We returned from the Fried Leadership Conference today and it was AWESOME! Great workshops, fabulous speakers, controversial plenaries, moving services, (mostly) excellent food, and oh that Purim Palooza! Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund received the 2018 Jane Evans “Pursuit of Justice” Award, WRJ’s highest award, and, WOW, is she amazing! It was a pleasure to listen to April Baskin, URJ VP of Audacious Hospitality. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, URJ President, spoke passionately of the things that URJ is doing to support women, youth and social justice. Kathryn Fleisher, immediate past president of NFTY, blew us all away with her poise, presence and passion. And of course Blair Marks and Susan Bass, immediate past President and current President of WRJ, both spoke eloquently as well.
Services with 400 women are always something special, but Michelle Citrin, singer, song writer, and artist, gave services an extra measure of spirituality and depth. On the flip side, plenaries are usually long and boring, but these were filled with stimulating controversy and debate, and were quite interesting. We passed all the bylaws changes, and passed resolutions on affordable housing and child marriage.
We loved the workshops and got a lot out of them. Jackie Zev got the most out of the workshop on membership and will be bringing back several ideas to implement, but her favorite workshop was the one on learning from our youth – the young women on the panel were all incredible. Kathy Barker enjoyed the social justice workshop – she really loved hearing Leslie Brier, the WRJ representative to the UN (did you know that WRJ has a representative at the UN?). On a practical level, she thought the workshop on the secrets to running an effective meeting was extremely well done and useful. Sharon Janis was enthralled with the workshop on anti-Semitism led by April Baskin.
The conferences closed with a speech by Abby Brafman, who organized March For Our Lives Nashville. This 19-year-old Vanderbilt student from Parkland, Florida, spoke of what it was like to hear that there was a shooting at her High School. She spoke movingly of the hours after the shooting trying to reach one of her friends, and how she hoped that it was because she was being taken to the hospital, or in surgery, or in recovery, and finally realizing that the reason she couldn’t reach her was far more terrible. The entire room was in tears.
Our biggest regret was that more women were not able to join us at the conference to share in the memorable experience. We hope that you will all consider joining us at Area Day in July and at WRJ-Pacific District Convention in San Diego in October.
Just in case this email didn't give you enough information and you would like to read more, Jackie will be posting detailed information about her experience on her blog (www.ityfaq.com) - A post about Thursday is up, and she will try to post something each night until the entire 5-day experience is posted.
Rather than end this email with humor, we're ending it with Marian Wright Edelman quotes!
If we don't stand up for children, then we don't stand for much.
Far less wealthy industrialized countries have committed to end child poverty, while the United States is sliding backwards. We can do better. We must demand that our leaders do better.
Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.
I never thought I was breaking a glass ceiling. I just had to do what I had to do, and it never occurred to me not to.
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