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What's New in the District

Biannual Retreat:
Under One Tent, In the Company of our Sisters

Over the weekend of April 26-28, Sisterhood and WRJ leaders throughout the Northeast District gathered in Norwalk, Connecticut for our biannual Retreat - a time to refocus our efforts, renew our commitments, and have the opportunity to meet and greet friends who share our interests and goals. Because the weekend took place just after the Boston Marathon bombing, we were able to offer comfort and support to our "sisters" who joined us and live in Boston. We were joined by our spiritual leader for the weekend, Emma Goldin, a cantorial student at HUC, and a wonderful example of the talented and enthusiastic leadership coming from our movement.

The services on Friday night and Saturday were those written for the WRJ Centennial, including a special prayer written by Cheryl Greenfield of Beth El Temple Synagogue in Providence, Rhode Island. The Centennial was a recurrent theme throughout the weekend. Each participant was asked to bring an article highlighting an event that took place a hundred years ago, or how her Sisterhood has celebrated this milestone; these were posted by Barbara Jayson and incorporated into an icebreaker. Shabbat was welcomed with a birthday cake and Israeli dancing.

Special projects included the decoration of plaster butterflies, coordinated by Yvette Bergman, in memory of the children who perished in the Holocaust. Most women participated in a Meditation Walk on Saturday afternoon. And our fundraising tradition, the Missouri Shuffle, was held on Saturday night and enthusiastically led by Natalie Berhumoglu. We raised $1200 for the YES Fund through our donations and auction of a wide range of items.

Those who were able to find rare opportunities of unscheduled time were able to swim in the indoor pool, bike the trails, walk around the pond, and work out in the gym. During one break between activities, fifteen of us witnessed a very special wedding in the atrium of the hotel!

Our weekend was punctuated with business as well as pleasure, as we attended a Board Training with "fashionable" accessories provided by Robin Sobol, learned more about WRJ activities through an interactive Bingo game prepared by Denise Levine, and had a formal meeting on Sunday morning. At the meeting, we were also treated to a slide show of a recent WRJ organized trip to Israel, attended by Abby Fisher and Carmen Holtzman, and during which Carmen became a Bat Mitzvah.

Any combination of the weekend's events would have ensured its success, but the perfect spring weather, beautiful setting, and wonderful meals guaranteed that "Under One Tent" will be a Retreat to be savored for years to come. Following are a few photos from the Retreat.

All the best,
Yvette Bergman
Natalie Berhumoglu
Barbara Jayson
Sharon Sobel

Massachusetts and Rhode Island Area Day

The day began with Torah Study. Five women from the Sisterhood of Temple Beth Shalom, June Atkind, Aimee Bierman, Lisa Channen, Randi Lite, and Sharon Salinger, who had been prepared by Rabbi Michele Lenke, ably led small groups of participants in study of the weekly Parashah. Next, we gathered in the Community Room for lunch and a workshop. Following opening remarks by Robin Sobol, WRJ Northeast District President, everyone settled down to lunch and table discussions. Katie Roeper then presented her workshop, which was well received. Katie covered key points on how to evaluate and to strategically market individual sisterhoods. Included were examples of how to assess potential, how to identify one's audience, how to entice women to join, and how to package sisterhood as a product.

Several women worked behind the scenes to help with the many aspects involved in planning this day. We are grateful to them all. Special thanks to Paulette Black, Marsha Byrnes, and Sally Huebscher, three of our WRJ Northeast District Area Directors, who worked diligently planning out the logistics to make this Area Day a success. Marsha Byrnes kept track of registration, produced name tags, and produced folder stickers, Paulette Black made contact with the caterer and helped with initial publicity, and Sally Huebscher added creative flair, produced the wonderful centerpieces, and the yummy give aways. All three came up with a creative way to set up the space to accommodate all our participants. Also, many thanks to Marsha Moller, First Vice President of the Sisterhood of Temple Beth Shalom, who was inspired by listening to Katie Roeper speak at the last WRJ Assembly, and who contacted and worked with Katie to bring her program to all of us.

Temple Isaiah Lexington set-up crew

Temple Isaiah, Lexington set-up crew Marsha Byrnes, Gini Shevrin, Sally Huebsher and Karen Ray-Schorfheide

WRJ Board Member Katie Roeper

WRJ Board Member Katie Roeper presents her workshop, "Sisterhood is Like a Box of Chocolates".

Aimee Bierman and Sarah Keselman from the Sisterhood of Temple Beth Shalom

Area Day participants Aimee Bierman and Sarah Keselman from the Sisterhood of Temple Beth Shalom.

Area Day Giveaways

Area Day Giveaways - Chocolate, of course! Produced by Sally Huebscher.

Holy Blossom Temple Sisterhood's Archival Project

Holy Blossom Temple Sisterhood's illustrious history spans over 90 years and our special connection to the WRJ is deeply rooted. When selecting our archival project we decided that although there were many possible entries only one would truly work and represent us in our special way. We decided on a historical video spanning the generations past and present. A labour of love that would tell the story of who we are and where we came from.

When working on the project we had many opportunities to hear from many of our longstanding sisterhood members about the photos and the women who came to life in this pictorial video. We spoke to our Temple Archivist Sheila Smolkin who helped direct us and gave us wonderful insight to our past. It was truly a pleasure working with her.

There were so many hours invested in this project, time that was well spent and enjoyed by all. Take a few minutes to enjoy our history and know that we are stronger together working towards painting our new future for the Women of Reform Judaism. Click on the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6afL97Qce3o