It’s Part Of My DNA

February 16, 2024Cheryl Barenberg

My involvement with WRJ has always been part of my DNA, but I never really became involved until someone from my local sisterhood asked 23 years ago this spring. I guess the adage all you have to do is ask holds some truth. I was new to Southeast Texas, and we joined our sacred community, Temple Emanuel about six months after moving to the area. That spring, our sisterhood held its annual fundraiser, Deli Day. I received a call asking me to volunteer in the pick-up area; I gladly accepted the challenge, and as it is said, “the rest is history.”

I enjoyed becoming part of my local sacred community and I quickly became actively involved in our sisterhood. I rose through the leadership ladder, holding various positions. I was then asked by the sisterhood nominating committee if I would consider the position of sisterhood president.  I believe this position served as a stepping stone for my leadership development.

My involvement with sisterhood, spirituality and social justice, the three pillars of WRJ, have always been a part of my DNA. These pillars seemed to fit seamlessly into my being. Becoming sisterhood president allowed me to become involved at the District level; first as a participant, and then eventually becoming District President. Again, being asked was all that it took. I was asked to apply for the District Board and had the opportunity to serve in various capacities there, too. The education and training opportunities afforded to me were invaluable. It provided me with the skills and confidence to pursue leadership in a way I had never imagined. During my presidency, I served most of my time virtually - as this was the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I had a great predecessor/teacher in my immediate past president. With her guidance, I was able to maintain a connection with the women of our District. Leading a group of women during the pandemic was certainly a challenge. It taught me that with a strong team of dedicated women, anything was possible to remain connected. I can easily say it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The ability to serve with a group of like-minded women who all feel a sense of connection/spirituality is amazing.

So why continue on this journey? Why WRJ? Again, I felt this was the next step in my leadership journey. To apply, and then be nominated to serve on the WRJ Executive Committee seems like the natural progression of my leadership growth. I am excited to be serving on the WRJ North American Board as it consists of like-minded individuals who praise female leadership and support Jewish values. I believe there is much work that needs to be done to educate society on topics that are important to the Jewish people, women, and the greater world.

That is why I chose WRJ. Our mission strengthens the voices of women worldwide and empowers them to create caring communities, nurture congregations, and cultivate personal and spiritual growth, all while advocating for and promoting progressive Jewish values.

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