The WRJ Story
"Women of Reform Judaism, an affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, is the collective voice and presence of women in congregational life. Stronger together, we support the ideals and enhance the quality of Jewish living to ensure the future of progressive Judaism in North America and around the world."
—WRJ Board of Directors, May, 2005
WRJ is the long established women's agency of Reform Judaism, which unites many members and sisterhoods in North America, Israel and around the world.
Committed to God, Torah, Israel and tikkun ha'olam (repair the world), WRJ promotes the centrality of the family and synagogue, and respects the importance of the individual woman.
Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) is an affiliate of the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ). The URJ is a religious and educational organization dedicated to the principles of Reform Judaism. WRJ is the founder of NFTY(The North American Federation of Temple Youth), and of the Jewish Braille Institute (JBI). It serves as the women's agency of the World Union for Progressive Judaism and serves as the means for the Women of Reform Judaism to support the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).
A Historical Overview
Established in 1913 as the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, the organization promoted Jewish women's religious equality with men. Over the course of the 20th century, NFTS was actively involved in both social action and change, such as:
- aiding relief efforts during WWI and the Depression
- bringing German rabbinic students to study in the U.S. in 1935 after Hitler closed Jewish universities
- urging governments to accept refugees before and during WWII and advocating on behalf of displaced persons after the war
- actively involved in the formation of United Nation and its charter
The years since WWII have been a time of growing membership for the organization. It has continued its commitment to human rights and the elimination of religious intolerance and discrimination based on religion.
As an indication of the growing achievement for women in Reform Judaism, in 1972 the first women rabbi, Sally Priesand, was ordained. In 1993, NFTS changed its name to Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ).
WRJ is a federation of independent and autonomously operated local affiliates that gives Reform Jewish women a collective voice on local, national and international issues. WRJ provides support services and advocacy assistance to many sisterhoods and members throughout North America, Israel and around the world.
Committed to a range of Jewish and humanitarian efforts, WRJ furthers the teachings and practices of Judaism. Some of its projects include:
- working on behalf of the blind and visually impaired
- strengthening Jewish identity in Eastern Europe
- supporting social action issues and education in Israel as well as advocating for religious rights of Reform Judaism and the advancement of Reform Jewish institutions
- intergroup relations and a wide range of vital, far-reaching programs in the fields of social justice and women's issues
More information on social action is available on the WRJ website.
Serving Individual Sisterhoods
WRJ serves affiliated Sisterhoods by making available materials for:
- membership retention and recruitment
- leadership development
- education and action on critical issues
- speaker's bureau
- strengthening local Sisterhoods through expanded communication links
WRJ and the WRJ Southeast District are also actively involved in programming for the District Convention.