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Shabbat Message

December 3, 2022 | 9th of Kislev, 5783
By Lori Snow, Women of the Wall Event Chair and WLCJ/ WOW Liaison
Sacred Feminism

Women’s League and the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) are jointly sponsoring a Women of the Wall (WOW) program on Tuesday, December 6 at 12:00 PM EST. This is our second joint program with WRJ sponsoring WOW.

As Women’s League’s liaison to Women of the Wall, I invite you to join us for this special event. Alieza Saltzberg, an educator at Rothberg International School at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, will be speaking with WOW about “Sacred Feminism,” which explores how Jewish women may have been deliberately left out of Halacha’s evolution. (Halacha is the body of legal works that provides guidance on all aspects of life and changes over time to address shifting realities, rooted in the Torah, Midrash, and Talmud.) Sacred Feminism grew out of the need and desire for women to participate in organized Judaism. Ms. Saltzberg developed this curriculum for WOW and will be presenting her work. Please see the flyer below to register.

Women of the Wall fights for all Jewish women to be heard. WLCJ supports these Western Wall liberators who help all women understand the strength and goals of determined Jewish women. With the changing political environment in Israel, we need to ensure the input of strong Jewish women is not lost.

As a reminder every Rosh Chodesh except those falling on Shabbat, WOW meets at the Western Wall to gather and pray. You can find their live Facebook feed at 12:00 AM EST – the evening before Rosh Chodesh in Israel. If you are not a night person, you can watch the video the next day. For more information and to show your support, please use the links below:

To sign up for their newsletter: https://www.womenofthewall.org.il/

To Donate: https://www.womenofthewall.org.il/donate/

To make a Purchase: https://www.womenofthewall.org.il/donate/shop/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/womenofthewall to watch Rosh Chodesh and to follow WOW       

WOW’s efforts directly affect Judaism and egalitarian progress in Israel as they fight for all Jewish women. We follow WOW’s efforts as they strive for women’s rights in Judaism and religious pluralism in Israel – areas of extreme importance to us in the Diaspora. WLCJ has championed WOW’s mission by purchasing WOW items, providing strong Rosh Chodesh support, and asking members for monetary assistance.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about Sacred Feminism and support WOW – who supports us every day in Israel.

My work with WOW falls under Illene Rubin, Chair of World Community Engagement. Be sure to register for the December 6 program!

Click here to REGISTER.

Shabbat Shalom,
Lori Snow
Women of the Wall Event Chair and WLCJ/ WOW Liaison
lvsnow@comcast.net


November 19, 2022 | 25th of Cheshvan, 5783
By Florence Wolpoff, WLCJ Board Member and United Nations WLCJ Representative
Update from a WLCJ Representative to the United Nations

On behalf of Lucy Becker, Sandy Koppell and me, Florence Wolpoff, your representatives to the United Nations, I take this opportunity to highlight some of the important activities that took place since our last meeting of the Board of Directors in June 2022.

Each year, as your representatives, we are invited to attend the opening sessions of the General Assembly. There we have the privilege of listening to the Heads of State of each of the member nations. 

On September 22, 2022, Yair Lapid, Prime Minister of Israel, addressed the General Assembly. He said, “An agreement with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution is the right thing for the Israeli security for their economy, and for the future of their children”. “Peace is not a compromise, it is the most courageous decision we can make”.

September 23, 2022, marked the third time I heard Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, address the General Assembly. Each year his message changes. He declared that Israel does not believe in peace and said, “We do not have an Israeli partner.” He claimed that Israel is exercising terrorism against the Palestinians. He said he wants to live in peace with Israel. In 2019, Abbas spoke of returning to Jerusalem and holding an election. But up to today, he says, Israel has not allowed them to have elections. He called Israel an Apartheid Nation. He wants permanent status at the United Nations. These are just a few of the statements he has made. What was most upsetting was the loud applause he received from the member nations when he finished addressing the assembly.

On December 10, 2021, the UN Watch reported that in its history, the General Assembly has passed 121 resolutions against Israel and only 45 for the rest of the world combined.

A UN Commission of Inquiry on Israel was created in May 2021 by the Human Rights Council. In October, 2022 the Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry presented a report citing Israel. The Chairman of the Commission claimed that the report was Law Based. Member nations were given an opportunity to respond to the report. Very few nations came to Israel’s defense. It was painful to listen as nation after nation condemned Israel.

Just before this meeting, the Ambassador representing Israel, Gilad Erdan, addressed the press outside the chamber. He said, “The Commission of Inquiry does not give Israel’s opinion. “The purpose of the Inquiry was to demonize Israel” The organization Stand With Us held an earlier rally in defense of Israel on 47th Street, just outside the UN Building.

On Friday November 11, 2022, the UN Commission of Inquiry approved a draft resolution calling on the International Court of Justice to issue its opinion on the legal consequences of allegedly denying the Palestinian people the right to self-determination. This draft was opposed by Israel who said that this would destroy any chance of peace with the Palestinians. 

The vote in the Special Political and Decolonization Committee of the General Assembly was 97 in favor and 17 against, 52 abstentions. The resolution will now go to the 193 member nations of the General Assembly some time in December.

The countries that voted with Israel in opposing the resolution were: Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Liberia, Lithuania, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauro, Palau and the United States. 

The United Kingdom and France were two of the nations that abstained. All Arab nations voted in favor of the resolution. Even Ukraine voted in favor of the resolution. The opinion by the International Court is non-binding. U N Ambassador Riyad Mansour, thanked the Assembly and then went on to say: “There will be a day when our people {Palestinians} will bring the flag over the churches of Jerusalem and to the Mosques of Jerusalem and Haram-al Sharif referring to the Muslim name for the Temple Mount.”

In September, Sandy Koppell arranged for a tour to explore the UN Gardens. The tour was a successful but only open to twenty participants.

Some good news to report: The President of the General Assembly is from Hungary. I believe he had been the Hungarian Ambassador to Israel. In his capacity as President, he advertised a position in his cabinet. Sarah Weiss Maud, the Chief Legal Advisor at the Israeli Mission, applied and was chosen. This is the first time that an Israeli has been recognized in such a way. Some of our Women’s League members met her when Lucy Becker arranged a meeting with the Israeli Mission before the pandemic.

Each year on January 27 Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated at the UN. This event is open to the public. As the information for this year is sent to me, I will share it with WLCJ. I believe it will also be on Zoom.

Shabbat Shalom,
Florence Wolpoff
WLCJ Board Member and United Nations WLCJ Representative
florence.wolpoff@verizon.net


October 29, 2022 | 4th of Cheshvan, 5783
By Grace Schessler, WLCJ Vice President and Program Chair
In Pursuit of Knowledge

We all come to Judaism from our own backgrounds and perspectives. During my term as BQLI Region President, I wrote a weekly letter for our Shabbat Greetings newsletter. To begin this process each week, I’d read the Torah parashah, along with many commentaries, while giving thoughtful consideration as to how its major themes related to my life or our ever-changing world. After three trips around the sun, I’d learned more Torah than I had in all my years of 3-day-a-week Hebrew School, and, as a bonus, I shared a great deal of personal information with my Women’s League Sisters which built a very special connection! Additionally, I discovered a level of personal introspection I didn’t know I possessed.

