A Lifetime of Support
By Liz Piper-Goldberg
As a student in the Rabbinical Program of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, I am supported by a generous scholarship from the Women of Reform Judaism. I am deeply honored to be the beneficiary of an organization that does such important and significant work for our movement and our congregations. I am so grateful that the contributions of the WRJ enable me to take the best advantage of all the opportunities afforded to me during my study at HUC-JIR in New York. I was also happy to learn that the WRJ has been supporting me throughout my life as an engaged participant in a panoply of Reform Movement programs and institutions.
Growing up outside of Boston, my family emphasized the importance of Jewish life in our home and our synagogue, Temple Beth David of Westwood, MA. My Jewish education continued at URJ Eisner Camp and at local, regional, and North American NFTY events. I developed a deep and consistent connection to Reform Judaism through my summers at Eisner and my active leadership in NFTY as a youth group board member, president, and regional Religious and Cultural Vice President. I also spent the spring semester of my junior year abroad as a participant in NFTY’s Eisendrath International Exchange. This first visit to Israel shaped my relationship with our homeland and changed my life forever. At Eisner, I began as a camper in 1998, served as a counselor and songleader for four years, and worked on supervisory staff as Teva Director and Tefilah Director as recently as this past summer. I am indebted to the Women of Reform Judaism for your continuous and deep-seated support of transformational youth programming that has directed the course of my life.
I attended Brown University in Providence, RI for my undergraduate education, where I majored in Environmental Studies. I focused my extracurricular life on strengthening my Jewish leadership experience at Brown-RISD Hillel, serving as the Reform Minyan leader for all four years, and taking on the role of Student President during my senior year. I presided over all meetings of the Student Board and the Hillel community of nearly 1,000 Jewish students and faculty, served on the Board of Trustees while working closely with the Hillel staff, and allocated funding for all Hillel groups and projects. Moreover, it was my task to create and implement a vision for the Jewish community and to represent Hillel publicly. I also spent a semester abroad at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, a peace and coexistence program that brings together Israeli, Jordanian, Palestinian, and North American students to study and live together on Kibbutz Ketura in Southern Israel. Throughout college, I reconnected with Reform Judaism at Biennials and through NFTY Conventions, where I was strongly aware and appreciative of the WRJ presence.
After graduation, I moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center from 2009-2010. My portfolio included Israel, Middle East Foreign Affairs, Church/State Separation, Education, Interfaith Affairs, and the NFTY liaison position. This job merged my passions for policy, Reform Judaism, and social justice. I also thoroughly enjoyed leading programming and working with the thousands of teens that attended the L’Taken social justice weekends. The powerful relationship between the RAC and the WRJ was evident in all of our undertakings in Washington and in local congregations. In particular, I worked on advocacy for the Women of the Wall when their rights to pray together in Jerusalem were challenged. I worked with sisterhoods and youth groups throughout the country to organize advocacy and education campaigns in support of Women of the Wall.
As a first-year rabbinical student in Israel, I participated in the Former Soviet Union Pesach Project. I led seders and programming throughout Russia, and had amazing encounters with Progressive Jewish community leaders in the cities of Moscow, Chelyabinsk, and Tver. The Women of Reform Judaism is a committed supporter of this project; both the people of these communities and the HUC-JIR student participants in this project are indebted to the WRJ for your contributions.
I look forward to continuing my relationship with the WRJ during my rabbinical studies and throughout my rabbinate. Thank you for supporting me throughout my life thus far, and thank you again for this generous scholarship.
Liz Piper-Goldberg is a second year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR in New York, and is both a Tisch Rabbinical and Wexner Graduate Fellow.