I am so pleased that Women’s League has expanded its approach to membership to include all women who support our mission, whether they belong as a member of an affiliated sisterhood or if they choose to join us directly. No matter your portal of entry, we welcome you with open arms, even if those arms are “virtual.”
We know that hundreds of thousands of women around the world identify as Conservative or Masorti Jews. As I have traveled across North America and Israel and elsewhere, I have met so many women for whom our network is of vital importance. Now, every Conservative Jewish woman has the opportunity to be a link in that worldwide network. Even if you don’t have a sisterhood in your community we want you to find a home at Women’s League and to help us represent the women of our movement. Raised together, our voices can have a lasting impact.
What is it that we offer our members, in their homes, synagogues, communities?
We are committed to enhancing Jewish life and continuing Jewish learning at every stage and every age. To answer the needs of our members we are introducing two new initiatives. We are calling the first Mishpachah: The Modern Jewish Family, an attempt to in-reach to welcome everyone within our congregational families. Today’s notion of family has expanded far beyond the traditional mother, father and two-and-a-half children. The modern Jewish family is fluid and complex: mother/father/children; intermarried parents; single parent families/ divided custody families; joined families with stepparents and stepsiblings; extended families with grandparents living nearby, participating in childcare; biracial families; ethnically diverse adopted children; same-sex partners with children; same sex partners with children from previous marriages; single parents by choice (through in-vitro implantation or surrogacy); empty nesters or widows/widowers/divorced living alone.
Mishpachah will be looking at many facets of this fluidity including: the cultural diversity of Jews; adopted children; dealing with far flung families; the Jewish family in classical texts; coping with grief, loss and change; respect for differing levels of religious observance; creating new rituals for new family structures; hurtful language; why food is so central to family life; and the Noah syndrome or why everything shouldn’t be coupled. Each month you can download a new entry with projects, activities, recommended books, movies for discussion, and more.
Our second initiative, Wellness & Learning, is a forum for exploring the connection between physical and spiritual well-being. The topics will be complementary, and materials will be posted here each month in time for Rosh Chodesh.
The program evolved from the enthusiastic response to a workshop at Convention 2012 led by Dr. Barbara Levin, a women’s healthcare expert from Madisonville, Tennessee, and the early findings of a Stanford University survey on women’s health and spirituality. Preliminary findings show that the Women’s League members who participated had an increased awareness of their health and wellness and concerns about spiritual growth. Other groups in the study were women from Southern India, an American Pueblo tribe and Stanford University.
The value of both new programs is their focus on individual women and how Judaic resources can impact their personal religious growth, the health and happiness of their families (in whatever guise), and the expansion of how they define themselves as members of families, sisterhoods, synagogues, and communities. The materials can be utilized by any sisterhood for its own program focus, discussions, affinity groups, and Z’havah members.
You can download an array of study materials as well, from the Five Megillot to a Yom Yarok Environmental Tu B’Shevat Celebration, from the Women’s League Hiddur Mitzvah Project to Eytz Hayim Hi, a two-year adult study curriculum. You can create beautiful Judaic Arts projects for holidays, Shabbat, family and home using patterns designed by our talented craftspeople. Participate in our book club -- what we call Orpah’s List -- and read books of particular interest to Jewish women, and find suggested reading lists and author interviews in the BookMarks newsletters. Read CJ: Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism or go to www.cjvoices.org and be up-to-date with the worldwide Conservative/Masorti movement.
I look forward to meeting all of you, either here on the Women’s League website or at our next convention (July 17-20, 2014 at the Hanover Marriott, in Whippany, New Jersey), at your region events (check your region website), or at your sisterhood.
If you would like to join Women's League directly, please click here.