On Monday evening, November 7th at 7:00PM, Women’s League is honored to share a special program with our community featuring internationally renowned Israeli artist, Avner Moriah. Raised a secular Jew in the Abu Tor neighborhood of Jerusalem, Moriah served in the Yom Kippur War, sharing in a recent Jerusalem Post article that he felt, “The (Israeli) political leadership just threw us into battle and sacrificed our youth forever.” It was many years later, after Moriah had earned his Master’s of Fine Arts degree at Yale University, when he set off to New York where he channeled his feelings about the war into his artwork. His time in New York proved to be life changing as he began to engage in the city’s vibrant Jewish community and befriended synagogue patrons like Gershon Kekst, z”l, then chairman of the board of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Kekst commissioned Moriah to create panels on “The Gathering at Mount Sinai” for JTS, which he completed in 1999. This commission proved to be the impetus of the artist’s foray into illuminating Jewish texts and themes. Moriah spent many hours studying how biblical texts are interwoven into traditional Jewish rituals. As Moriah studied the texts he would visualize them in pictures. Though still decisively secular, Moriah is enthusiastically connected to his Jewish heritage and Israel.

Take a moment to reflect on what (or who) has inspired your journey through Judaism? Do you want to learn for the sake of knowledge? To feel more connected to other like-minded women? To cultivate a career path? Whatever the genesis of your journey might be, the pursuit of knowledge and the development of intellect is mightily motivating.

Register HERE to meet Avner Moriah, and to learn more about what motivates him as an artist.

To read the Jerusalem Post article about Avner Moriah click HERE.

To familiarize yourself with his work, you can go to: Avner Moriah’s Website. All WLCJ members will enjoy a generous discount (CODE: WL2022) on all art on this website!

Shabbat Shalom,
Grace Schessler
WLCJ Vice President and Program Chair
gschessler@wlcj.org


October 8, 2022 | 13th of Tishrei, 5783
By Rabbi Margie Cella, WLCJ Educator
MiDor L’Dor – From Generation to Generation

Each of us is a unique Jewish woman, whose identity was shaped and molded by the women who preceded us. Who were the women who passed their Jewish values down to you—Mother(s) Grandmother(s)? Aunts? Sisters? Friends? Teachers?

In addition, we, the Conservative/Masorti women of today are the beneficiaries of the many opportunities that have been opened for us through the struggles of generations of Jewish feminists who came before us—especially in the last one hundred years, since Judith Kaplan became the first woman to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah in 1922.

Together we commit ourselves to passing on our values to the next generations—our daughters and granddaughters, nieces, and students—and to continue to strive for increasing the number of roles and opportunities that will be available for them.

These are the topics that we will be exploring in this year’s Sichot beyn Achayot, Conversations Between Sisters, program, a series of three zoom workshops, made possible through a generous grant from Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael (KKL-JNF) and Masorti Olami and MERCAZ Olami. Each workshop will feature well-known speakers from both the United States and Israel engaged in conversations about our lives as Jewish women.

Please join us on Thursday, October 20, Sunday, November 20, and Sunday, December 11, at noon eastern, via zoom. Registration is now open through the links in the attached flyer; you may sign up for one, two, or all three workshops. I invite you to become a part of the global conversation.

REGISTER for ALL Three Workshops

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Margie Cella
WLCJ Educator
mcella@wlcj.org


September 24, 2022 | 28th of Elul, 5782
By Ellie Kremer, WLCJ Israel Chair
Zoom: Keeping us Connected through ongoing Israel online programs

Hurray for Zoom! Why? Zoom has helped us connect with our Masorti women in Israel and Zoom can help you too! Currently WLCJ has three ongoing Israel programs:

Women’s Days of Study — an opportunity to learn and dialog with some of the best teachers in Israel. Each day has multi approaches to a theme chosen by committee of Israeli women with input by the WLCJ Israel Chair. Part of the funding for these three days (two in the winter and one in June) is raised on GivingTuesday, on Tuesday, November 29, 2022. 

Mothers of Olim — Monthly Zoom calls connect WLCJ members who have child/ren, grandchild/ren, favorite nieces or nephews who have made Aliyah, for emotional support, travel information and navigating life from a distance are some of the issues discussed.

The KKL (Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael Grant program Sichot beyn Achayot: Conversations between Sisters – MiDor L’Dor is in its second year, sponsored by Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael (KKL). Plan now to attend any or all of the three free 1 ½ hour sessions: Thursday, October 20; Sunday, November 20, and Sunday, December 11, at noon eastern.

REGISTER for ALL Three Workshops

Thursday, 10.20.22 at 12-1:30 PM ET/7-8:30PM Israel Time
Workshop One – MiDor L’Dor: Transmitting Our Jewish Values to the Next Generation
How do we connect to the next generation to make Judaism relevant for today and tomorrow? We will explore the various settings of educating our children: formal, informal, and in the family and community.

Speakers:
Prof. Alice Shalvi, Founder of Women’s Rights Movement in Israel and Israel Prize recipient for her contribution to education 
Shira D. Epstein, Ed.D, dean, William Davidson Graduate School of Education, JTS
Rabbi Nathalie Lastreger, Kehilat HaMinyan HaMishpachti, Kfar Vradim, Upper Gallilee
Amy Skopp Cooper, director of the National Ramah Commission, US
Aliza Zeff, Director and Head of School, Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim

REGISTER for Workshop One

Sunday, 11.20.22 at 12-1:30 PM ET/7-8:30PM Israel Time
Workshop Two – MiDor L’Dor: Revering and Honoring the Generations Until 120
How do we maintain value and meaning in our lives at every age? We will discuss the importance of self-care, as well as ideas for caregivers, as we honor the generations that gave us our Jewish values.
Speakers: 
Prof. Alice Shalvi, Founder of Women’s Rights Movement in Israel and Israel Prize recipient for her contribution to education
Rabbi Judith Hauptman, Professor Emerita of Talmud and Rabbinic Culture, JTS
Rabbi Miriam Berkowitz, accredited Hospital Chaplain/Spiritual Caregiver, Jerusalem
Rabbi Tracee Rosen, Hospital Chaplain, Phoenix, Arizona
Rabbi Judith Edelman-Green, Pastoral Caregiver and Educator, Kfar Saba

REGISTER for Workshop Two

Sunday, 12.11.22 at 12-1:30 PM ET/7-8:30PM Israel Time
Workshop Three – MiDor L’Dor: Taking the 100-Year Journey from Bat Mitzvah to Egalitarianism
How did the first bat mitzvah lead to the expanded roles for Jewish women, both in the synagogue and the community? We will explore how things have changed in the last 100 years and ponder what the next 100 may bring.
Speakers: 
Prof. Alice Shalvi, Founder of Women’s Rights Movement in Israel and Israel Prize recipient for her contribution to education
Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz, JTS Chancellor and Irving Lehrman Research Professor of American Jewish History
Saralee Schrell-Fox, educator and chazzanit, Jerusalem
Rabba Dikla Druckman-Sherzer, Fuchsberg Center, Jerusalem

REGISTER for Workshop Three

Have you thought about having a region — twin Kehilah program as part of your spring region training conference? Several regions have: Florida Region, Garden State Region, North by NorthWest, Southern Region, and International North East Region. Zoom can also offer more intimate meetings — coffees, teas, tours, bingo games, or mitzvah projects.

All of these programs raise our understanding of each other — our common issues we all share as Jewish women and our differences — living 6,000 miles apart in different cultures.

On pages 112 and 113 of your new WLCJ Calendar Diary, you will find the Region/Israel Special Relationship Masorti Congregations. As individual contact people change, either Diane Friedgut, our WLCJ Israel Liaison, or I will be happy to help you find names of the contact person from each Kehila.

So, use Zoom to your advantage! And say Hurray to the new relationships we will form with our sisters!

With best wishes for a Shanah of health, joy and peace,
Ellie Kremer
WLCJ Israel Chair
ellieventnor@gmail.com


September 17, 2022 | 21st of Elul, 5782
By Vivian Leber, WLCJ Personal Conversations Chair and WLCJ Board Member
The “Before” Faces of the Holocaust’s Children: A film made with Respect and Love

My husband, Mark, and I never knew our grandparents—all were Holocaust victims. My late father-in-law was one of only seven Holocaust survivors among 5,000 Jews in his town in Poland. That drew us, over Labor Day weekend, to view a critically acclaimed documentary, Three Minutes: A Lengthening, in Manhattan, which has won an award from Yad Vashem for Cinematic Excellence in a Holocaust Documentary.

