Women’s League is the Voice of Conservative Jewish Women for Tikkun Olam

by Sarrae G. Crane

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Historically, Women’s League has been known for its focus on education, on enhancing the Jewish knowledge of its members. But what is often overlooked – or downplayed – is its commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world) that is as deeply embedded in the Jewish psyche as is our commitment to learning.

Along with initiatives that taught women how to keep kosher, to understand the foundations of holiday observances, and in later years, to lead services and read Torah, were projects and advocacy for a wide range of social and political issues. The nearly century-long commitment to the public good has encompassed causes from the protection of war orphans in the 1920s to the creation of the Jewish state in the 1940s, from advocacy for the ordination of women rabbis and cantors to safeguarding our environment, along with a wide array of women’s issues including reproductive rights and domestic violence.

This advocacy finds its roots in Women’s League’s social action and public policy resolutions. Since its inception, delegates to Women’s League conventions have debated and adopted resolutions on issues that impact the world we live in as Jews and as women. These resolutions, which can be found on our website (www.wlcj.org), direct the actions of Women’s League, its members and affiliated sisterhoods and
regions.

In an effort to be even more representative, this year, every member will be able to participate in determining our public policy positions. Proposed resolutions will be presented online in the spring, and discussed in blogs and conference calls. Voting will be open to all members, not just those attending convention.

In 2010, in the face of a growing national concern, Women’s League passed a resolution encouraging sisterhoods to help prevent bullying. At the next convention in July, we will roll out a broad program for members to become active and effective in such efforts in their local communities.

Half a century ago, we began publishing Ba’Olam, a bi-monthly world affairs newsletter in which we shared both domestic and global issues of concern. In the fall of 2013, we created a new format for Ba’Olam. Now distributed online, Ba’Olam focuses on topics on which Women’s League has resolutions, encouraging members to take some action.

Women’s League’s commitment to tikkun olam is expressed also through our membership in major national and international Jewish organizations – the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, NCSJ: National Conference Supporting Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (of which we are a founding member), Greenfaith, the American Zionist Movement, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. We add the voices of our members to the public debates, representing the positions Women’s League has adopted. As a benefit, these organizations provide resources on readily accessible websites, for individual action and program ideas for sisterhoods.

We are proud of the good work our collective voice has achieved in our 95 year history. There is so much more to be done. We encourage our sisterhoods to establish active tikkun olam initiatives. For those who are not members of sisterhoods, we encourage you to join your congregation’s sisterhood or to become an individual member of Women’s League. By joining your voice to our network, you help strengthen the impact we have in repairing our world.

Sarrae G. Crane is executive director of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.