A Time for Growth and Renewal
by Rita Wertlieb
Passover and the spring season are the perfect time for committing ourselves to growth and renewal. The 13 regions of Women’s League are getting ready for their annual conferences, where women across North America will come together to learn, share, and renew friendships. They will spend time absorbing new techniques and knowledge to strengthen their sisterhoods. A great deal of time and energy goes into designing these conferences, anticipating that participants will return home with renewed energy and enthusiasm. This has been the norm for Women’s League conferences and conventions for as long as I can remember.
But what about the woman who doesn’t belong to her sisterhood? What about the synagogue that has never formed a sisterhood, so its female members don’t even know what they are missing? And what about the women who are not affiliated with any congregation at all? There are women of all ages, married or not, with or without children, recently retired or just beginning a career, in each of our communities. How do we attract these women, right there in our midst, who have been unreachable?
Women who belong to a sisterhood, participate in its activities, or attend a region event appreciate being with other women who share their interests, values, and ideals. They are enriched by their Judaism and pass their love for our traditions and heritage to family and friends. Most of us can remember when we first joined our sisterhoods, and in looking back realize that we have become better informed and more learned, or have developed organizational skills and leadership qualities, proving that sisterhood and Women’s League nurture us as Conservative Jewish women.
One of my goals for Women’s League in 2012 is to increase the community of Conservative Jewish women by focusing on individual members and engaging the unaffiliated women in our synagogues and communities. I am convinced that there are women who want to be a part of a network of Conservative Jewish women but don’t know how, or somehow feel disconnected or disenfranchised. How can we reach these women?
There are many ways. Firstly, every member of a sisterhood affiliated with Women’s League has to understand that she is part of a much larger organization. We are reaching out to our members through social networking, listserves, and our website (www.wlcj.org) to let them know what it means to be affiliated with an international organization.
Secondly, Women’s League provides opportunities to interact and learn with women who share the same interests in public policy, social action, study, tikkun olam, and creative Judaic arts, to name just a few. Women’s League creates materials viable for both sisterhoods and the individual. Find out more about our projects and programs on our website. There’s something there for everyone!
Thirdly, Women’s League, together with the other organizations that make up the Conservative movement, addresses public policies and concerns affecting Jewish communities worldwide. Being part of an international organization that cooperates with other policy-making and educational institutions is a powerful incentive to membership. It is not just one woman making a statement; it is a movement of committed Conservative Jews taking a stand.
This became apparent on the most recent Women’s League mission to Israel, when we met with Masorti women in Zichron Yaakov in the north and others from the Jerusalem/Tel Aviv areas. Our connections were immediate, and our common interests, concerns, and goals were clear. We are one international community, working together toward a common goal.
Finally, the educational materials that Women’s League produces make it easy to create programs, workshops, and learning venues that can appeal to a broad range of women. I invite all of those in positions of leadership in their sisterhoods to use our materials when reaching out to women in their communities.
I ask each of the women reading CJ:Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism to join us. Send us your email address so we can keep you informed about our programs. We’re at email@example.com
. Women’s League for Conservative Judaism could be, and should be, the network for all the women in our movement. Together we will strengthen Conservative Judaism in the home, synagogue, and community.
My very best wishes to each of you for a Passover filled with happiness, peace, and the love of family and friends.
Rita Wertlieb is the international president of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.