This remarkable film had its origins in a grandson’s search for a home movie that he knew his late grandfather, David Kurtz, had made in August, 1938. When Glenn Kurtz found it in his parents’ closet in Florida, the 16 mm reel was in a state of advanced decay. Recognizing its historic significance as a visual record of ordinary people soon to disappear in the maw of the Holocaust, Glenn donated it to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, which arranged to have it restored. He also tracked down clues from the film to research and write a book; through luck, he even found a survivor, a boy seen in the film, who helped to identify some of the townspeople.

The elder Kurtz had come to the US as a young child, prospered here, and returned on a grand tour of Europe. This included a visit to his birthplace, the small town of Nasielsk, in Poland. Using his new handheld movie camera, he recorded a silent film in color, which was intended, along with all footage from his tour, only for his private viewing. In the three-minute recording in Nasielsk, as the camera pans the buildings, some of the town’s 3000 Jews steal the scenes, mostly youngsters who tussle to be captured by the new-fangled gadget. We also see a big crowd spilling out from the town’s synagogue onto the street.

There are an infinite number of ways to retell the Holocaust and parse its meaning, and this film contributes a unique and moving record of that vast story. British Jewish film star Helen Bonham-Carter is the main narrator, interspersed with others, including Glenn. As the three minutes are closely dissected, we catch glimpses of the living spirit of those doomed souls. We learn of the Nazis’ invasion and tortuous capture of the town’s Jews, and their subsequent deportation, which occurs 16 months after they had stood, smiling, before the camera. Only 100 of the town’s Jews are known to have survived. My husband and I never grow tired of fresh new takes on personal Holocaust stories. We’re missing so many details of our own family story that this visual evidence through film feels to us as an homage to our own lost relatives.

I’m grateful that, through my role as Chair of WLCJ’s Personal Conversations, I was introduced in June to WLCJ Southern Region Treasurer, Marsha Raimi (West End Synagogue Sisterhood, Nashville, TN). Marsha told me about the film and explained her personal connections to it.

“In preparation for our 2018 trip to Poland with our husbands, my sister suggested that I read Glenn’s 2014 book “Three Minutes in Poland,” because our father was mentioned in it as having come from Nasielsk. This was a revelation to me. Dad was an Auschwitz survivor who spoke of it often and recorded testimony for the USC Shoah Foundation and Yad Vashem, but he only ever talked about his town of Mlawa. I realized that his father (my grandfather) was born in Nasielsk and moved to Mlawa when he married. My grandmother’s last name was the same as the people in Nasielsk who owned the button factory described in the film. As in the movie, the details of my ancestors’ lives came to life for me, and I had to know more. I joined Glenn’s Facebook page for the descendants of Nasielsk’s Jews, and I began doing genealogical research. When the film premiered at Sundance, I watched it online. So when Glenn arranged two days of events related to the film’s premier this May in Poland, I felt compelled to return. Now, Holocaust remembrance, reconciliation with our former Polish neighbors, and prevention of future genocides is my mission.” To hear more of Marsha’s story, go to this podcast by her local Jewish newspaper: https://www.jewishobservernashville.org/our-podcast/conversation-with-marsha-raimi-journey-into-the-past

The documentary was written and directed by Bianca Stigter, who points out the power of the film medium to memorialize ordinary people—lost, not only to time, but in this case, also to horrific violence. Reviewers have given the film their highest ratings. Runtime is 72 minutes. Go to https://superltd.com/films/three-minutes-a-lengthening for the official trailer, reviews and current theatrical screenings. It is expected to be on several digital platforms beginning September 20th.

Shabbat Shalom,
Vivian Leber
WLCJ Personal Conversations Chair and WLCJ Board Member
vleber@wlcj.org


September 10, 2022 | 14th of Elul, 5782
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, WLCJ Executive Director
125th Anniversary of the First Zionist Congress – An Experience of a Lifetime

It is difficult to put into just a few words the incredible experience I had recently when I had the honor and privilege to represent Women’s League for Conservative Judaism as part of the Mercaz delegation to the 125th Anniversary of the First Zionist Congress. We began this magical celebration with a Shabbaton in Zurich, Switzerland and then journeyed to Basel, Switzerland for the World Zionist Organization 125th Anniversary events. Over the course of Shabbat, I was able to reacquaint myself with long time friends, and also new friends, who gathered from the four corners of the earth – to comprise the Mercaz Delegation. Our delegation consisted of representatives of the Mercaz Olami and Masorti Olami community,  from places such as France, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Spain, Israel, Hungary, USA and Canada. We took a Friday afternoon guided tour of Zurich, prayed together, learned together, ate, sang and conversed. I learned that we are alive and strong as a Global Masorti / Conservative community, and have much to be proud of. I was privileged to lead Maariv at the end of Shabbat, and was filled with emotion, as the entire Jewish Community that evening began the twice daily custom of reciting Psalm 27, from the beginning of Rosh Chodesh Elul unil Hoshanah Rabbah. It was a sense of irony and pride, as I led our Mercaz delegation in Maariv, wearing my new Torah Fund pin, Hazak, reciting the words of Psalm 27, which include our Torah Fund theme this year – “Chazak v’Yametz lebechah v’kaveh el Adonai” Be Strong, Take Courage, and Hope in Adonai.” It was a true honor to represent Women’s League for Conservative Judaism at this powerful Shabbaton, with the leaders of the Conservative / Masorti Movement. WLCJ has a seat at the table, and we have earned respect from all parts of the Masorti movement, worldwide. Meeting all these Masorti representatives truly will help us continue the initiative that Illene Rubin leads, as our WLCJ Chair of World Community Engagement, now that I have made friends with leadership in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Hungary, Spain, and Israel, who have learned about our WLCJ mission.

Our Mercaz delegation arrived in Basel, Switzerland on Sunday, August 28, on our own reserved train car, after a spiritual ride which included the sounding of the Shofar. While enjoying lunch in the Messe Conference Center in Basel, a woman working for the Conference production team came over to me and asked me if I was a rabbi, and when I said yes, she said she loved me, and was so proud of me  – one of the many memorable interactions I had with people over the course of my time in Switzerland.

There were two tracks at the conference: The Herzl Social Impact Entrepreneurship Summit and the Herzl Leadership Conference. The sessions were inspirational and meaningful, and our entire Mercaz / Masorti delegation kvelled when we had our own people presenting in plenary sessions – such as Rabbis Elliot Cosgrove, David Wolpe, and Tamar Elad-Appelbaum, Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz, Sarah Lipsey Brockman, and opening remarks from our very own Dr. Yizhar Hess, Vice Chairman of the World Zionist Organizaton.  Some of the most impactful speakers were people like Miriam Peretz, Israel Prize Winner for Lifetime Achievement for “Strengthening the Jewish-Israeli Spirit,” whose two sons both died while serving in the Israel Defense Force (IDF), who spoke on “The Heroism of Life”; Yossi Cohen, Former Director of The Mossad and Head of SoftBank Investment Advisers, Israel, who spoke on “Israel’s Vision and National Security”; Brooke Goldstein, Founder and Executive Director, The Lawfare Project & Founder, #EndJewHatred, and Joanna Landau, Founder and CEO of Vibe Israel, who both were on a plenary discussing “The Everyday Battle – Fighting the Disinformation.” Every session was informative and gave much food for thought. My head is still spinning from all I learned during such sessions as, “Hertz’s Two Ideas: One that changed the past and the other that will change the future”; “Israel 2048 – Herzl’s Vision in the 21st century”; “Unity and Solidarity within the Jewish People”; “The complex business of living the Zionist dream”; “A 21st Century Zionism for a 21st Century people”; “Combating Antisemitism and fostering Jewish life in Europe and Worldwide – The implementation of the EU Strategy”; “The New Jews – The Mosaic of identities in the USA”; “Z3 – Zionism in the Next Era.” 

