Mazel Tov to all of our district sisters who have been nominated to serve on the

2020-2023 WRJ Southwest Board of Directors

 President: Cheryl Barenberg, Temple Emanuel, Beaumont, TX
1st Vice President: Phyllis Gregory, Temple Israel, Memphis, TN
VP Development: Rachelle Weiss-Crane, Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, TX  
VP Social Justice: Lisa Franklin, Temple Emanuel, McAllen, TX
VP Marketing/Communications: Ann Weintraub, Temple Shalom, Dallas, TX
Treasurer: Margaret Gewirtzman, Congregation Beth Israel, Austin, TX 
Financial Secretary: Jane Shook, Adat Chaverim, Plano, TX 
Recording Secretary: Deborah Goetz, Temple Emanuel, McAllen, TX
Corresponding Secretary: Barbara Schwartz, Temple Emanuel, Denver, CO

Senior Area Directors:
        Rene Derewetsky, Congregation Beth Shalom, The Woodlands, TX​
Diane Pont, Congregation Beth Israel, Houston, TX

Area Directors:
  Waynette Besser, Temple Israel, Memphis, TN  
Courtney Clark, Congregation Beth Israel, Houston, TX
    Susan Hertz, Temple Sinai, Houston, TX
Diana Mann, Congregation Gates of Prayer, Metairie, LA
Carol Rhtmeyer,  Congregation Beth Israel, Corpus Christi, TX
    Jacquie Schwitzer, Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, TX  

Immediate Past President: Jennifer Daley, Congregation Gates of Prayer, Metairie, LA 



Virtual District Convention Edition


In this issue: 
  • Registration
  • Convention Highlights
  • Convention Schedule
  • Convention Sponsorship and Tribute Book Information
  • Southwest District Gives Back 
  • New District Shirts

Please forward this newsletter to members of your Sisterhood.
Check out our website:


Registration for
2020 WRJ Southwest Virtual District Convention is now OPEN!

Join us as we celebrate our connection as women of WRJ Southwest District at our 7th District Convention via Zoom!

Our Theme this Year: Saddle Up, Change Begins With Us refers to the important Jewish teaching of Tikkun Olam ~ repair the world.  Judaism believes that not only do individuals have the ability to initiate change, but they have an obligation to do so.
Southwest District gatherings always include dynamic speakers, prayerful Shabbat Services, educational and inspirational workshops and an assortment of projects, advocacy opportunities, WRJ business and entertainment, though virtual, this year will be no different. 

Make note that the weekend begins with a special add-on fundraiser, benefitting the WRJ YES Fund on Thursday, November 5th with a virtual evening of Jewish music stylings by the fabulous Julie Silver. You won’t want to miss this!

Our Virtual District Convention is free of charge. Now more than ever, Southwest District needs your financial support with the following:

  •  Virtual Concert - WRJ YES Fund fundraiser with singer Julie Silver
  •  Tribute Ads - Honor incoming/outgoing SW District Board
  •  Sponsorship Level options
  •  Support Our Sisterhoods (S.O.S.) Fund

All tribute ads and artwork are due by October 30, 2020 and
should be emailed to: Phyllis Strasberg at

Most of all, we want to see YOU there! If you have further questions, please feel free to contact:

Cheryl Barenberg,
Convention Chair, 1st Vice President,

Jennifer Daley,


Keynote Speakers, Special Guests and Spiritual Leadership

Author, MARRA B. GAD

Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl
Saturday, November 7th at 4:30pm
Marra B. Gad was adopted by a white Jewish family in Chicago. For her parents, it was love at first sight—but they quickly realized the world wasn’t entirely ready for a family like theirs. Marra’s biological mother was unwed, white, and Jewish, and her biological father was black. While still a child, Marra came to realize that, in her world, she was “a mixed-race, Jewish unicorn.” In black spaces, she was not “black enough.” In Jewish spaces, she was mistaken for the help, asked to leave, or worse. Even in her own extended family, racism bubbled to the surface. Marra’s family cut out those relatives who could not tolerate the color of her skin— including her beloved, glamorous, worldly Great-Aunt Nette. But after an estrangement of fifteen years, Marra discovers that Nette has Alzheimer’s, and that only she is in a position to get Nette back to the only family she has left. Marra watches as the disease erases her aunt’s racism, making space for a relationship that was never possible before. At turns heart-wrenching and heartwarming,

