The Women of Women’s League

A network of committed and connected women

by Rita L. Wertlieb

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Who exactly are the “women” of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism and what do they stand for?

Having just returned from a very successful Women’s League Biennial Convention, held in Las Vegas last December, I can tell you that the women of Women’s League are bright, progressive, engaged, and dedicated to their sisterhoods, synagogues, communities, and families, as well as to perpetuating Conservative/Masorti Judaism throughout North America and in Israel. They are all ages, members of a sisterhood or individual members, from those who are single, to young mothers, to recent empty nesters, to grandmothers.

They are truly intergenerational, all working together toward the same goal: to make sure that our synagogues remain strong so that they and their families remain connected as a community of Conservative/Masorti Jews. Many read Torah and lead services, serving as shelichot tzibbur and part of our prestigious cadre of Kolot BiK’- dushah. At convention, they got up in time to attend Shacharit services, wearing both kippot and tallitot, many wrapped in tefillin.

Rita Wertlieb

They are eager to study, to learn and to improve their skills as leaders in their sisterhoods and communities, while climbing the ladder of mitzvot. The women of Women’s League are confident and have strived to fulfill the legacy that has been handed down for many years, that of “Torah, divine service and deeds of loving kindness.” As I said during my installation, “The primary purpose of Women’s League has always been to promote a deeper understanding of these time-honored expressions of the Jewish soul, while signifying their relevance to the women of today.” It is our mission to enable Jewish women to appreciate these traditions and the role they have played throughout our history so that they will take pride in creating a richly Jewish life for themselves and their families.

Seeing the enthusiastic response to the new strategic plan unveiled at convention, I am convinced that our future as a relevant organization is more secure than ever! Our educational programs and materials appeal to a broad spectrum of women who participate in study sessions and distance workshops on-line or through our many networks that address the needs of special interest groups. They use materials from our website in their sisterhoods and homes. Members of our board participate in meetings, no matter where they may live thanks to new technology. Sisterhood presidents share information and their concerns on our Sisterhood PrezNet, and even Judaica Shop chairs have their own online listserve. Our members support Israel and maintain personal connections to their sister Masorti women’s groups and kehillot. Thanks to our members’ support, Masorti Women’s Study Days continue to grow, flourish and attract new members. More than 400 women attended each of the four study days given throughout Israel with classes taught in
Hebrew, English, Russian, and Spanish.

In the past year the women of Women’s League, through the Torah Fund campaign, raised more than $2.25 million to  support the Jewish Theological Seminary, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, and provided scholarships for the Seminario Rabinnico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires.

And if that’s not enough, when they learned that the KOACH programs on college campuses were in danger of losing their funding, the women of Women’s League stepped up to the plate, and saved the KOACH kallah, that group’s inspirational annual gathering. For a second year, thanks to Women’s League, students will acquire the leadership skills needed to engage and connect other Conservative Jewish students on their respective campuses. KOACH provides the only connection our children may have to progressive, pluralistic and traditional Conservative Judaism while living away from home.

Yes, our theme for the year is, “Uri, Uri…Awake! Greet the New Dawn.” That is what the women of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism are committed to do. We are committed to the future of Conservative Judaism and to the engagement of women no matter their status or age. Our members are a network of women who enjoy the same interests, ideals and goals, sharing their thoughts, concerns and triumphs, from Canada to Mexico, from California to New York, and from Israel and beyond. No matter where we may travel, what our interests, how we create our Jewish homes, where our children are in school, the connection and support are there. Any woman belonging to Women’s League for Conservative Judaism knows that she can rely on that. This is who we are – a caring community and network for all Jewish women. Join us!

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