Monday night was the Gala Event of the 125th Anniversary of the First Zionist Congress at Stadtcasino Basel, the location where Theodore Herzl held the very first Zionist Congress, where people both 125 years ago, and in 2022, were instructed to dress in their best – some even in tuxedos and white bow ties, and even some top hats. Descendants of the very first Zionist Congress Delegates spoke and President Isaac Herzog addressed all gathered. The previous day the Conference production company created a video of the participants – and I was excited to even have a cameo in that – with my new friends, while we sang and waved our flags of Israel.

Tuesday, we wrapped up our magical days in Basel, once again being addressed by President Herzog and posing for pictures on the very same hotel balcony at the Les Trois Rois Hotel in Basel,  where Herzl took his famous picture looking out onto the Rhine River, dreaming of the creation of the State of Israel. 

The days in Basel were thought provoking and left me with even more to ponder. But that is for another Shabbat message… stay tuned!  However, a truly important take away that I will conclude this Shabbat message with, is that all of our membership in Mercaz USA/Canada, the Zionist organization of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement is extremely important because that is how we can continue Herzl’s dream. Mercaz represents Masorti Judaism within the World Zionist Organization and Congress, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Zionist Movement, and the Jewish National Fund. Mercaz is the force that advocates for funding of pluralistic streams of Judaism in Israel through the World Zionist Congress, which is crucial to our movement’s growth in Israel and around the globe. We must continue Herzl’s dream by supporting the State of Israel, by belonging to our organization that gives the Conservative / Masorti Movement a voice in Israel today. Become a member of Mercaz (https://www.mercazusa.org/support-us/membership/ or in Canada https://mercaz.ca/join-mercaz/)  and make sure that when it is time to vote for the World Zionist Congress in 2025, we vote for Mercaz. Am Yisrael Chai ! 

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields
WLCJ Executive Director
ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org

 

 

 


August 20, 2022 | 23rd of Av, 5782
By Pam Hudson, Individual Member MetroNorth
Finding Makom B’Yachad

I am a Jew by Choice. These days, one could say that all of us are Jews by Choice because of the effort it takes to maintain a Jewish identity in this society, but I am one of those Jews who formally converted. 

I grew up Roman Catholic. I attended Catholic grade school in the 1960’s. In my neighborhood, when strangers met, as a way of introduction they would ask each  other what parish they belonged to. Where I lived, Protestants were The Other; Jews weren’t even on the radar screen. 

So, it came as a shock to my family when, many years later, I told them I was  converting to Judaism. But the truth was that this process had been happening for just as many years. Even though I had no exposure to Judaism growing up, my Jewish soul was giving me signals, little flashes of light that, when I connected the  dots, led to the path I knew my soul needed to take.The books I was drawn to, the music that moved me, came from a tradition that valued the human being as  a pure yet complex soul, not a person who was born bad. Judaism creates a community that does not claim to have all the answers to the most troubling  questions of life, but it compels us to struggle together with those questions in an  attempt to get closer to the Divine. Instead of restricting worship to a hierarchy of clergy, Judaism expects that each of us be literate and active in our worship services. I love that! 

I came to Makom B’Yachad as an individual member because this group combines strong Jewish literacy with spirituality and a commitment to social justice, while giving me a circle of support. During each Makom B’Yachad session, the recitation of Misheberach, Kaddish, and the Daily Psalm grounds us in our rich tradition. In addition, the weekly lessons give each of us an opportunity to teach and learn from each other. 

I have found my home in Judaism, and I have found a warm and supportive community in Makom B’Yachad. I think you will too. It’s a community you can join from anywhere! 

Many thanks to my friend Debbie Lempert for introducing me to this group!

Pam Hudson


July 30, 2022 | 2nd of Av, 5782
By Mindy Steinholz, Health and Wellness Chair
Health and Wellness: Suicide Prevention

It has been said that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But help is out there for people who are suffering. People who are in crisis need to know that there are ways of reaching out.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2020, over 45,000 Americans died by suicide and there were an estimated 1.20 million suicide attempts. According to the Canadian government, an average of more than 10 Canadians die by suicide each day. According to the University of Haifa, the number of suicide attempts in Israel increased linearly between 2013 – 2020 but actually decreased during the Coronavirus lockdowns.

On July 16, 2022, the United States debuted the three-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 988. This was the result of the work of many advocacy groups including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This number is a direct connection for anyone in need of support for mental health distress, which includes thoughts of suicide, substance abuse crisis, and emotional distress. This is a free service, available to anyone. There are interpretation services available in over 150 languages; Spanish speakers can access that language by pressing 2 and veterans can access specialized services by pressing 1. The original lifeline number, 800-273-8255, is still available. Using this service will also help by going directly to mental health support services as opposed to calling 911, which is not set up for such services.

Canada has a suicide prevention number, 1-833-456-4566 which is available 24/7/365. The text line in Canada is 45645 available from 4 PM to 12 MN Eastern Time. In Israel, the suicide hotline is *3201 (dial 1 for English).

Wishing all a happy, healthy, safe summer,
Mindy Steinholz
Health and Wellness Chair
msteinholz@wlcj.org


May 14, 2022 | 13th of Iyar, 5782
By Jeanette M. Brownstein, Florida Region President
Together Again… but in Good Health

Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” Man/Woman Plans and God Laughs. We have all certainly learned over the past two-plus years that life is unpredictable, but we women have overcome these bumps in the road and have repeatedly refocused and moved on with new and creative ideas and programs.

The Florida Region had planned a hybrid (in-person and virtual options) Shabbaton/Retreat for the first weekend in May.

Unfortunately, due to COVID exposure to some of the volunteers who were directly involved with the implementation of the weekend, plans were abruptly changed early on Erev Shabbat, and we pivoted to a full virtual event for Sunday only and canceled the Shabbaton. A difficult decision was made in consultation with the host synagogue leadership, Florida Region WLCJ leadership, the weekend’s leadership, and the WLCJ Executive Director, International President, and Medical Chair.

We certainly tried to create a safe in-person/virtual event where we could be “Together Again”. Food was bought, the chicken was defrosting, centerpieces were made, welcome bags were ready to be delivered to the hotel, name tags were made, special added touches made by the host affiliate members were completed, tables and tablecloths for our outdoor meals were ready to be put in place, complicated electronics were prepared for this hybrid event, prayer books for the Rosh Chodesh celebration were ready as were copies of the Megillah Ruth which we were to study, individual spice bags were made for Havdalah, sticks were collected for our marshmallow toasting at our planned kumzits, mitzvah project donations for a local women’s shelter were ready to be brought from around the state and so on and so on.

To say we were sad and disappointed is an understatement. But in a few hours’ time, our village of Sisters worked B’Yachad and pivoted to a one-day-only virtual event. Phone calls were made and emails were sent to eager volunteers who were to prepare the weekend’s meals, e-mails and phone calls were made to those about to travel from around the state, hotel reservations were canceled, emails were sent to all registered participants about the change in plans with new details for the now one-day Zoom event, food was repurposed, returned and donated, centerpieces were put away for future events, many, many supplies were put back into their storage places and arrangements were made to collect and ship the mitzvah project donations from around the state. Each session had to be rethought to accommodate everyone on Zoom and new PowerPoint presentations had to be created for the now totally virtual event.