The Color of Love is a story about what you inherit from your family—and what you choose to do with that inheritance. With honesty, insight, and warmth, Marra B. Gad has written an inspirational, moving memoir proving that when all else is stripped away, love is where we return, and love is our greatest inheritance. Marra B. Gad was born in New York and raised in Chicago. She is an independent film and television producer and now calls Los Angeles home. Ms. Gad is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and holds a master’s degree in modern Jewish history from Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University.


WRJ Executive Director

Featured WRJ Guest

Rabbi Marla J. Feldman has been the Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism since January 2012. A Reform rabbi and lawyer, she was previously Director of Development of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism.

Rabbi Feldman is the author of several Reform Movement action manuals, including "Speak Truth to Power," "K’hilat Tzedek: Creating Communities of Justice," and "From Tzedek to Tzedakah: Social and Economic Issues of Concern for Women and Children." She served as co-guest editor of the CCAR Journal Reform Jewish Quarterly Fall 2018 symposium on pay equity and authored articles in the recent CCAR publications “Moral Resistance and Spiritual Authority” and “The Sacred Calling: Four Decades of Women in the Rabbinate.” Her articles and op-eds have appeared in Jewish publications and newspapers nationwide. Rabbi Feldman also writes modern Midrash, which have been published in numerous periodicals and collections.



Thursday, November 5th at 8:oopm

Join us for an intimate concert of Jewish music stylings by the fabulous Julie Silver while we raise money for the WRJ YES Fund. Cost is $108, with all proceeds going directly to the WRJ YES Fund. After registering, an individual private link to our Zoom fundraising concert will be emailed on Wednesday November 4, 2020.

Julie Silver is one of the most celebrated and beloved performers in the world of contemporary Jewish music today. She tours throughout the world, and has been engaging audiences with her gorgeous compositions and liturgical settings, her lyrical guitar playing, her dynamic stage presence, and her megawatt smile for over 25 years.




Religious Action Center - Texas


Friday, November 6th at 1:00pm

Immigration Justice During the Pandemic

Rabbi David Segal was born and raised in Houston, TX and has lived in Arlington, VA; Jerusalem, Israel; New York City; and Aspen, CO. He studied Classics and Judaic Studies at Princeton University (2003) and was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York in 2010. From 2010-2017, he was the rabbi of the Aspen Jewish Congregation, serving the Roaring Fork Valley of Western Colorado. His wife, Cantor Rollin Simmons, was the co-clergy.

Rabbi Segal is currently involved with teaching, writing, and doing interfaith social justice work. Since August of 2017, he has been the Texas Organizer with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, building a statewide organization of Reform synagogues in Texas (RAC-TX) and working with congregations across the state to make their justice work more strategic and rooted in their people's stories.



Spiritual and Service Leader

Shabbat services:
Friday, November 6th at 6:00pm


Rabbi Mathew D. Michaels currently serves as part-time spiritual leader of Temple Emanuel, Beaumont, TX. He also served as the Temple’s interim rabbi in 1999. Rabbi Michaels has served congregations in Brownsville, TX, Evansville, IN, Houston and Spring, TX, and Knoxville, TN. He also worked with college students as the Interim Executive Director of the Hillel Foundation for Greater Houston and Interim Rabbi at Texas A&M Hillel.

Throughout his career, Rabbi Michaels has been very active in the Jewish community. He is past president of the Southwest Association of Reform Rabbis (SWARR) and the Houston Rabbinic Association. He has served on the boards of several major Jewish organizations including: AJC, Jewish Family Service, JCC, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston.


