WRN offers several opportunities for our members to connect and study even from great distances.  You are welcome to participate. We ask that you RSVP for our learning sessions, even if it’s last minute and on the day and time of the session to receive the call-in information.

The WRN uses Zoom for it’s national learning sessions. 

Podcast of previous learning sessions are available to members only. The links can be found under the members tab once you have logged in.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 12:00 pm EST 

Aggression: Yours, Mine, and Ours with Rabbi Ellen Lewis

When someone speaks aggressively to you, it can move you out of your comfort zone and leave you feeling temporarily speechless and powerless. How to move yourself back into a comfortable place requires a step-by-step strategy, including recognizing your own discomfort, becoming aware of your own aggressive feelings, and figuring out how to use your feelings to craft an appropriate response. In our discussion, we will consider these questions (and more): How do you know when to take something personally? How do you know which feelings belong to whom? What is the goal of your response?

Rabbi Ellen Lewis is a native of New Jersey and a graduate of Brown University. After her ordination at Hebrew Union College in 1980, she served congregations in Dallas, TX; Summit, NJ (named Rabbi Honorata); and Washington, NJ (named Rabbi Emerita). She recently retired from congregational work to practice full-time as a therapist, supervisor, pastoral counselor, and professional coach. Rabbi Lewis is a certified and licensed modern psychoanalyst in private practice in Bernardsville, NJ, and in New York City. She received her analytical training in New York at the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies and has served on the faculty of the Academy of Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis. She is also certified as a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. Her essay on forgiveness appears in Mishkan HaNefesh, the new Reform machzor.

Check back often for more information and to registration for future learning sessions!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 12:00 pm EST 

Aggression: Yours, Mine, and Ours with Rabbi Ellen Lewis

When someone speaks aggressively to you, it can move you out of your comfort zone and leave you feeling temporarily speechless and powerless. How to move yourself back into a comfortable place requires a step-by-step strategy, including recognizing your own discomfort, becoming aware of your own aggressive feelings, and figuring out how to use your feelings to craft an appropriate response. In our discussion, we will consider these questions (and more): How do you know when to take something personally? How do you know which feelings belong to whom? What is the goal of your response?

Recent Learning Opportunities

11/27/2017 - Beyond the Binary: What Millennials Know About Gender. Language around gender and sexuality has multiplied dramatically since the early days of the early Gay Rights Movement. Participants in this session entered into the cultural conversation about pronouns, labels, and more with colleague Nikki DeBlosi where questions could be asked without fear of offending one another or "messing up."

11/8/2017 - "Me, Too" A WRN Response Webinar. In response to the overwhelming outpouring of the “Me, Too” social media campaign, the WRN community joined together in dialogue to share, process, find our voices, and start healing. This session was guided by our colleague Ellen Lewis who brought a wealth of wisdom through her thirty-five years of experience as a rabbi and a therapist.

10/30/2017 - “What Do We Tell Our Daughters?”: Women’s Contributions to “American Values, Religious Voices.” Both in number of letter writers and in the substance of their letters, women made a large contribution to the “American Values, Religious Voices: 100 Days. 100 Letters” campaign. For the first 100 days of the Trump administration, a diverse group of scholars of religion sent letters to the President, Vice President, and Members of the 115th Congress that articulated core American values connected to our different faith traditions. Authors included1 prominent feminists like Judith Plaskow, Tamara Eskenazi, Phyllis Trible, and Bernadette Brooten. One woman writer challenged the President to consider how his words and actions impact young girls. Another addressed how demeaning rhetoric about women and blatant misogyny jeopardize advances by women in religious leadership. One letter urged our lawmakers to leave matters of birth control and abortion to women. Another highlighted stories of persistent women in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. In this session with Andrea Weiss, participants reflected on the role women played in this effort to speak religious truth to political power. 5/23/2017 - Mental Health and Wellness Challenges for Women Rabbis. In the complex field that we’ve chosen, there is nothing more important, or more challenging, than learning how to care for ourselves so that we can continue to do this important work. In this session with Betsy Stone and Ellen Lewis, participants discussed how to recognize signs of depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges in ourselves, how to navigate caring for ourselves while we care for others, and how to talk about our mental health needs with our communities.

4/27/2017 - The Rodef Shalom vs. The Rodef tsedek: Honoring the Pursuit of Peach as We Pursue Justice. There are only two values that the Torah commands us to “pursue”: peace and justice. But what do we do when the pursuit of peace and the work of justice lead us in different directions? How do we work for both of these central values at the same time, when the goals and the energies they evoke in us are often different? Participants, in this learning session with Rabbi Amy Eilberg, explored these questions which are so relevant in the midst of an era when we are called on more urgently than ever to lead in the pursuit of both peace and justice.

3/28/2017 - Reforming the Pay Gap: Practical Interventions. Building on the CCAR salary survey data shared in past CCAR/WRN webinars addressing the wage gap, this presentation focused on practical interventions that could be brought to any Reform organization. Dr. Langowitz shared insights into the culture which perpetuates pay inequality and some of the approaches to overcoming these biases. Participants also discussed how to raise this important issue within their own synagogues and institutions. The webinar, co-presented by the CCAR and WRN, is part of an on-going effort to narrow the wage gap within the Reform Movement; WRJ and WRN have secured a significant grant to help further these efforts. Marking the extra time the average American woman needs to work to overcome the wage gap, Equal Pay Day was April 4th. The content of this call helped rabbis talk about the significance of this date within their institutions, as well as advocate for themselves and colleagues. Presenters: Dr. Nan Langowitz, Rabbi Victor Appell, Rabbi Marla Feldman, and Rabbi Mary Zamore.

