CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013 - 7

WRN News


he Women’s Rabbinic Network
enjoyed a wonderful convention in
Memphis TN in February. Our bi-annual
convention gathered for 4 days of rich learning,
beautiful t’filot and singing, and networking
and relationship building.
As part of our gathering in Memphis,
many went to the Lorraine Hotel where
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was
assassinated and to the Civil Rights museum It was very
moving to be in Memphis during the week of
Dr. King’s birthday. Had he lived, he would
have been 84 years old. As we stood together
in Memphis at that place where we all lost so
much, we reflected on his life and legacy, on
what a rare gift he gave to the world with his
courage and his passion.
Our convention’s focus was on the theme of
“Kol Isha—Lifting our Voices, Realizing Our
Strength” and we devoted much of our time
to learning and skill-building with the OpEd Project The
founder of the Op-Ed Project, Katie Orenstein,
started this non-profit project to increase the
range of voices and quality of ideas that are
heard in the world. It is clear if you look at
the opinion pages in any newspaper that the
range of voices that we hear from in the world
is very narrow—“mostly western, white, older,
privileged and overwhelmingly (85%) male.”
The vision of the project is that “we would have
a much smarter, richer, more interesting world
if more people had a voice. What if we could
benefit from all the best ideas and brains out
The Op-Ed Project challenged each of us to
think about how we engage people in our work
as rabbis, as thought leaders, and as agents of
change. One exercise asked us to introduce
ourselves as “experts” in an area. We had to
think out of the box—certainly we could easily
define ourselves as experts in the Jewish
world, and as experts in the professional lives
of women rabbis, but with so many rabbis
in one room, what did expert mean? The
discussion that followed was very enlightening
and revealed a common obstacle: many

women felt challenged to define themselves
as experts unless they were sure that they
had all the answers before putting ourselves
forward. The Op-Ed Project’s findings report
these same obstacles for women in many
different professional capacities, and are
part of the reason that gender imbalance
exists in the public sphere. Learn more
about the work of the Op-Ed Project at
We heard from an inspiring and passionate

“We heard from an
inspiring and passionate
panel of activists,
women who are a force
for change in their
panel of activists, women who are a force
for change in their communities: Pastor Roz
Nichols began the nonprofit organization “A
More Excellent Way” to eliminate relationship
violence after the death of a childhood friend
who died as a result of domestic/relationship
violence. Ruby Bright, the executive director
of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater
Memphis, shared with us her vision promoting
leadership among women and helping women
and children reach their potential. Alina
Gerlovin Spaulding, head of the Akiva school
of Nashville, shared her compelling story of her
family’s rescue from the Soviet Union thanks
to the efforts of the American Joint Distribution
Committee and how she has been inspired
to bring Jewish life to the FSU and to mentor
young Jews at the American Hebrew Academy
and now the Akiva School.
We screened the original “Women of the
Wall” film with documentary film maker Faye
Lederman, as she led us through the process
of making the film that premiered in 1999. We
cheered at some of the comical moments and


cried at the moments where we realized how
much nothing has changed, or how much it
has changed for the worse. We also had the
privilege of learning from a wonderful teacher
and colleague, Rabbi Judith Z. Abrams, the
founder of Maqom
who taught us Talmudic passages that were
enlightening, and disturbing at the same time.
And, it was not all seriousness—we did enjoy
a visit to Graceland, to see “Where Elvis
Lives”, and we heard a phenomenal concert
by the incomparable Karen Brown, a gospel
and soul singer with an amazing voice and an
even more inspiring neshamah, hosted by the
sisterhood of Temple Israel of Memphis.
As we move forward in our work, we are
dedicated to expanding the conversations
on advocacy, skill building, salary equity,
professional growth and advancement, and
work-life balance. We recognize that these
conversations need to expand outward and
include many voices on these issues. As
women and as rabbis, we are passionate
about our Jewish lives and, as women
and rabbis, we sometimes find ourselves
confronting significant obstacles within the
Jewish world. Our convention inspires us to lift
our voices and realize our strength by reaching
out to build new relationships, find new tools,
build new skills and, as Katie Orenstein taught
us, “increase the range of voices and quality of
ideas that are heard in the world.”
We are looking forward to seeing you at
the WRN dinner at the CCAR Convention in
Long Beach on Monday March 4th.
As always, we look forward to seeing you
and speaking with you. Please stay in touch
with us!
Audrey S. Pollack,
Alysa Mendelson and Helaine Ettinger,
Jackie Koch Ellenson,

CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013

CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013 - 1
CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013 - 2
CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013 - 3
CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013 - 4
CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013 - 5
CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013 - 6
CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013 - 7
CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013 - 8
CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013 - 9
CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013 - 10
CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013 - 11
CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2013 - 12