Cantorial Soloist


Shabbat services:
Friday, November 6th at 6:00pm

Tory May was the Cantorial Soloist/Music Director at Congregation Gates of Prayer in Metairie, Louisiana for 32 years.  Her musical talents lift the congregation spiritually and she sings with an ability to inspire awe and invite participation.  She has worked professionally in the musical field since 1983.  This work has included teaching music to preschoolers at various area schools, as well as acting as Cantorial Soloist for synagogues in Shreveport, Asheville, and the New Orleans area.  She has two CDs out which she recorded with "Beignet Yisrael", a quartet that has performed Jewish music at Jazzfest in New Orleans, as well as concerts in other areas of the country.  Tory received her bachelor's degree in theater from the University of New Orleans in 1983.  She has two sons, Nick and Jonathan, and lives in Chicago with her husband, Jeff.





Consider supporting the fabulous work of our District and enhancing our convention by purchasing a tribute ad and becoming a  sponsor! 

During these uncertain times, WRJ Southwest District needs your financial support now more than ever. We have made this amazing District Convention free of charge in the hopes you will financially support us with a virtual tribute ad or convention sponsorship. Sponsors and ads will be shown preceding all zoom sessions (plenaries and workshops).

Now is the time to honor the women who have led the Southwest District for the last two years and those who are Southwest District's future. This is an opportunity to thank Jennifer Daley, our current President, for a wonderful two years and to welcome Cheryl Barenberg as our new President. You can also congratulate women who are coming on to the 2020-2023 Southwest District Board, your own sisterhood leaders or even brag about your sisterhood. The slate of 2020-2023 Southwest District Board, will be announced in August of 2020.

Tribute Ad
Full Page Ad $180
Half Page Ad $108
One Quarter Page Ad $ 72
Business Card Size (1/8th Page) Ad $ 36

Platinum Convention Sponsor $1000
Gold Convention Sponsor $500
Sliver Convention Sponsor $250
Bronze Convention Sponsor $100
Friend of the Southwest District: $36 (or your comfort level)


As we strive to continue our mission of social good while staying safe at home, please consider taking part in our two-part social action/advocacy this convention, supporting Hope's Door and the Religious Action Center's 2020 Civic Engagement Campaign. 


At the Southwest District Convention, we will be offering a workshop titled: Keeping Your Cowgirls Safe – Addressing Gender-Based Abuse. In conjunction with this session, our District's mitzvah project will be collecting items for Hope’s Door New Beginning Center of Dallas.

The mission of HOPE'S DOOR is to offer intervention and prevention services to individuals and families affected by intimate partner and family violence and to provide education programs that enhance the community’s capacity to respond. 

Hope’s Door provides emergency shelters that offer temporary housing to survivors and their children fleeing life-threatening situations. The shelters provide food, clothing and all the necessities of daily living along with case management, safety planning, counseling, legal support, and referrals to other community resources. 

Support our efforts to provide much needed supplies to help the survivors of domestic abuse. Click on the button below to be connected to the Amazon link 'Wish List' and to send supplies directly to Hope’s Door.

Hope's Door
860F Ave, Ste. 100
Plano, TX 75074


2020 Civic Engagement Campaign
Religious Action Center
Every Voice, Every Vote

Every Voice, Every Vote is the Reform Jewish Movement’s 2020 civic engagement campaign, a nonpartisan effort to strengthen our democracy by encouraging everyone to participate in the U.S. election and ensuring that Reform Jewish values are represented in the public square.

The Reform Movement has partnered with the Center for Common Ground’s Reclaim Our Vote Campaign to contact low-propensity voters of color to help them register, do voter education, and/or get out the vote work. 

Our WRJ Southwest District Sisters can support the RAC’s Civic Engagement Campaign by doing one or all of their campaign activities. Click HERE for more ways to get involved.