3/15/2017 - Women's Civil Rights in Israel Today. WRN together with our partners at The ARZA Rabbinic Council hosted a webinar with Dr. Susan Weiss, director of Jerusalem's Mercaz Tzedek L'Nashim/Women's Justice Center, on Women's Civil Rights in Israel Today: Agunot, Mamzerim, Adulteresses, and Other Good Reasons to Separate Religion & State.

2/16/2017 - Race and the Modern Rabbi: Embracing Holistic Engagement with Racial Diversity in Reform Judaism. Participants joined Isaama Stoll and Ruth Abusch-Magder for a conversation on how we can embrace racial diversity in our Reform Jewish spaces. We explored the work being done to address challenges of racial diversity and to create safe spaces for Jews of color within our community. Through this conversation we wanted to identify ways we can all work to meet the needs of an ever racially diversifying Jewish world.

12/14/2016 - Making Progress: Process or Result? This session was taken from the Hartman curriculum, Created Equal: Men, Women and the Ethics of Shared Leadership. This curriculum aims to articulate a theory of ethical leadership in the twenty-first century. In this session, participants explored the various interventions used for creating a more just leadership landscape, with focus on the challenges and opportunities endemic to each with Dr. Elana Stein Hain.

11/10/2016 - Preserving Women's Voices: Archiving Women Rabbis in the Digital Age. In this panel conversation with the directors of the American Jewish Archives and the Jewish Women’s Archive, we discussed how the archives go about collecting, preserving, and sharing the experiences of women rabbis, and how we could begin to think about our own voices as part of the larger story of women in the modern Jewish community. 

10/27/2016 - Mediation Skills for Managing Difficult Situations. Rabbis can be caught in the middle of conflicts among family members, co-workers, or lay leaders. Sometimes these conflicts are readily apparent and sometimes they arise spontaneously.  Some of these constituents even look to the rabbi to resolve these conflicts.  During this webinar, participants learned mediation techniques to help diffuse or resolve these conflicts in a lively presentation with real world examples from Martha Hausman and Ellen Waldorf.

9/15/2016 - Yearning to Breathe Free: A CCAR/WRN Webinar on the Jewish Response to Today’s Refugees. Participants joined Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, vice president for community engagement at HIAS, and Rabbi Judy Schindler, Director of the Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University, to learn more about today’s refugee crisis, the U.S. refugee admissions program, and how the American Jewish community is taking action in meaningful ways. Jennie addressed ways that Jewish communities can engage with refugee issues in the coming year while Judy spoke about her participation in then recent CCAR mission with IsraAID to Berlin.

5/18/2016 - The Gender Politics of the Chevruta Relationship. Participants explored Hevruta–the learning partnerships that organize talmud study with Rabbi Mira Wasserman. Together colleagues studied the talmudic story of one celebrated Hevruta-couple, Rabbi Yohanan and Resh Lakish, explored how Hevruta learning has worked in traditional communities, and how it might serve our contemporary communities. 

    4/20/2016 – Ethics: Avoiding Gender Bias in the Workplace. In this second learning webinar presented in partnership with the CCAR, participants discussed how the CCAR Code of Ethics and Jewish values guide us in creating workplaces that are free of gender bias with Danielle Banks and Michael Fenlon.

    4/4/2016 – The Gender Pay Gap in Congregations: Advocacy and Action. In this special webinar presentation done in partnership with the CCAR, participants joined Michael Gan and Elise Gould to discuss the gender pay gap from a variety of different perspectives, especially as they relate to women rabbis in the Reform Movement.

    3/15/2016 -Tackling the Unique Challenges of Being a Woman Rabbi: A Panel of Three Professional Rabbinic Coaches. Participants joined Judy Elkin, Rabbi Ellen Lewis and Rabbi David S. Wolfman, three professional rabbinic coaches as they addressed issues of management, leadership, balance, and self-care in an ever-changing rabbinate.

    2/11/2016 – Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World. Tens of millions of children worldwide live without parents and, as a result, suffer institutionalization, trafficking, illness and death. This is a humanitarian crisis This is a Jewish priority. In this session, Rabbi Susan Silverman, founder of JustAdopt, spoke on how she inspired members of strong Jewish communities in North America to adopt children who come from the same orphanage or region abroad, creating a meaningful peer group for the children, enriching the synagogue communities, alleviating human suffering, and repairing a broken world. Rabbi Hara Person of the CCAR Press was also on the call and discussed adoption liturgy in the new Rabbis’ Manual.

    1/12/2016 – Writing the Third Chapter: The Spirituality of Aging. Participants joined our colleagues, rabbis Jacqueline Koch Ellenson, Rachel Cowan, Vicki Hollander and Marion Lev-Cohen, for a conversation on taking a spiritual approach to aging. Jacqueline Koch Ellenson moderated a panel of rabbis engaged in working with people in their sixties and their seventies to make the “third chapter” of their lives one of spirit, resilience, wisdom and growth, using both the “Wise Aging” model and other modes of learning and community building.


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