Money will be refunded, and the details above may become a distant memory, our disappointment will wane, but what we won’t forget is how our Sisters from around the Region worked together in a very short period of time to turn one of those “unpredictable life events” into a wonderful, memorable, positive day that we in the Fabulous Florida Region can be proud of.

What did we learn from all of this? Preserving a life takes precedent over everything. Pikuach Nefesh, one of our most important Jewish principles, teaches us that safeguarding the health of individuals takes priority over everything. And, of course, that our sisters of Women’s League can rise to any occasion on a moment’s notice. But most importantly we are all safe, healthy, and had the opportunity to spend an incredibly uplifting, educational day Together/B’Yachad on Zoom. All involved were inspired by the special day that came out of this experience, and we will look forward to the future when we can try again to be together in person.

Yes, it was disappointing and yes, it was an overwhelming amount of preparation that we did not get to see come to fruition. And YES, we were still able to be B’Yachad for one day of the full weekend that had been planned, but most importantly we are all healthy and are able to celebrate another Shabbat with our family, friends, and loved ones.

Shabbat Shalom!

Jeanette M. Brownstein
Florida Region President
flpresident21@wlcj.org


May 7, 2022 | 6th of Iyar, 5782

By Debbi Kaner Goldich, International President

Mother’s Day

Hallmark recently reported that Mother’s Day is the holiday when more cards are sold than any other. It is the most commercially successful, even more than Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Mother’s Day is not a public holiday in USA or Canada yet it is honored as a legal National one. Since last week, everyone has been wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day if I will not see them or speak to them until after May 8. 

This Mother’s Day will be somewhat difficult for me. My beloved mother in law passed away four weeks ago and my own mother passed away almost four years ago leaving me without a mother to celebrate for the first time in my life. My mother and mother in law held a special friendship. As a working mother I often depended on the fact that they would speak to each other and I would not have to connect with both of them to tell the same story. They bonded over the love of children and grandchildren. Their values were similar and they shared varied interests. They looked forward to celebrating Mother’s Day together every year with my extended family of siblings and nieces and nephews. To say I was lucky is an understatement!

I recognize and appreciate that I know women who have not had a mother for more than four years or not have a mother in law for more than one month. I also recognize and appreciate that there are many women who are not mothers because they have lost a child through death, abortion, miscarriage or estrangement. And, I recognize and appreciate that some women are not grandmothers or mothers in law, though they desperately wish for that.

How do we, as a women’s organization, express care and show sensitivity to those around us not celebrating as joyfully or not at all with those who are? Many of you reached out to me after I lost my mother in law to tell me stories of yours. Some stories were of genuine love and others asked me about my wonderful relationship with mine. Many of you sent emails and Torah Fund Cards and made donations to WLCJ. Reaching out through phone calls, emails and donations are what we do best at Sisterhood and Women’s League. We support our sisters with love and care at all times. I loved hearing from all of you. I loved your stories and your memories. I loved knowing you cared about me and that you cared about my family. I loved that you attended the service on Zoom and told me how special my sons are and how eloquently they spoke about their grandmother. I loved that 74 of you showed up on Zoom shiva and greeted my husband with introductions of how we know each other. (After all these years he knew many of you by sight or by name.) I cannot thank you enough for the love and support you showed the Goldich family at this time. 

To those of you who celebrate, I wish you a meaningful and happy day with your families. To those of you who do not, for whatever reason, my thoughts are with you. You may not be a mother, mother in law or a grandmother, but you are special to your Women’s League sisters and to me. Thank you for all you do to make us the organization we are.

Shabbat shalom,

Debbi

Debbi Kaner Goldich

WLCJ International President

dgoldich@wlcj.org


April 2, 2022 | 1st of Nisan, 5782

By Edna Schrank, Convention Chair

Sisters Celebrating Together!

That is the theme of our WLCJ International Convention 2023, beautifully communicated in the Convention logo below. Personally, I cannot wait to get together with my WLCJ sisters in person! Though you likely don’t have a paper calendar for 2023 yet, mark your digital calendars for Sunday, July 16 through Wednesday, July 19, 2023; destination, Schaumburg, IL!!!! A very short cab ride from O’Hare International Airport.

We feel our Convention logo (designed by our very own Karen Ballena) perfectly sets the mood for our festivities. During Shacharit on Monday morning of Convention, we will be celebrating the B’not Mitzvah of 40 WL sisters. This very special occasion, truly the first of its kind, will be the culmination of their three years of study and we plan to make it a very joyous event.

Our programs throughout Convention will provide you the opportunity to embrace our programming theme, Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Ba’Zeh: We Are All Connected. We look forward to connecting with our sisters in global communities around the world.

Convention will be the perfect opportunity to literally embrace (as in hug in-person) the women you have become so connected to over Zoom during the pandemic. Personally, I can’t wait to actually be in the same room with my Makom B’Yachad friends, with whom I kibbitz and learn several times a week. I know others feel similarly about the women they see weekly in their Bat Mitzvah and/or Hebrew class.

We have many things to celebrate during Convention: the conclusion of the 80th Anniversary of Torah Fund our 2018-2021 Region Presidents, International Board, and International Past President, Margie Miller our 2020-2023 Region Presidents, International Board, and current International President, Debbi Kaner Goldich and Installation of our 2023-2026 International Board and President
This Convention will also be our first multi-access Convention, welcoming delegates in-person and virtually. To do this successfully, we need your help. Shortly after Pesach you will be receiving a brief survey asking about how you anticipate participating in Convention. Please take a few minutes to complete it. We want to make this Convention the best ever!

Shabbat Shalom,

Edna Schrank, Convention Chair, and on behalf my wonderful team, Anise Parnes, Vice Chair of Logistics and Rachel Ferber and Dana Sirkin, Vice Chairs of Programs

Edna Schrank

Convention Chair

eschrank@wlcj.org


March 19, 2022 | 17th of Adar II, 5782

By Debbi Kaner Goldich, International President

My Trip to Israel

Four weeks ago today I left for the trip of a lifetime to Israel. Waiting for me in Israel was our Executive Director Rabbi Ellen Wolintz-Fields. I stayed eleven days and although I have been home almost two weeks, I still feel so excited and as though I just left. I arrived Tuesday afternoon and was met at the airport by my friends Debi and Jon Bruce. Debi is the International Recording Secretary and I stayed with them for two nights before the conference. My negative Covid test results came in the middle of the night. Over the next three days Rabbi Ellen and I met with our WLCJ database manager Joyce Levitas, our wiz events manager Rich Levitas, visited Neve Hanna where we both sit on the Board, had lunch with Naomi Graetz who teaches at the Masorti Women’s Day of Study, visited with Avner Moriah, the artist whose paintings hang in the WLCJ Educational Pavilion at JTS at his studio, prayed at Nava Tehilla, had lunch on Shabbat at the home of Rabbi Paul Freedman and his lovely wife Nina and on Wednesday met with Tehila Ruben, the Deputy Director of Masorti.

Before Shabbat Rabbi and I moved to the Inbal hotel which was the site of the conference. The conference began Sunday morning. As a participant in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations 47th Leadership Mission, I was thrilled to return to Israel. This was my fourth trip and very different from all the rest. The purpose of this Conference of Presidents is to hold an assembly for all American Jewish leaders of 53 major organizations to have one place when a group or official want to contact those leaders. It is a place for professionals and lay leaders to hear from and interact with Israel’s political and military leaders while networking with each other. The conference was canceled last year and extra safety measures were in place to ensure our safety.

Over the five days, the COP met with President Isaac Herzog, at his beautiful residence, Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy, Minister of Regional Cooperation Issawi Frej, Member of Knesset Mansour Abbas, Justice minister Gidon Saar, Ambassador of Morocco Abderrahim Beyyoudh, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai, Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan, Pnina Tamano-Shata the Minister of Aliya and Integration and other Members of Knesset (MK) at the Knesset building. Other celebrated speakers included Natan Sharansky, journalists, business leaders and military leaders.

