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: firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.650.4060 or Amanda Feldman, WRJ Manager of Meetings & Programs: email@example.com or 212.650.4054.