One Hundred Years

The partnership between Women’s League and United Synagogue reflects their long history together.

by Rita L. Wertlieb

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One hundred years is a long time. When you stop and think of how far we’ve come over the past century, it’s difficult to comprehend. I doubt that our grandparents, or even our parents, could have imagined what we take for granted today. Yet at the same time, we know that it takes time and effort to develop anything of lasting value. Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, originally known as the Women’s Religious Union of the United Synagogue, has been sharing an ongoing commitment to cultivating, nurturing and servicing Conservative Judaism in North America with United Synagogue for most of its 100-year history.

Both organizations have forged a partnership designed to strengthen synagogues and sisterhoods throughout our joint network. As a result, together we have succeeded in fulfilling our mission of perpetuating Conservative Judaism in the synagogue, home and community. Thanks to our efforts, most of our synagogues are completely egalitarian, and women are not only counted in the minyan, but many times lead the minyan. Becoming a bat mitzvah is the norm for most girls turning 13, and it’s not unusual for young women to become rabbis, cantors, scholars, and educators. Whether as professionals or volunteers, Women’s League members keep Conservative synagogues vibrant and viable.

Women’s League and United Synagogue, in conjunction with the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, produce this top quality magazine, which goes into more than 200,000 households. The leadership of the organizations meets frequently to develop new initiatives and programs to benefit all of our members, and we have pooled resources to build and grow for the future. In this spirit of cooperation, Women’s League will hold its annual meeting on Sunday, October 13, 2013 at the United Synagogue Centennial Convention, just as United Synagogue held its annual meeting with us last December in Las Vegas. I invite you all to join us!

This is has been a tumultuous century for the Jewish people, yet Conservative Judaism has emerged as an exciting and energetic approach to Judaism in America, Israel, and throughout the world. As Women’s League prepares for its own centennial, we are implementing a new strategic plan, and are looking forward to a future that will resonate with Jewish women worldwide. It is imperative that our three organizations – representing the Jews in the pews of our movement – continue to work together to ensure that everyone committed to pluralistic, egalitarian, halachic, and socially-engaged Judaism can find a home in Conservative/Masorti Judaism.

As we celebrate 100 years of shared history, we may have to adapt to remain relevant, but the value of our mission and basic tenets remains steadfast. We will keep our synagogues, sisterhoods and men’s clubs strong, no matter what challenges lie ahead. And if we remain true to our foundations, we will be able to celebrate another 100 years together.

Rita L. Wertlieb is international president of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.