Celebrating 80 Years of Philanthropy

Posted on Nov 24, 2021

Torah Fund is going to celebrate its 80th anniversary! Rita Wertlieb, past international president of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism (WLCJ) and past international Torah Fund chair, and Margie Miller, past international president of WLCJ, will co-chair our 80th anniversary celebration. 

Our sages wrote that eighty is the age of strength (Perkei Avot 5:23).  Rabbi Debora Kohn, who studied at Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano, wrote that the strength of eighty is the wisdom that comes from experience. The strength of Torah Fund comes from the wisdom and experience of the leaders of Women’s League and its affiliates/sisterhoods.  Mathilde Schechter, founder and the first president of Women’s League and her contemporaries, hosted and fed seminary students and secured the funding for a dormitory at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). Dora Spiegel, president of Women’s League from 1928 to 1944, and her colleagues began Torah Fund in 1942. They combined the Seminary Dormitory and Scholarship funds that would enable rabbinical students to study full-time. Each member of Women’s League was asked to contribute $6.11 annually, the Hebrew numerical equivalent of the word Torah. 

Over the years, funds were raised to support the training of Conservative/Masorti professionals at Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Schechter Institutes, Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano, and Zacharias Frankel College, in addition to JTS. Residence halls were built, a sculpture garden was dedicated, a library reading room was transformed into the Women’s League Seminary Synagogue, and special scholarship projects were launched. 

The work of Torah Fund is guided by Women’s League leaders; it is accomplished by our affiliate/sisterhood members in Conservative/Masorti synagogues across North America.  In this issue of Chadashot, please read about one very special volunteer, Clara Creditor. Women such as Clara encourage all of us to be generous in our support of Conservative Jewish education. 

As Chanukah approaches, let us rededicate ourselves to the support of our five global institutions of higher Jewish learning. For eighty years, we–the women of Conservative synagogues across North America–have used our wisdom and experience to raise the funds that support facilities, programming, and scholarships for Conservative/Masorti future professional leaders. Thank you for your dedication and support of Torah Fund. Happy 80th Anniversary! Happy Chanukah! 

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