement next summer will be a bittersweet moment for all of us at WRJ. During her tenure, she has challenged us to embrace new opportunities and move in new directions, even as she has upheld our historic mission to embrace the power of sisterhood, engage women fully in Jewish life, and lift up the voice of women to seek justice for all."
When Rabbi Feldman became our director, WRJ was planning for a year-long celebration of our centennial milestone, and she guided us through a series of events and programs that included a women’s conference at the site of our founding in Cincinnati, OH, an Academic Symposium in New York featuring numerous scholars, a historic mission to Israel and Berlin, and our Centennial Assembly in San Diego, during which WRJ received the Reform Movement’s coveted Eisendrath Award. Partnering with the American Jewish Archives, WRJ published Sisterhood: A Centennial History of Women of Reform Judaism, as well as several other publications, historical videos, and exhibits. And that was just the beginning of Rabbi Feldman’s time with WRJ!
In the succeeding years, Rabbi Feldman helped WRJ reimagine our mission statement and governance policies, adopt a new strategic plan, reshape and expand our staff complement, stabilize and strengthen our financial infrastructure, redesign our communications and branding, and deepen our relationships with our Reform Movement partners. During the pandemic, Marla seamlessly managed our shift to virtual programming and remote staffing. Rabbi Feldman’s devotion to social justice parallels WRJ’s historic commitment to engaging Reform women in the issues of the day, and her expertise in this area has helped us navigate the growing demands for women's advocacy in response to policy shifts in recent years.
In these past ten years, Rabbi Feldman has made a mark on every aspect of WRJ’s work. She has been an inspiring leader, a friend and colleague, and a mentor to many of us. In the months ahead, we will have several opportunities to celebrate her leadership. While we won’t be saying farewell for many months, I know Marla will be deeply missed.”
Prior to working with the Reform Movement, Feldman worked in the Jewish community relations field in Delaware and Detroit and served congregations in Sarasota and Orlando, Florida.
Feldman is the author of the upcoming book “Biblical Women Speak: Hearing Their Voices through New and Ancient Midrash” (JPS, anticipated 2023). She has published numerous articles about the role of women in Jewish life and social justice issues and served as guest editor of the CCAR Journal’s Spring/Summer 2021 symposium on Gender in Jewish Life and co-guest editor of the Fall 2018 symposium on Pay Equity.
Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) is a network of Jewish women working together to empower women and communities worldwide through the bonds of sisterhood, spirituality, and social justice. WRJ, founded in 1913, is the women’s affiliate of the Union of Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America. For more information about WRJ, please visit www.wrj.org