Posted on December 2nd, 2013

A Dose of Ingenuity and Strategic Action Can Take Us Far

I recently began a monthly women’s Torah study group here at our congregation in Fresno, CA. After a couple years of getting to know the community, and after a few passionate requests from women in the congregation, I sought the support of the rabbi (my husband) to offer a Torah study as part of the adult learning offerings in the congregation.

The invitation to join the study group was met with unprecedented enthusiasm.Each month, more than 30 women, ranging in age from 20-82 years old, gather together to study the weekly parasha through the eyes of our experience as women. Over the last couple months, as we have traveled through Genesis, we have explored how women in Torah use their domestic roles as keepers of the home (Rebecca) and use their bodies (Tamar, Madame Potiphar) to exert their power in creative – and sometimes challenging. And, as we know, those women made significant contributions to the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham and Sarah and the shaping of the Jewish future.

One of the initial lessons I have learned from these women is that influence can emerge with a little ingenuity and through channeling one’s inherent power in the places where one can make unique and significant contributions.

Our ARJE leadership, in many ways has taken these lessons to heart in our ongoing work in the Reform Movement and in the Jewish community. As you read this December issue of NATENow, many of our ARJE members, their colleagues, and lay leaders are gathering together in San Diego, CA for the URJ Biennial Convention. Members of ARJE are presenting in workshops and sessions. Our ARJE booth in the “Resource Road” will be filled with activity highlighting the contributions Jewish educators have made to the field and the Movement, and members of the ARJE leadership will be meeting with leaders of other affiliates and institutions of our Movement.

More and more, ARJE is a partner in conversations taking place across our Movement. With ARJE representation on a plethora of Movement bodies we are sharing our expertise about Jewish education and the role of the Jewish educator. We are active participants in the dialogue about the changing landscape of our community and helping shape our future.

Rabbi Laura Novak Winer, RJE
First Vice-President, NATE