Jewish Journal


October 24, 2012

Jewish Women in Southern California: This One’s For You



We are missing something in the Jewish community of Southern California: women’s programming.

As you can see from my bio, I write this blog through my position as the Program Director of the Jewish Women’s Conference of Southern California. The conference is coming up on Sunday, November 11, 2012 at UCLA, and every Jewish woman in Southern California should be attending this incredible event. I may be tooting my own horn, but it’s really the speakers who are going to make this conference so amazing. Plus, I have yet to pull a shameless plug through this blog, and as we say: If not now, when?

For those of you who did not hear about or attend the conference last year (the first year of this event), it was the brainchild of National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles, NA’AMAT USA/Western Area, and Hadassah Southern California. Leaders of these three prominent and important Jewish women’s organizations got together and decided that it was time we had a serious program dedicated to connecting, educating, empowering, and inspiring the Jewish women of Southern California. The conference was a half-day event with four panels and 200 people were essentially packed into NCJW/LA’s Council House on Fairfax.

Following the conference, it wasn’t hard to figure out that this was something Jewish women had been craving for a while. Based on a recent survey from last year’s Jewish Women’s Conference attendees:

• Almost 90% of them feel that Jewish organizations, centers, and synagogues in Southern California either do not or only sometimes create enough dialogue and conversation on women’s issues.
• Almost 90% of them feel that Jewish organizations, centers, and synagogues in Southern California either do not or only sometimes do a good job of connecting Jewish women to each other and to the greater Jewish community.

I’m not saying there’s nothing going on for women in the Jewish community, but it’s not enough, and much of it involves asking women to donate money rather than empowering them to try something new, to be activists, to learn about and support each other, and to create community. Women want to learn about women’s issues. Jewish women want to learn about women’s issues and women’s issues within Judaism. We want to meet each other. We want to learn, grow, and help each other learn and grow. Not a single one of the 46 speakers at this conference is receiving an honorarium, which truly exemplifies the desire these women have to give back to our community.

What takes place at the Jewish Women’s Conference?

In a nutshell: 350 attendees, 44 panelists, two keynote speakers, 11 workshops, one DJ, bone marrow testing, information tables, live-tweeting, breakfast, lunch, and a networking reception.

The longer version:

We’ll spend the morning learning about feminism, activism, women in Israel, and the recession’s effects on women. In the afternoon, we’ll delve into women in Judaism, professional development, financial literacy, life transitions, and diversity.

Christine Pelosi, author of Campaign Bootcamp 2.0, will be delivering the morning keynote speech on “Our Call to Service” and Nina Tassler, President of CBS Entertainment, will cover “Crafting our Jewish Feminist Narrative” during her lunch keynote address. And we won’t let you leave until you’ve had a chance to schmooze, have wine and cheese, and network with other like-minded, inspiring women who want to make a difference.

I wasn’t there last year—I was living in Israel so I have an alibi. But you don’t even take my word for it. I’ll leave you with these quotes from women who attended the conference last year:

“It motivated me in the sense that I am more aware of certain issues and that the help and dedication of just one woman can do so much.”
- Kimberly Kandel

“I have always been an activist on various levels (more so in my youth) and this conference re-motivated me!”
- Joan Wine

“If women don’t speak up for women’s rights, then who will?”
- Gloria Shell Mitchell

“One woman expressed her fears about the next generation being too quiet. That really stood out to me. I need to learn to find my voice on the issues that matter to me.”
- Anonymous

Register today at www.jwcsc.org. I hope to see you there!

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