We visited Jerusalem City Hall and met with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. We visited the Gaza Border and the new IDF Home Front Command Headquarters. The opportunity to network with leaders of other organizations was integral to the conference. Rabbi Ellen and I were a presence at the conference. We shared as well as learned from the leaders who have the same challenges and successes. We both chaired a session and Rabbi lead the delegation in Havdalah on Saturday night.

What a trip! The highlight of a challenging year and a half of my presidency during this Pandemic. It was truly an honor to represent Women’s League for Conservative Judaism at the conference. The trip lasted eleven days and the jetlag lasted almost a week but the memories will last a lifetime.

Shabbat shalom,

Debbi

Debbi Kaner Goldich

WLCJ International President

dgoldich@wlcj.org


March 12, 2022 | 9th of Adar II, 5782

By Margie Miller, Immediate Past International President

I truly am my brother’s keeper

Having taught Hebrew school for many years, I obviously retold the story of Cain and Abel, introducing the children to the literal meaning of that question. ”Where is your brother?” asked God and Cain replied “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

As adults we know that simple question is not just about the literal meaning, but it’s greater interpretation can transform mankind. Are we responsible for each other? Where does that obligation begin and end? During the current crisis in Ukraine, I assume many of us are asking that same question daily.

This past week I’ve been dealing with the death of my brother, Andrew, who had no other family members other than me. I truly am my brother’s keeper. I guess quite frankly I always have been. For close to 20 years there was nobody else to do well check ins. For close to 20 years questions and answers were avoided, as if one day there would be magical solutions to all life ending plans and concerns.

We all know people who have family members with dementia. They often question why they need to visit when their loved one doesn’t know who they are. The answer to me has always been clear… you know who they are!

My brother was healthy and well but mostly a recluse. He chose to live for over 50 years in the home we grew up in. By not answering my phone calls, by not responding to my outreach, he would tease me every month or so when I would go knock on the door and he would come out to the street and talk with me for five minutes perhaps. He didn’t seem to want me to visit but I guess he always knew I would keep coming back. Because no matter what he wanted, I knew I had an obligation to make sure he was safe. I knew there was nobody else. I knew that indeed I am and was my brother’s keeper.

My brother was bright and had so much potential, he was witty and inquisitive. He had so many talents and possibilities. I mourn his lost opportunities. I’m mourn a man who could’ve had such a different quality of life.

This week, not only have I reaffirmed my sisterly duties, but all of you have reaffirmed your commitment to sharing the burden of caring for each other with every call, every card, attending the zoom shiva, and the hundreds of virtual hugs. We/you are as much as “our sister’s keepers” as I have literally been my brother’s.

Shabbat Shalom,

Margie

Margie Miller

WLCJ Immediate Past International President

mmiller@wlcj.org


March 5, 2022 | 2nd of Adar II, 5782

By Debbi Kaner Goldich, International President

A Small Jewish World

Last week I had the honor of attending the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’ (COP) 47th leadership mission in Israel. Rabbi Ellen Wolintz-Fields, WLCJ Executive Director and I were part of a delegation that represented 53 organizations with a single purpose of engaging with Israel. During the five days we met President Herzog, the Prime Minister, foreign ministers, members of the Cabinet, Ambassadors from other countries, the new US ambassador to Israel and other members of this government’s diverse coalition.

On the fourth day we visited the Gaza border and the new IDF’s Homefront Command headquarters. While waiting in line to use the ladies’ room the young woman soldier behind me noticed my tag. Sophia proudly told me that she was also Conservative and had about a year left on her tour of duty. We talked further and she told me she was from New Rochelle, New York and her family belonged to Beth EL Synagogue. Of course I asked if her mother belonged to the Sisterhood and she told me her mother had belonged for a long time. I quickly used my phone to look up her mom in the database and Jayne’s name was there as a longtime member of Sisterhood and Women’s League. At the end of the visit, Rabbi Ellen and I took a picture with Sophia to send to her mom so Jayne could see Sophia was well and safe. I also wanted to tell Jayne how impressive this young lone soldier was and that it was my privilege to meet her.

When I returned to the database, Jayne’s email was not in her page and neither was her cellphone number. I could not email or text the picture so I wrote to a friend who belongs to that synagogue sisterhood. My friend, Judi wrote to the sisterhood president who wrote back to me with Jayne’s email. Finally, I could send the beautiful picture of Sophia to Jayne. Jayne wrote to me to thank me and I subscribed Jayne to all the Women’s League emails with her email address so she could receive this message and all the rest that come out.

If you receive this message you are subscribed but if you know someone who does not receive our messages, please reply with that woman’s name and email and we will subscribe her. Our information connects our members with valuable programming on the International level and the Conservative Jewish world. The world may be large but our Women’s League for Conservative Judaism world is small enough that Jewish mothers can share our children’s pictures from thousands of miles away.

Thank you to Sophia and Jayne Peister for giving me permission to share the story and the picture.

Shabbat shalom,

Debbi

 

Debbi Kaner Goldich

WLCJ International President

dgoldich@wlcj.org


February 19, 2022 | 18th of Adar I, 5782

By Randy Schwartz, WLCJ Torah Fund Canadian Liaison and International Consultant

Change is Good

They say change is good. As we think back at our lives, we think of the various changes that we have had to undergo – some changes were because we thought they had to be made and, of course, some changes were out of our control. For the most part, they work out for the best.

In order for an international organization such as Women’s League for Conservative Judaism to grow, to flourish and to survive, change is a must and is inevitable. Over the 100 years of our existence, many changes have taken place affecting our regions and our affiliates. Women’s League changed from 28 Branches to 13 Regions, restructuring the geographic make-up in most. Three of our Regions have merged American / Canadian memberships. We have altered Region bylaws, allowing each Region to determine the leadership positions necessary for them to operate.

One of the most important global changes has been in technology and how we use it to effectively communicate within our large Women’s League organization. A number of years ago we launched online giving options to our membership. We were only able to offer online options to our American membership; there was no vehicle available to our Canadian membership. In January 2021, a Torah Fund ecard portal was launched for our American membership. We have been working diligently since then to set up a designated Torah Fund ecard platform for our Canadian supporters. We are delighted to advise that this was done, and launched in January. This is a most welcome addition as we continue to increase, improve and strengthen our services equally to all our affiliates throughout North America.

We thank you for your continued support of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism and the Torah Fund Campaign.

Shabbat Shalom,

Randy

Randy Schwartz

WLCJ International Torah Fund Canadian Liaison

WLCJ International Consultant

rschwartz@wlcj.org


February 12, 2022 | 11th of Adar I, 5782 
By Debbi Kaner Goldich, International President

An Honor and a Privilege to Serve

2022 has brought many new adventures and opportunities for me personally as 

WLCJ President. As President I have sat on the Boards of the Seminaries we support, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Neve Hanna and Mercaz. I have had the honor of working collaboratively with leaders of our Conservative movement and I have attended Zoom meetings with Israel’s Prime Minister and Foreign Ministers and the Chanukah program with President Biden.

Next week, on February 15, I will travel to Israel with WLCJ Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen Wolintz-Fields on a National Leadership Mission as delegates to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Rabbi and I will represent Women’s League with fifty other delegates from around the country and meet with Israel government officials and as well as military leaders, policy makers, and diplomats to discuss concerns facing Israel. This conference will be the time for me to learn about the changing dynamics of World Jewry so that I can return home and be a better and more effective advocate on behalf of Israel. There is no better time to be in Israel meeting with important government officials to discuss the Kotel agreement and to support our Sisters at Women of the Wall.

