Supporting WRJ's YES Fund

A Lifetime of Lifelines
March 1, 2024Trina Novak

“You must always be able to predict what's next and then have the flexibility to evolve.” Marc Benioff

I joined my sisterhood and the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, now Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), primarily to form connections with other like-minded Jewish women. Joining a robust sisterhood with several members actively engaged in the district and North American levels led to knowledge and enthusiasm about the YES Fund (Youth, Education, and Special Projects.) I was inspired by stories of WRJ’s fundraising efforts in support of future clergy, our youth movement, and special projects uplifting our progressive values.

As soon as I was able to afford it, I pledged a silver lifeline. At that time, WRJ didn’t have a process that allowed building up to the next level from a previous lifeline. One of my sisterhood mentors had seven silver lifelines, represented by one silver pin, each pledged during subsequent YES Fund events. She and several others always wore their silver lifeline pins at events, and I was proud to be in their company.

Fortunately, the philanthropic teams that have served WRJ have been flexible in their marketing, and they introduced the ability to build upon past lifelines. I pledged a gold lifeline, building up from my silver, and worked out a generous payment plan to achieve my goal. I had served my local sisterhood as president and was now actively involved in district leadership, and I felt that one way to express gratitude to WRJ for advancing my leadership skills was to “go for the gold.” I placed my silver lifeline in a safe place – this was before WRJ had its pin pass-down program. One day a sisterhood friend called me in distress. Just like me, she had saved diligently to earn a lifeline. She had worn her silver pin to a WRJ event, and it had fallen off and was lost. The pin pass-down program had begun, and I decided that she should get my silver pin. She was overjoyed, and I made sure I included an earring back with the pin to minimize the chance of loss.

I then became the Vice President of Development in my district. We were still using paper newsletters, and I would often write my column about the YES Fund. My mother would patiently listen to my articles and offer editorial advice. After listening to me describe the YES Fund and its purpose my mother stated, “I want one of those lifelines!” She wrote out a check for a gold lifeline and asked me to accept it for her at a WRJ Assembly. I was so honored to be pinned with my mother’s gold lifeline, and proudly wore both our gold pins until I returned home and could ceremonially pin her. My mother and my father made regular donations to the YES Fund knowing how much it meant to me.

I was blessed to follow a leadership path that led to WRJ North American Board service, as well as serving as Northeast District President. To show my continued gratitude to the organization that had shaped a major portion of my life, I decided to build up to my pearl lifeline. I have proudly worn my pearl pin over the last several years, and, when I received it, I happily turned my gold pin in to WRJ, to be passed down to another sister who was building to gold. I hope the person who received that pin felt the love that went along with the joy of supporting the YES Fund.

Over the last several years I have grown so much on a personal level. I completed my WRJ Board service and am now a member of Chai Society. My parents left me an inheritance built upon service and philanthropy. During the 2023 Northeast District convention my friend, WRJ VP of Social Justice Shoshana Dweck, received her Diamond Lifeline. I thought of my parents and declared, “I want what she has!” and pledged to build up to a diamond lifeline in memory of my parents. I am looking forward to receiving my diamond pin at the Fried Women’s Conference in New Orleans this spring, surrounded by my sisters and potentially being pinned by Shoshana. I will bid my pearl pin goodbye and pass it back to the Philanthropy team in hopes that it will bring joy to the next recipient.

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