Sheilah Abramson Miles was installed as president of the Central District of Women of Reform Judaism at the district convention held in Louisville November 3-6. Along with Susan Glazer, Jerri Kaye Mobley, Judy Berzof and other women from around the region, Abramson Miles will serve on the WRJ Central District board for a term of two years.
Glazer will serve as vice president of development and special projects. Mobley is the district’s new South Area director, and Berzof is the board parliamentarian.
Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) is the voice, the presence, and the catalyst for action of the women of Reform Judaism in the synagogue, the Jewish community, interfaith groups, and the general, local, national, and international communities.
There are eight Districts that make up the WRJ, and Central District provides assistance for the sisterhoods located in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and West Virginia, through programming, events and cultivating new leadership within local sisterhoods.
About 80 women from these states attended the conference, which featured events at Temple Shalom, The Temple, the Hampton Inn Downtown and Muhammad Ali Center, and had the theme WRJ Central Rocks the Boat.
At the opening luncheon, Rabbi Dr. Nadia Siritsky, vice president of mission at KentuckyOne Healthcare, delivered the keynote address, “Human Trafficking and Other Social Justice Concerns.” She tied the Torah portion of the week, Noah, to social justice issues today.
In the portion, after the flood it is suggested that Noah committed sexual transgressions and his son, Ham, became the scapegoat. “We have not evolved much further today,” Rabbi Siritsky said. We still tend to blame the victim for the transgressions of others. She cited several other biblical examples of blaming the victim to put space between ourselves and the issue, and ultimately gaining power over others.
She tied this in with human trafficking and the resulting exploitation, particularly when it comes to children. WRJ, she said, has taken up the cause of human trafficking and she called on those present to pursue justice and take the fight to a higher level of action.
Devoted to a broad spectrum of Jewish and humanitarian causes, WRJ and its districts further the teachings and practices of Judaism. Stronger together, they support the ideals and enhance the quality of contemporary Jewish living to ensure the future of progressive Judaism in North America, Israel and around the world.
At lunch on Shabbat, the delegates heard from Tori Murden McClure, president of Spalding University. She focused on women’s empowerment and her personal journey from crossing the Atlantic Ocean alone in a rowboat, the first woman to do so, to her role and accomplishments as president of Spalding today.
At the Saturday evening gala and installation ceremony, Louisvillian Jonathan Wolff, a composer who is renowned for his theme music that includes the theme of Seinfeld, entertained everyone with anecdotes from his career interspersed with energetic interludes at the piano that showcased his mastery.
The program also included a number of workshops, services and working sessions.
To accomplish this mission, WRJ supports diversified activities including projects on religious and family education, support of the State of Israel, and a wide range of vital, far-reaching programs in the fields of social justice and women’s issues.
Districts fundraise at the regional level for the WRJ YES Fund (Youth, Education, and Special Projects), which provides grants for causes such as the training of rabbinical and cantorial students at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), financial support of the National Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), sponsorship of a Legislative Assistant for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and ongoing support for global Progressive Judaism.