After two years of not traveling on behalf of WLCJ, I am excited to not only return to Israel but to strengthen relationships with other colleagues and Presidents of other organizations. Rabbi Ellen and I hope to do WLCJ business while we are there and meet with our contacts.

I thank all of you for the opportunity and privilege to represent you as President of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism. Stay tuned for an update on my fabulous adventure!

Shabbat shalom,

Debbi

Debbi Kaner Goldich

WLCJ International President

dgoldich@wlcj.org


 

February 5, 2022 | 4th of Adar I, 5782

By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, WLCJ Executive Director

Judaism Is Not a One Size Fits All

Two of my favorite Debbi-isms, a term I just coined for terms that our Women’s League for Conservative Judaism International President, Debbi Kaner Goldich, likes to say are: ‘We are alive and well at Women’s League’ and ‘There is chocolate, vanilla, and swirl.’ (Of course referring to ice cream flavors.) This past Sunday, January 30, 2022 was a great example of both those Debbi-ims. The program “Who Owns the Wall?” was extraordinary, with at one point 376 zoom screens – and more than 376 people, because some screens had multiple people! The program organizers, Illene Rubin and Lori Snow, outdid themselves in planning, promoting and implementing a very educational and moving program. The response truly showed that we are indeed, alive and well at Women’s League, and truly thriving. Our Women’s League program was done in collaboration with two other great women’s organizations, Women of the Wall and Women of Reform Judaism. We truly showed how we are all stronger together, B’yachad, when we work together for a common cause and goal – to raise women’s voices.

Our speakers truly showed that women’s voices come in all flavors – chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and swirl. Our women are part of the Conservative Movement, although not all of us grew up in the Conservative Movement. Some of our sisters will wear a tallit, and don tefillin – a few grew up doing so; some just took on these mitzvot later in life; and some will never think of performing these mitzvot – which is totally fine. Conservative Judaism is a pluralistic movement and as an organization WLCJ is tolerant. We are chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and swirl! Additionally, we were able to partner with Women of Reform Judaism, because we are stronger together, and although we may worship differently, and may have different interpretations of various aspects of Judaism, we should learn from each other. Halachah, Jewish Law, also means a path. And there are many paths that can be taken. Furthermore, our speaker on the Women of the Wall (WOW) program, Yochi Rappeport, Executive Director of WOW, shared with us that she is from an Orthodox background, grew up in Safed, and lives an Orthodox life, and additionally, she davens with Tallit and Tefillin. Judaism is not one size fits all. Nor are the women who are part of Women of the Wall. Supporters of Women of the Wall are from all denominations of Judaism. We should be tolerant of all denominations in Judaism, and learn from each other. If we look within our own sisterhood affiliates, I am sure there are many sisters who follow and observe differently than they did in their former years, and also in unique ways from their family members. Many of us have chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and swirl in our own families. When a comment is made about other Jews – being Orthodox, Reform, Reconstructing, Humanist, or make comments about people of other faiths – let us always keep in mind, that the comment is not about other – but may actually be a comment about the sister you are speaking to, or the sister’s relatives – could be her spouse or partner, or her child, or another family member.

Let us be cognizant of what we say, and remember we are pluralistic. Let us be tolerant, and careful of what we say. Judaism is not one size fits all. Nor is Women’s League for Conservative Judaism. We are here for all of our sisters – no matter what flavor you like.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields

WLCJ Executive Director

ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org


January 22, 2022 | 20th of Shevat, 5782

By Terri Hartman, WLCJ Personnel Chair and WLCJ International Board of Directors Member

Why are we the Chosen People?

This week’s parashah, Parashat Yitro, is one of the busiest and most dramatic of the Torah. It has a little something for everyone – lessons in leadership from Moses’ father-in-law, receiving the Ten Commandments at the foot of Mt. Sinai, and, for Philadelphia football fans, Adonai declaring to the people that he, “bore you on Eagles’ wings.” But I really want to focus on a few specific aspects.

In Exodus 19:5, Adonai says, “Now then, if you obey faithfully and keep my commandments, you shall be my treasured possession among all the peoples.” In Hebrew, the word for treasured possession is “סְגֻלָּה segulah.” “Am segulah” is sometimes translated as the chosen people. But what does that mean? What are we chosen for?

Being chosen is something I think about a lot in my family. All of us are strongly connected to Conservative Judaism. My children work in the Conservative Jewish world – one is a rabbi, one is a cantor, and one is a youth director. One daughter–in-law is also a cantor/rabbi, and one son-in-law works for Ramah. My husband is also on the board of USCJ. People have asked me: how did that happen?

The truth is that I am not sure. Like many of you, I sent my children to synagogue preschool. They felt comfortable there, and even made lifelong friendships. The shul became my “Cheers”, where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. In different ways, we all felt a calling and responsibility to serve.

So, what does that say about being among the chosen? Many scholars agree that it is not arrogance or innate characteristics that make us better than other peoples. The same parashah that introduces “segulah” also introduces the world to the Ten Commandments. Perhaps chosen means that it is our responsibility to lead and show the rest of the world the example of striving for a life of morality and service.

It is in this way that we, the devoted volunteers of Women’s League, serve as our movement’s Chosen People. It is through our dedication and service that we shine a light on what service to the community and a passion to grow and learn means to Conservative Judaism. May we all continue our sacred mission and go from strength to strength.

Shabbat Shalom,

Terri

Terri Hartman

WLCJ Personnel Chair and

WLCJ International Board of Directors Member

tshartman@comcast.net


January 15, 2022 | 13th of Shevat, 5782

By Debbie Zimmerman, WLCJ Mid Atlantic Region Education Vice President and WLCJ International Board of Directors Member

Expressing our Gratitude

On this Sisterhood (Women’s League) Shabbat, as on every day, we give thanks for our blessings. As Jews, this begins when we wake up in the morning. We are commanded to recite prayers of gratitude even before we get out of bed. The first words that often roll off our tongues are “modeh ani lefanecha”. I gratefully thank You for returning my soul”. Our Siddur here is telling us something very interesting…to be a wakeful human being is to greet each day by appreciating our surroundings— including the air we breathe and the people that are part of our lives. We give thanks for the morning that brings us life and health, and for Shabbat that teaches us to be grateful for all that life brings us on a daily basis. But what happens when we can’t see the blessings? When all we see are the obstacles and the challenges.

For the past two years, the theme for Women’s League for Conservative Judaism has been “B’Yachad”. The word “B’Yachad” in Hebrew means “together”. This year, we once again have endured the challenge of the Covid pandemic. We have endured sickness. We have been lonely. We have been cautious. So where are the blessings in this? How can we be “together” when we are told to stay far away from one another? How can we be “wakeful”? How can we be grateful?

As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, of blessed memory, once said, “So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” In the face of the pandemic, our Sisterhoods pivoted….. B’Yachad, together, we made necessary changes.

Together our committees organized events and meetings on zoom. Together we studied Torah and held virtual services. We baked challot together virtually. We attended virtual Hebrew classes, distance learning events, training sessions and programming in our regions and across North America.

We are grateful for the creativity that emerged. Grateful for the camaraderie that continued to build. Grateful for planting the seeds for success instead of allowing the challenge to stop us. Grateful to be “together, B’Yachad, spiritually. By working together, we have had the strength to change the course of our thoughts and actions.

And in our personal lives, we can be grateful for things large and small. Grateful for the first responders, doctors and nurses who risked their lives day in and day out in the hospitals full of patients being treated for Covid. Grateful for the workers who kept the shelves stocked with essentials. Grateful for the phone calls from friends who checked to see if we were well. Grateful for the chicken soup that they brought if we were not. Grateful for the friends who appreciated our calls to them. Grateful for our health and the well-being of our closest friends and relatives. Grateful for the extra time spent with our children who were home for virtual learning. Grateful for our clergy who continued to inspire us in times of crisis. And, grateful for being “wakeful” and noticing what needed to be done and for having the ability to do it.

