One of first projects of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (NFTS, now WRJ) after its establishment in 1913 was the iconic WRJ Art Calendar. The calendar was developed initially as a fundraising tool for sisterhoods, who purchased calendars for 10 cents and, in turn, sold them for 25 cents. Sample calendars also were sent to department stores across the U.S., in hopes that the stores would order stock. This effort seems to have been successful as sales kept growing and in 1927-28, almost 18,000 copies of the WRJ 5688 Art Calendar were sold.
Through the years, the Art Calendar has reflected the time period and the work of NFTS/WRJ. Early calendars were held together with string. In 1932, the release of the WRJ 5693 Art Calendar was delayed due to shortages of these strings caused by the economic climate. The WRJ 5704 Art Calendar included information on air raid precautions and instructions on fighting fire bombs, compliments of the U.S. Office of Civil Defense.
Since its inception, the WRJ Art Calendar also served an important function by featuring Judaic artwork and showcasing the various ways the artist’s mind envisions the traditions of Judaism. The Art Calendar has helped bring Jewish artists’ work to the wider public by featuring a range of styles—including abstract, traditional, and representational—and a variety of mediums. “We Jews have too long been under the impression that ‘education’ is a matter of book learning,” Carrie Simon, the first NFTS President, wrote in a 1915 letter to all sisterhood presidents. “We have neglected the education that comes through the eye.”
Today, the WRJ Calendar is available online and includes the dates of Jewish holidays along with U.S., Canadian and Israeli public holidays, the Reform weekly Torah and Haftarah readings.