For our District Convention, we have decided to show support by taking part in The Reclaim Our Vote Postcard. These will need to be started now so that we can help with getting out the vote in November.

  • Request a Postcard kit to reach out to low-propensity voters: Each postcard kit contains instructions, a script, registrar contact information, voter addresses, and 30 postcards. (You will need to provide the stamps.)
Learn more about the RAC's 2020 Civic Engagement Campaign 

and how you can get involved HERE  

Update your WRJ Southwest District wardrobe with our latest Southwest District t-shirt offered in four different styles. Prices starting at $14. Click below to make your purchase. Orders will be accepted through Monday, October 5th. Purchases are shipped directly to your home. (plus shipping fee) 

Join your Southwest Sisters by wearing your new swag during the virtual kick-off to the Convention at our opening plenary and Julie Silver concert, Thursday,  November 5th!


Check out our latest Southwest District Schmooze - 2020 VIRTUAL CONVENTION ISSUE





Attention Sisterhood/Women's Group Presidents


Don't forget to fill out WRJ's Sisterhood Leadership Change form if you have new 2020-2021 leadership at your Sisterhood/Women's Group.

This way your new leadership can also receive WRJ news, events, tools and more! Click HERE to begin your update.


Check out possible WRJ and District Grants your Sisterhood can apply for:

Incubator Grants
The WRJ Incubator Grants initiative was launched in 2015 as a way to inspire and enable “outside the box” programs and provide new ideas for all WRJ sisterhoods

Applications are now open for the 2019-2020 Incubator Grants. WRJ is allocating Incubator Grants of $500-$2,500 to WRJ sisterhoods and women’s groups to fund unique and creative programs that promote one or more of the WRJ three S's: Sisterhood, Spirituality, and Social Good. WRJ is looking specifically for programs that encourage Tikkun Olam, promote Reform Jewish values, create caring communities, and/or cultivate spiritual or personal growth in its participants. sisterhoods must be in good standing with both WRJ and with their districts. For more information, please read the 2019-20 Incubator Grant FAQ's HERE.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2020, or until funds are depleted.
Applications for 2020-21 WRJ Incubator Grant HERE


Southwest District

Support Our Sisterhoods (SOS) Fund
The SOS Fund is available to help those who need financial support to attend any event or for sisterhood/women's group dues relief.
Request here


(NEW) First-time Attendee
District Event Scholarship Fund 

Southwest District's newest scholarship has just been established to help Sisterhoods send first-time attendees to a District event.
Request here

Planning a YES Fund event?
Click here to find helpful resources such as:
YES Fund Video
2018-19 YES FUnd Distribution Sheet
YES Fund Brochure
YES Fund Pledge Card
Yes Fund Toolkit

Yammer: Helpful Hints
Searching for a new, innovative program to support the YES Fund? Are you looking for examples of alternative leadership structures for your sisterhood? Do you have an ingenious new matzah ball recipe that you are dying to share? You can ask these questions, find solutions, and share your own insights through WRJ's networking platform: Yammer.
Yammer is a Microsoft-based social platform that allows members to post and share ideas and files with each other, creating connections and collaborations with our women around the world. WRJ women are in rich conversation on this platform every day. Getting involved can give you and your sisterhood fresh ideas and answers from others who share your challenges. It also provides an exciting way to celebrate your successes.
To build on this resource, click here for are some advanced-level tips to use our platform in the best way to benefit you
If you aren't already on Yammer, email to request that you and your sisters be invited to the WRJ Yammer network (including our Southwest District group).
* Be sure to include your name, sisterhood, and position (if any).


The Southwest District would love to showcase past and/or future programs presented or sponsored by your sisterhood. Please send a short summary with a photo or two to my email below.  Please consider adding me to your sisterhood or Temple email list and/or share with me your Facebook page so that I can look for interesting things to post each month. 

                                                      Yael Sasley                                                           
Vice President of Marketing and Communications