It’s Time To Move Forward

by Rita Wertlieb

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As I write this, my final article for CJ, it is impossible not to reflect on how I have changed since becoming president of Women’s League. Over the past three and a half years I have experienced growth, transformation, and a new sense of independence I never felt before. The same holds true for Women’s League.

We have grown, explored our options and embarked on changes that will help this organization remain relevant. Over many months of exploration by a group of dedicated volunteers, we completed a new strategic plan to guide us into the future with an understanding of our members, and what we must do to maintain their commitment. The strength of Women’s League relies on the strength of our sisterhoods, so we explored ways to help sisterhoods attract new members while answering the needs of existing members. Their success is our highest priority. The mission of Women’s League is to perpetuate Conservative Judaism in the home, synagogue and community. While this has always been our mantra, we now realize that not every woman will find her place within a sisterhood, so we now are welcoming those who accept our mission as independent members.

However, given the state of today’s Jewish community, the question of how we will continue to fulfill our mission remains. According to the much publicized PEW report, perhaps more than one-half of American Jews will marry outside the faith, and many will not marry until much later in life, if at all. If this is accurate, it presents a major challenge to our sisterhoods and to Women’s League. The composition of the “traditional Jewish
family” has changed significantly and unalterably, and we must respond appropriately. We know that there are women within our synagogues and communities who are single, divorced, widowed, single parents, and who have blended families. This is what we call the real Modern Jewish Family.

Through the development of our newest initiative, Modern Jewish Family, Women’s League is helping sisterhoods recognize and respond to the diversity of those living within our synagogues and communities. Women’s League has expanded its outreach to the unaffiliated Jewish women in our communities, along with those in our synagogues who represent this diversity.

Sisterhoods need to open their doors to all women who accept our mission, welcoming them wholeheartedly. The focus of Women’s League sisterhoods must be to foster a comfortable and inviting atmosphere for every woman. On the Women’s League website members and friends will find an array of materials that focus on celebrating traditional and diverse families, while encouraging an environment that is both welcoming and inclusive. Read Conversation Pieces on our website and find out about the real struggles and conflicts that too many in our community confront on a daily basis.

I share the same concerns as generations of Jewish women, of how to keep our children and grandchildren connected to their Judaism. By becoming informed and enlightened, our sisterhoods and individual members can begin a journey together that will strengthen our families, congregations and sisterhoods, ultimately ensuring their success and that of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism. Women’s League offers opportunities
for growth and resources for transformation. Begin a dialogue in your community that will help us all achieve our goal as a network of Conservative Jewish women. The time to move forward is now!

On behalf of all the members of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism – those in our 400+ sisterhoods and those who join as independent members – I wish you sweet Passover celebrations.