WRJ inspires spiritual growth by enriching contemporary life with Jewish rituals, traditions, culture, and opportunities for lifelong learning.
WRJ also designs programs to highlight our culture and traditions through books, movies, holiday cooking and programs, and virtual Israel tours. We also design programs to enrich Shabbat and partner with outside organizations to sponsor events such as Refugee Shabbat, Repro Shabbat, and more. In addition, we offer a weekly D'var Torah in our Friday newsletter, WRJ Today.
WRJ has been fortunate to have talented authors, well-known chefs, and other fantastic speakers who have spent time with us to share their passions with an estimated 6,000 individuals online. Below is a snapshot of some of our spectacular programs, which brought together new and old friends – no matter their location.
Film, Fiction, and Fine Wine
In August 2020, WRJ created the Film, Fiction, and Fine Wine committee, which has hosted award-winning authors and screened poignant films focused around themes of Judaism. Some of these authors include Elyssa Friedland, Jane L. Rosen, and even Italian cookbook author Benedetta Jasmine Guetta. We had Talia Carner discuss her book, “The Third Daughter.” We watched the movie "Hava Nagila" and participants had a follow-up conversation with director Roberta Grossman. These events have been so successful that they are now a staple of our virtual programming.
Jewish Holiday Baking Demos
To get in the mood for Purim, friends gathered virtually in March – on both coasts in their own special program – for a “Hamantaschen Purim Schmooze Fest.” WRJ North American Board Member Bernice Porrazzo hosted the East Coast schmooze and put her spin on hamantaschen with a special pizza hamantaschen recipe! Dina Bedak and Evelyn Bell, the creators of the Pacific District cookbook, hosted the West Coast schmooze. Participants learned the difference between Israeli and North American hamantaschen.
At Rosh Hashanah, we hosted Chef Kat Romanow of the Wandering Chew to show us how to bake Sephardic treats! She demonstrated how to make roasted butternut squash, harissa, and feta bourekas.
WRJ continues to gather virtually to enjoy each other’s company at these holiday events.
Over the last three years, we have held an array of virtual programs, connecting our participants to the land of Israel, related topics, and timely issues.
Beginning in June 2020, WRJ began planning and producing Virtual Israel Trips with tour guide Shari Robins. These programs were incredibly successful with over 90 attendees per tour.
“The virtual Israel trips during a time when we could not travel included some of my favorite Zoom moments.
Shari and the WRJ team did an amazing job of keeping us engaged. All things food and holiday related were also well presented.”
- Carol Newman
In October 2022, the Israel Education Committee (IEC) held a virtual Sukkah gathering welcoming our sister Reform Jews from Israel. Guest speakers shared their experiences and the social justice initiatives in which they participated. Last December, IEC hosted Rabbi Josh Weinberg, vice president of the URJ for Israel and Reform Zionism and the executive director of ARZA to help process the results and implications of the most recent Israeli elections.