On Friday, May 13, the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) will honor Marra Gad, Eliana Rubin and Julia Weinstein, all from Los Angeles, at its 2022 Women’s Empowerment Awards. Established in 2019, this award honors women who strengthen the voices of others and promote progressive Jewish values.
“It is a tremendous honor to be lifted up as an empowered Jewish woman by the WRJ, and that is only made more special to me as, together with Tani Prell Epstein, we are the first women of color to receive this award,” Gad told the Journal.
Gad is the award-winning author of “The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl”, a speaker and independent writer/producer who is committed to social justice and advocacy work.
“Representation matters, and to know that generations of other women and people will see themselves in this honor is the very definition of what it is to expand belonging.” – Marrah Gad
“As a young Jewish woman, I never saw myself anywhere, much less being honored by the community,” she said. “Representation matters, and to know that generations of other women and people will see themselves in this honor is the very definition of what it is to expand belonging. I am humbled and very grateful.”
Jewish principles and traditions have always been a guiding force in Gad’s life.
“As someone who is dedicated to the conversation around belonging, the concept that we are am echad b’Lev echad, one people with one heart, guides my writing, speaking and my everyday life choices,” she said. “That our texts and traditions give us beautiful guidance specifically around how we should treat one another is one of the many things that I love about being Jewish.”
Eliana Rubin has been involved in the Reform movement since 2018, as a Theater Arts mentor at the Union of Reform Judaism’s 6 Points Creative Arts Academy and a member of the JewV’Nation LGBTQ+ Fellowship Cohort. Rubin is an open trans-advocate and ally in a variety of Jewish and LGBTQA+ spaces.
“Judaism has impacted who I am in virtually all facets of my being,” Rubin said. “By discovering what my own Judaism looks like, I’ve been able to incorporate Jewish values and teachings into many corners of my life. My Judaism helps guide my actions and knowing my Jewish community is behind me is incredibly comforting.”
Rubin’s message to Jewish leaders of the future? Try new things, be comfortable being uncomfortable, be brave and be yourself.
Julia Weinstein, a member of Wilshire Boulevard Temple Sisterhood, told the Journal, “It feels very special to be honored by WRJ, a Jewish women’s organization that identifies spirituality as one of its core tenets and that emphasizes spiritual growth in its mission.”
Through the WRJ, Weinstein has worshiped with Jewish women from around the world. There is great power when women gather together to pray – a unique spiritual quality enhanced by music and dancing that is very uplifting and joyful,” she said.
With more than 20 years of leadership experience in the Reform movement, Weinstein’s focus on advocacy and education demonstrates her dedication to social justice and to WRJ.
“My work in the non-profit space for both WRJ and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is based on Jewish values,” she said. “Jewish values teach us how to live, how to treat the world and how to treat others. By advocating for social justice, I am living and expressing my Jewish values.”
By harnessing the intellectual power and talents of women from all backgrounds, careers and stages of life, Weinstein believes the WRJ gives women a platform where they can continue to make a difference and grow personally and as leaders.
This year’s honorees also include Ellen Cohen (Congregation Beth Israel in Houston), Isabel “Liz” Dunst (Temple Sinai Women of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC) Becky Markowitz (Women of Shir Ami in Newtown, PA) and other leaders around the nation .
“WRJ is proud to honor these inspiring women who have put their Jewish values into action for the greater good,” said WRJ President Sara Charney. “We are inspired by their stories of how they combine their strong leadership skills and passion for repairing the world –tikkun olam—to empower women and girls for generations to come.”
The virtual ceremony, which features keynote speaker Dana Bash, CNN’s chief political correspondent, and musical guest Fourtelling, starts at 11 am PST on Friday, May 13. For more information, visit www.wrj.org.