WRJ Biennial- 2009
Enjoying the weather – Good……….,
- Attending workshops – Great!…….,
- Listening to the speakers -Wonderful!……….,
- Experiencing the WRJ 47th Assembly, Sustaining Our World, in Toronto, Canada – Priceless!!!
There was a feeling of power as over 450 women spent five days together learning, laughing, and praying! We met friends – old and new. During our time in Toronto, we joined with the men and women who were attending the URJ Biennial for a joint Plenary and Shabbat Services. There is something special when three thousand Jews come together to celebrate Shabbat.
I think it is safe to say that everyone came home inspired, exhausted, and looking forward to the next Biennial/Assembly December 14 – 18, 2011 in Washington, D. C.!
As I look back over my time spent in Toronto, some of the outstanding moments included:
- Listening to Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian physician who is passionate and eloquent proponent of peace between his people and the Israelis in spite of the fact that on January 16th, an Israeli tank shell shattered his home in the Jabalia refugee camp home killing three of his daughters and his niece. He spoke of his respect for all women as peacemakers, who hold the future of humankind in their hands.
- On the lighter side, our Central District Luncheon was attended by 32 women who had time to renew friendships and make new friends while having fun. The highlight of the luncheon was picking our “WRJ Idol”. This group of women sang a song about, what else? Sisters.
- Our workshops addressed issues on Health-care, Budgets, Marketing sisterhoods, the “Greening of sisterhoods”, Using Technology, Intermarriage, Nurturing Leadership, Fundraising success, Social Action Rings, Building your Sisterhood Board,. Nominating Committees, Running a Judaica Shop, Membership, Challenges of Transitions in Life, Organizing yourLife, and Women’s Retreats. These are just a few of the choices we each had to make – there were many more.
- On Thursday evening, the first WRJ Film Festival was held. We had four outstanding films to chose from including Blessed is the Match. This was the first documentary feature about Hannah Senesh, a poet, living in Israel, who joined the only military rescue mission for Jews in her native Hungary. Others included The Longing, Praying with Lior, and The Gefilte Fish Chronicles.
- We heard the remarkable story of our recipient of the Dr. Jane Evans Pursuit of Justice Award, Judy Feld Carr, who personally rescued over 3,200 Syrian Jews from the tyranny of their home country. She was able to set up a network of cells who were able to “purchase” Jews. If bribery failed, she arranged for successful escapes.
- At our Yes Fund Luncheon, we heard from NFTY leaders, Rabbi Michael Mellen, URJ director of youth programs, Rabbi David Ellenson, president of HUC-JIR, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center, Rabbi Walter Homolka, executive director of the Abraham Geiger College at the University of Potsdam, and author, Anita Daimant. Special Lifeline pins were awarded and over $86,000 was raised for Lifelines and Circle of Service.
Rabbi Walter Homolka
- On Friday, the theme of our Plenary Session was Israel and featured Rabbi Miri Gold, whose case to receive official recognition as a rabbi by the State of Israel has been taken up by the Israel Religious Action Center. Also, we welcomed fifteen new sisterhoods into WRJ. They are being paired with sisterhoods in the U.S. It was a truly exciting event and we are now an international organization!
- We celebrated the end of Shabbat with Havdalah and the installation of our new WRJ Board. Our new president is Lynn Magid Lazar and her new 1st Vice President is Blair Marks. Board members from the Central District who were installed include Sandy Adland, Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, Indianapolis, IN (2009-2013) Karen Sim, Wise Temple, Cincinnati, OH (2009-2013); and Bette Jo Stempel, Temple Israel, Columbus, OH (2009-2011). Continuing on the Board are Andrea Ludwig, Temple Beth Emeth, Ann Arbor, MI (2007-2011); Nancy Apfel, Wise Temple, Cincinnati, OH (2007-2011); and Janet Roth, Temple Israel, W. Bloomfield, MI (2007-2011).
To those of you who were unable to attend this assembly, now is the time to begin setting aside money in your budgets to send women to the next assembly, which will be held on December 14 – 18, 2011 in Washington, D. C. Attending an assembly is truly an unforgeable experience. Just ask anyone who has ever been to one!