WRJ 49th Assembly

centennial_logo December 11-15, 2013 in San Diego, CA

Materials and information are still being posted, but in the meantime, check out these videos for an overview of the WRJ Centennial Biennial

District attendees at San Diego Assembly, December 2013-MCentral District
was there!

Tuesday night board meeting

Other Highlights….

The Maurice N. Eisendrath “Bearer of Light” awards are among the Reform Movement’s most prestigious honors and were given to Founder and CEO of Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation Jay Feinberg and to Women of Reform Judaism.

The Bearer of Light Awards are named in memory of Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath, the executive director and President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations from 1943 – 1973. Under Rabbi Eisendrath the Reform Movement experienced tremendous growth. In 1951 Rabbi Eisendrath moved the Union’s headquarters from Cincinnati to New York, dramatizing the adoption of a more dynamic program of leadership within the Movement. The Union purchased its first camp in the early 1950s, and the Movement’s emphasis on social action began in earnest, culminating with the 1961 founding of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation is North America’s only Jewish bone marrow donor registry. In March 2013, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism announced a collaboration with The Gift of Life to bring the organization’s mission to save the lives of patients suffering from leukemia, lymphoma, other cancers and genetic disorders to the forefront of social action initiatives within the Reform Movement. The Gift of Life has also partnered with 13 URJ camps to test for potential bone marrow donors, resulting in six matches and two bone marrow stem cell donations.

A second Maurice N. Eisendrath “Bearer of Light” Award was given to Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), on the occasion of the organization’s centennial. Founded in 1913, WRJ is the women’s affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America. WRJ represents about 65,000 women in nearly 500 women’s groups worldwide and promotes women’s issues and leadership through education, programming, and advocacy.
“For one hundred years the Women of Reform Judaism have been the leaders of this Movement: advocating, teaching, and inspiring generations,” said Rabbi Jacobs. “I am confident that WRJ will continue to be at the forefront of the Reform Movement, and the greater community, for the next century – and many years beyond – and look forward to seeing all that will be accomplished in the future as we mark this momentous occasion.”


WRJ Jane Evans Pursuit of Justice Award

Anat Hoffman, executive director, Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and chairwomen, Women of the Wall (WOW), received the WRJ Jane Evans Pursuit of Justice Award.
Jane Evans served the Reform Movement for more than 70 years, 43 of them as Executive Director of what was the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, now WRJ. Jane was deeply committed to human rights, women’s rights, civil rights, interfaith relations and countless other manifestations of justice. They are reflected in the resolutions and advocacy efforts that have put Women of Reform Judaism in the forefront of religious action. This award is given to a humanitarian who models Jane Evan’s values.

Anat Hoffman was honored this award for her work on behalf of religious pluralism and progressive Judaism in Israel.
“We are thrilled to present Anat Hoffman with the WRJ Jane Evans Pursuit of Justice Award,” said Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, WRJ Executive Director. “Her unyielding demand that all of God’s creations be treated with dignity and respect, her love of Israel and Progressive Judaism, and her tireless dedication to improve our world reflect the same values that Jane Evans lived by and that inspired this award.”

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WRJ Faculty Award

WRJ gave its inaugural WRJ Faculty Award to Dr. Gary P. Zola, executive director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA). The award, established in honor of Rabbi David Ellenson on the occasion of his retirement as president of HUC-JIR, will be presented biennially to an HUC-JIR faculty member who either has supported WRJ in its endeavors, or whose work exemplifies the values and mission of WRJ.

Dr. Zola’s efforts have allowed WRJ to share their history with sisterhoods through his teachings and research.
“With the WRJ Faculty Award, WRJ is excited to recognize both Rabbi David Ellenson, in whose honor the award is being created, and Rabbi Dr. Gary P. Zola, who is the inaugural recipient,” said Blair C. Marks, WRJ President. “Both of these visionaries have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to furthering shared missions between our organizations within the Reform Movement and have helped us commemorate 100 years of Jewish women educating leaders, strengthening Jewish life, and repairing the world.”

WRJ Or Ami “Light of My People” Awards

The WRJ also honored sisterhoods with a WRJ Or Ami “Light of My People” Awards for social justice programmatic achievement between 2011 and 2013.
Established in 1973, the WRJ Or Ami “Light of My People” Award recognizes social justice, community service, and educational programming that is exemplary and serves as a model for other WRJ Districts and women’s groups. For the period of 2011-2013, there were 66 applications from WRJ affiliates in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. Based on selection criteria including quality, program content, replication potential, and impact, there were six programs in each of the following categories: Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

“As we celebrate WRJ’s Centennial year, we are pleased to recognize exceptional WRJ District and women’s group programming with the renowned Or Ami award,” said Lynn Magid Lazar, Immediate Past WRJ President. “These programs represent WRJ’s continued commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world) for the past 100 years and they will ensure that commitment will continue for the next 100 years and beyond.”

    Gold Or Ami Award Winners

    Temple Chai Sisterhood, Long Grove, IL
    Beth Israel Sisterhood, Portland, OR
    WRJ Midwest District
    Gates of Prayer Sisterhood, Metairie, LA
    Sisterhood of Temple Sholom, Vancouver, BC, Canada
    WRJ Kehillat Emet VeShalom, Nahariya, Israel and Temple Emanu-El Sisterhood, Tucson, AZ

    Silver Or Ami Award Winners
    B’rith Kodesh Sisterhood, Rochester, NY
    Congregation Ahavath Chesed Sisterhood, Jacksonville, FL
    Women’s Group of Kehillat Mevakshei Derech, Jerusalem, Israel and Temple Beth David Sisterhood, Commack, NY
    Temple Concord Sisterhood, Binghamton, NY
    Congregation Beth Shalom Sisterhood, Arlington, TX
    WRJ Pacific District

    Bronze Or Ami Award Winners
    Main Line Reform Temple Beth Elohim Sisterhood, Wynnewood, PA
    University Synagogue Sisterhood, Los Angeles, CA
    Emanuel Congregation WRJ, Chicago, IL
    Temple Beth Emeth Sisterhood, Ann Arbor, MI
    Women of Shir Ami, Newtown, PA
    Temple Beth El Sisterhood, Knoxville, TN

To learn more about the award-winning programs, please visit the WRJ website.


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authors Authors- Anita Dimant, Maggie Anton, Rabbi Zoe Klein