Posted on February 18th, 2016

On the Interstate

As I drove home from the Yom Iyun, I had several hours to reflect on the day and our organization. Our Yom Iyun took place almost a year to the day since our historic plenary in Philadelphia when we voted to change our name to the Association of Reform Jewish Educators. Already we are feeling the positive impacts of this important symbolic shift.

We are beginning to reach a greater variety of Jewish educators and to demonstrate the benefits our organization offers in the form of professional learning and networking. Our webinars have attracted more and different people. I felt our more expansive reach at our San Francisco Yom Iyun gathering, with nearly as many non-members present as ARJE members. I know that the San Francisco experience was not unique in that regard. We are grateful for all the members of the Professional Learning Team, especially Rabbi Lisa Levenberg, Andrea Fleekop and their multitude of local hosts who envisioned and realized this day for us.

Driving south through the heart of the Silicon Valley, known for its culture of innovation and risk taking, I reflected on how we too have nurtured a similar culture. As a learning organization, we continuously take the time to reflect on our work, reconsider our goals, and readjust the way we do things. Our ARJEachshav newsletter is one example of that mindset. And we see this practice at every level of our organization, amongst all of our volunteers and leadership.

We have been very busy this year with many other projects that have emerged from our revised mission and prioritized goals. If you were unable to hear about this update in more detail at the Yom Iyun, you are in luck! It was presented via the wonders of pre-recorded YouTube video. I never imagined being ARJE President would enable me to be simulcast! Feel free to take a couple minutes to watch my remarks and learn more about the work we are doing as the voice of Reform Jewish Education and in the areas of branding and development.

Catching glimpses of the sunset in my rearview mirror on that drive home I also thought us. Each day we connect online in our Facebook group, we give time to ARJE in our various committee, task force and leadership meetings, and we even support each other through one-on-one phone conversations. I am gratified by our collective passion for our sacred work, the joy we bring to doing that work, and the relationships we develop with each other along the way. For all that, and more, we have much to celebrate.

Rabbi Laura Novak Winer, RJE, is the president of the ARJE.