If the men can do it — hold a gala gathering to honor their annual Men of the Year — why not the women? In discussions last year, Jennifer Bullock of Metuchen put that question to Ilene Rothman, president of the Garden State Region of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism — and thus was born the idea for the Chai Tea.
Around 300 women came to the event on June 2 to honor not one but 14 Women of Achievement from participating Conservative synagogue sisterhoods across New Jersey. They came from as far north as Teaneck and as far south as Highland Park for the “tea” — actually a light dinner — at Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael in Springfield.
Rothman described the Chai Tea as a way, “in the spirit of giving and fellowship, to express appreciation. Some 36 sisterhoods had been invited to participate; 14 nominated honorees, and each came with a contingent of supporters. Those 14 were presented with certificates and a gift and a copy of the book by Women’s League education director Lisa Kogen, Strength and Splendor: Jewish Women as Agents of Change.
“And for each one, the president or a representative of her group described the dedication to sisterhood, synagogue, and community that earned her this recognition.”
Perhaps the longest-serving member among them was Mollie Sperling of Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim in Cranford, who has been a sisterhood member for 50 years.
The men also had representation; Elliott Brown, incoming executive vice president of the 2,000-member Northern NJ Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, paid tribute to what the women achieve, saying, “We truly are partners.”
The event also served as a fund-raiser for one of the WLCJ’s most cherished projects, Women’s League Torah Fund, which supports the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires, Argentina.