WRJ Centennial CD

Introducing Limdu Heiteiv, an 18-song compilation album celebrating honoring WRJ’s past, present, and future. more

WRJ 49th Assembly and Centennial Celebration

Join WRJ for its 49th Assembly and Centennial year-end Celebration! more

$100 for 100

Celebrate WRJ's first hundred years and Support our next 100 more

WRJ Centennial Journal

Commemorate our 100th birthday through the WRJ Centennial Journal. more

WRJ Centennial Covenant Book

Original prayers, poems, and meditations in a volume to keep, use, and proudly display more

WRJ Centennial Ambassadors

Inspire your sisterhood to participate in local and WRJ Centennial activities. more

WRJ Unsung Heroines Program

This program recognizes WRJ members who have helped advance the organization’s goals.more

Centennial Salute to the WRJ Cookbook Collection

Sample recipes from WRJ's historic cookbook collection more

WRJ Centennial Archival Project

Learn how your sisterhood can become part of the WRJ Centennial Archival Collection. more

WRJ Fried Leadership Conference

Improve your leadership skills while bonding with fellow sisterhood members. more

WRJ Centennial Trip to Israel & Berlin

Join Women of Reform Judaism for a Centennial Celebration in Israel and Berlin more

WRJ Centennial Symposium

Workshops, panel discussion, and keynote speaker Jonathan Sarna. more

WRJ/HUC-JIR Essay Competition

“Celebrating Our Journeys: My Spiritual Path to Reform Jewish Leadership.”more

WRJ Divrei Torah

Written to celebrate women of our past and the core values and successes of NFTS/WRJ. more

WRJ Centennial Symposium
Registration for the WRJ Centennial Symposium is now closed!

Date: Sunday, June 2, 2013

Time: 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM

Location: Temple Israel of the City of New York
                  112 East 75th Street (between Park & Lexington Ave.)
                  New York, NY 10021

Cost: $25 (Advance registration required! Includes a continental breakfast and lunch)

We invite you to join WRJ for its Centennial Symposium. Dr. Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and Chief Historian of the new National Museum of American Jewish History, will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Gary Zola of the American Jewish Archives and various Jewish scholars will also lead several workshops and a panel discussion on topics about women in Reform Judaism, and other areas of interest.

Presented in partnership with the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and sponsored by Franklin M. Fisher and Ellen Paradise Fisher.

PROGRAM INFORMATION: (keep checking back for updates!)

Schedule (subject to change):

9:30-10:00 AM                     Registration check-in & continental breakfast
10:00-10:45 AM                   Welcome & Overview
11:00 AM-12:00 PM             Workshop break-outs (attend one of four options)
12:15-1:00 PM                      Keynote: Dr. Jonathan Sarna
1:00-2:00 PM                        Lunch
2:00-2:30 PM                        Presentations: Dr. Gary Zola & WRJ honorees
2:45-3:45 PM                        Panel presentation
3:45-4:00 PM                        Conclusion

Keynote Address: Dr. Jonathan Sarna - "Women of Reform Judaism: In History, Making History"

Introduction: Pam Nadell, Chair of the Department of History and Director of the Jewish Studies Program, American University

Rebecca Kobrin, Russell and Bettina Knapp Assistant Professor of American Jewish History, Columbia University

"From Auxiliary to Artery: Jane Evans, NFTS, and the House of Living Judaism, 1933-1951"

In the annals of twentieth-century Reform Judaism, Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath is hailed as the visionary leader who moved the Union of American Hebrew Congregation's main offices from its historic center in the Midwest to the 'House of Living Judaism' in New York City. While many discuss the controversy and historical significance of the move, few have paid attention to the critical role played by NFTS, which raised close to $500,000 and made this move possible. What can the NFTS fundraising efforts on behalf of the House of Living Judaism tell us about Jewish women and Reform Judaism in the first half of the twentieth century? How did the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods raise these sums? What types of fundraising methods did they deploy? As Kobrin's workshop will explore, the ability of NFTS to raise the sums necessary for the move to New York City is directly related to the innovative leadership of Dr. Jane Evans (1907-2004), executive director of NFTS beginning in 1933 until her retirement in 1976. With the opening of the House of Living Judaism, the UAHC realized it could no longer rely only on the largesse of just a few donors, but had to engage and raise funds from the masses to sustain their organization and its activities. It was in this era of mass Jewish philanthropic activism that the women of NFTS were propelled from the sidelines to the forefront, making their auxiliary into a main artery of the Reform movement.

Sylvia Fishman, Joseph and Esther Foster Professor in Judaic Studies, Brandeis University

During the uneasy years before and after World War II, when anti-Semitism rose in Europe and the United States, Reform women lay leaders viewed themselves as deputies of a respected rabbinate. Sisterhood women assumed leadership in educational and other religious areas, taking their cues from rabbinic allies. In contract, many Reform male lay leaders described themselves as having interests and goals that diverged sharply from rabbinic formulations. This early female dedication to overtly religious rabbinic agendas - accompanied by male distancing from many of these agendas - foreshadowed dramatic transformations in religious leadership that followed in the 1970s and beyond, and helped set the stage for the gender reversals that characterize much of American Jewish life today.

Joellyn Zollman, Lecturer, San Diego State University History Department

"The Shop Around the Corner...From Your Sanctuary: Sisterhood Gift Shops and the NFTS Campaign for Home Observance"

In 1947, the Temple Sisterhood in Augusta, Georgia earned a spot in the "Bright Ideas" section of Topics and Trends, the newsletter of NFTS, for organizing a "gift mart featuring distinctive Jewish gifts for all occasions with profit from sales reverting to the sisterhood treasury." This "bright idea" caught on quickly in post-war American Judaism, so that one year later, in 1948, the task of organizing and promoting a sisterhood gift shop was made part of the national agenda of NFTS. Over the next decade, synagogue gift shops became "a sisterhood institution" in Reform congregations. Dr. Zollman will explore the history of this "sisterhood institution," paying particular attention to the meaning and purpose of the shops in NFTS' program. Her talk will examine the roles women played in the shops, from wife and mother, to business partner and ritual expert. Zollman will also consider the place and space of Judaica in the shops. In the American synagogue gift shop, challah covers, menorahs from Israel, and seder plates came packed with potential not just for decoration but for education, cultural connection, and continuity. These objects were not presented in a vacuum; rather they were part of a larger shop display and a greater sisterhood agenda.

Carole Balin, Professor of Jewish History, HUC-JIR, New York campus

"Get the Uniongram Habit"

How did the Uniongram come to life? What tactics were used to make it the basis of an ingenious fundraising campaign for WRJ to this day? What's a Uniongram playlet? A Uniongram pin? A Uniongram luncheon? In what ways did the illustrations on the Uniongrams change over time? We will learn everything you always wanted to know about this inventive greeting card through visual images, a presentation, and discussion. 


*Please allow extra travel time due to the Celebrate Israel Parade

Public Transportation: Take the #6 subway to the 77th Street stop. Exit the subway and walk south on Lexington Avenue until you reach 75th Street. Turn west and walk along 75th St. until you reach Temple Israel.

By car
: Parking is available in several nearby lots. Please allow extra travel time because of traffic from the Celebrate Israel Parade. Lots with weekend specials include Townhouse, on E. 73rd Street between 3rd & Lexington Avenues, and Equity Parking on E. 75th Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenues.

QUESTIONS about the Symposium? Contact Arielle Jacobs, WRJ Manager of Centennial Events: ajacobs@wrj.org or 212.650.4060 or Amanda Feldman, WRJ Manager of Meetings & Programs: afeldman@wrj.org or 212.650.4054.