Together, B’yachad, we made a difference. Together, B’yachad, we will continue to do so.

And so, I offer you a prayer of gratitude. Birkat Hagomel, is a prayer that is often said after recovering from a serious illness or surviving a dangerous journey. We all have survived the journey through the pandemic and have emerged more “wakeful” and “grateful” on the other side.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, ruler of the world, who rewards the undeserving with goodness, and who has rewarded me with goodness. May he who rewarded you with all goodness, reward you with all goodness for ever.

Shabbat Shalom,

Debbie

Debbie Zimmerman

WLCJ MidAtlantic Region Education Vice President,

and WLCJ International Board of Directors

debrazimmerman1@gmail.com


January 8, 2022 | 6th of Shevat, 5782

By Marsha Strongin, WLCJ Treasure

Family Togetherness

We have been reading about the plagues and this week, Parashat Bo tells of the last plagues and the first Passover. I am always reminded during this time of year of the Passovers that I spent with my family. Although my three sisters and all of our children and (in some cases) grandchildren are spread over 7 states, we try to get as many of us together as we can for Seder. Before COVID began, we were all planning on coming to Texas to my house to celebrate. Unfortunately, because of this modern-day plague, we have had to hold our Seders on Zoom. Having the Seder on Zoom was a small pleasure compared to being able to celebrate them in person. There is something about a crowded room, all singing together, that just does not measure up to what we can do on Zoom.

Geoffrey, my husband, and I did manage to visit my parents in Charleston, South Carolina, for both of my parent’s birthdays last year. We went there in our RV – a three-day trip from Texas and stayed for about a month. That was the first time that my parents saw any of the family in person for over a year!

I recently returned from a visit to Charleston and was joined by my three sisters to celebrate our mother’s (significant) birthday which was on December 21. It was so nice to finally be able to get together in person, even though our children and grandchildren were not able to join us.

I enjoy seeing all of my Women’s League friends over Zoom for all of our programs. When COVID first began, going online to Makom B’Yachad (it was called Psalms, then) was the only real contact that I had on a daily basis with anyone. I made new friends and saw old ones every day and that kept me sane when I couldn’t go anywhere or have anyone come to my house. Now, I still can see those friends three days a week as well as on other WLCJ programs, like the “How to Live Forever series” or the “Jewish Women in Film” series that I enjoy. Those programs bring me together with friends but it warms my heart even more to be able to actually be able to hug my parents, sisters, and brothers-in-law. I keep hoping that next Passover will again see the whole family united. I pray that this plague of COVID won’t last too much longer! I hope that you were also able to see your families over the recent holidays and had as much joy as I did with mine.

Wishing all of you a very happy secular New Year.

Shabbat Shalom to you all,

Marsha

Marsha Strongin

WLCJ Treasurer

mstrongin@wlcj.org


December 25, 2021 | 21st of Tevet, 5782

By Debbi Kaner Goldich, International President

We Need Tomorrow and Tomorrow Needs Us

“If you are not a better person tomorrow than you are today, what need have you for a tomorrow?”

-Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, 18th Century Rabbi.

As I read these words this morning in the daily issue of E-Jewish Philanthropy I immediately related them to myself. As Jews, we are taught we can become better tomorrow through our actions today. A few moments later after some self-reflection, I thought about these words in relation to Women’s League and the Pandemic situation. After the past year and all that has happened, I wonder how we enter this new secular new year and be better than we were last year.

We have accomplished a great deal this past year. Our successes have been enormous and include offering sophisticated educational opportunities for learning and engagement, rewriting of Region and Sisterhood affiliate bylaws, creating an International central calendar of activities, preparing and training two classes of consultants, translating our website into eight languages, brought back the WLCJ APP to our cellphones, joining with other organizations such as ADL, JCPA, USCJ and FJMC for programming, connecting with world communities of Jewish women like Uganda and preparing Region leadership through regular monthly trainings to name a few.

How is it that we even have a need for tomorrow after accomplishing all this? Our need for tomorrow stems from the fact that we are a Jewish women’s organization in the 21st century. It is our role to keep our ancient religion sacred and alive. As women we are responsible to maintain the family’s connection to Judaism. As an organization we are responsible to provide educational initiatives that make our movement stronger and provide women the opportunity to do that also.

Make a New Year’s resolution to join us. Many of your Synagogues and Sisterhood affiliates are still not doing full programming due to Covid. Take the time to join Women’s League. Read the weekly newsletter (WL Week) and look for programming that interests you. Register and attend with hundreds of women just like you from all over North America. Volunteer on the Sisterhood affiliate, Region or International level. We have many opportunities and never refuse an offer to help. Feel free to share programming ideas with me and your Region leadership.

Tomorrow, we are a better organization with you. We welcome you and need you to help make us better. We are also here to make a difference in your life. Your tomorrows will be better with us. All you have to do is show up. It is as easy as clicking the Zoom button!

Wishing you all a healthy and happy secular New Year. Stay safe.

Shabbat shalom,

Debbi

Debbi Kaner Goldich

WLCJ International President

dgoldich@wlcj.org


December 18, 2021 | 14th of Tevet, 5782

By Barbara Ezring – International Torah Fund Chair

Gifts to Ensure the Future

I’ve been thinking lately about the legacy I want to leave my children and grandchildren. This week I am particularly moved by one blessing in the Torah parashah, Va-Yehi. At the end of his life, Jacob finally met Joseph’s sons in Egypt. He blessed his grandsons as his own sons saying, “By you shall Israel invoke blessings saying, יְשִֽׂמְךָ֣ אֱלֹהִ֔ים כְּאֶפְרַ֖יִם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁ֑ה

God make you like Ephraim and Menashe.” (Genesis 48:20) Today, we bless our sons and our grandsons using those same words.

How will I leave my legacy to my children and grandchildren? I will tell them my stories and I will share precious family objects, each having its own story. I will let my children know what is important to me through my actions now. They will hear the story of my first Benefactor level donation to Torah Fund, the year that my husband was ordained a rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary. I wanted to be sure that future rabbis and cantors would be able to begin their new careers debt-free, as we had. I will share my stories about some special jewelry that I own. I will sit with my children and grandchildren and let them select for themselves the Torah Fund pins from my collection that they will treasure.

What will you do with your pins? Share them with those you love. Let them know that each pin represents your dedication to the future of Conservative/Masorti Jewish education. Gift them to Jewish women in nursing homes who love a beautiful piece of Jewish jewelry. Many members have used their old pins to create beautiful tallit clips. Let your family know why you have these pins, why you donate to Torah Fund.

I donate to Torah Fund so that my grandchildren and their grandchildren will have qualified, dedicated, wise leaders in their synagogues, religious schools, summer camps, universities, and communities. I generously give to the Torah Fund General Campaign each year so that the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, Schechter Institutes in Jerusalem, Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires, and Zacharias Frankel College in Potsdam, Germany will have the funds they need to continue to provide quality programming and scholarships. I give to the Creating New Spaces campaign because I want our students at JTS and at Ziegler to have safe spaces to work and study. I am a member of the Torah Fund Legacy Society to ensure the future of Conservative/Masorti Jewish education. I send Torah Fund ecards and paper greeting cards to celebrate joyous occasions and console a grieving friend.

Join me in creating a legacy that will ensure the future of Conservative Judaism. Donate to Torah Fund, celebrate Judaism with your family, share your stories.

Each Shabbat, we can bless our daughters with the words, “May you be like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah”. We can bless our sons and grandsons with “God make you like Ephraim and Menashe” using our Patriarch Jacob’s enduring words, part of his legacy to us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Barbara Ezring

International Torah Fund Chair

bezring@wlcj.org