Access and Provenance

Institutional Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Box and Folder Listing

A Finding Aid to the

Women of Reform Judaism, District 20 Records

Manuscript Collection No. 769

1922-2008. 6 Linear ft.


The Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), District 20 Records were donated to the American Jewish Archives by Dottie Resnick of Denver, Colorado on October 1, 2008. Part of the collection had previously been gifted to the Ira M. Beck Memorial Archives of Rocky Mountain Jewish History in 2006. At the request of Ms. Resnick, these items were made a part of the gift received by the American Jewish Archives in 2008.

Dottie Resnick, by the act of donating the Women of Reform Judaism, District 20 Records to the American Jewish Archives, assigned the property rights to the American Jewish Archives. All literary rights to material authored by the Women of Reform Judaism, District 20 are held by their heirs. All literary rights to materials authored by others are retained by the individuals and their heirs. Questions concerning rights should be addressed to the Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives.

The Women of Reform Judaism, District 20 Records are open to all users. The original manuscript collection is available in the reading room of the American Jewish Archives.


The “Women of Reform Judaism” organization was first known as the "National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods" (NFTS). It was under this guise that District 20 was first formed in 1922, by women from Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri. Its purpose, as stated by the organization’s first president, was to actively promote “attendance at Divine Services, and the necessity of overcoming apathy toward the ideals of Judaism.”

By 1951, the states of Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico had joined District 20. It is deserving of mention that Nelson Glueck was the keynote speaker at the 1951 Biennial Convention in St. Joseph, Missouri. Conventions were valuable in that they allowed members to share ideas, and provided the opportunity for them to worship together as Jews. In 1968, 26 Sisterhoods belonged to District 20.

Connie Kreshtool, of NFTS Headquarters, spoke at the District 20 convention in 1980. Her speech certainly began auspiciously, with the words, “These are the happiest times in our Sisterhood and in our community.” Volunteerism was discussed at this same meeting, with the realistic observation that volunteers had become harder to come by with more women joining the work force. Another speaker, Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, addressed the subject of women entering the political arena.

Staying aware and staying involved - Jewishly, politically, and socially - were constants of NFTS conventions. The Diamond Jubilee celebration in 1987 featured workshops, speakers, and services, with a focus on religious freedom. Based upon suggestions gathered at the previous Biennial, the 1996 convention offered more discussion about Sisterhood, and additional time for learning about the various Sisterhoods in the district. Declining membership was a serious issue, and by the 2006 Convention, it had become the top priority. Despite a number of good ideas for retaining and growing membership, it continued to decline, and by 2008, District 20 had disbanded, various member states merging with other districts.

Related AJA Collections

Women of Reform Judaism Records, MS-73 (National Organization). Finding aid.

Women of Reform Judaism, District 3 Records, MS-689. Finding aid.

Women of Reform Judaism, District 10 Records, MS-63. Finding aid.

National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods Nearprint Special Topis File.

Women of Reform Judaism Photograph File, PC-4789.

Additional collections related to the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods and the Women of Reform Judaism can be found by conducting a search in the online catalog.


The Women of Reform Judaism, District 20 Records consist of convention scrapbooks, scrapbooks of newspaper articles, convention-planning documents, bulletins, correspondence, publicity, and photographs, notebooks containing meeting minutes, WRJ publications, videos and CDs. They are arranged chronologically, except for Subseries 1 of Series B, which is arranged by subject, and Series D and E, which were cataloged in original order. The collection has been arranged into five series:

Series A. District History and Conventions. 1922-2008.
Series B. Publications.  1981-2006.
	Subseries 1. By Subject.  1985-2006.
	Subseries 2. By Publication.  1981-2005
Series C. Awards.  1983-2005.
Series D. Miscellaneous.  1987-2004.
Series E. Audiovisual.  1988-2006.
	Subseries 1. CDs.  2003-2006.
	Subseries 2. Videotapes.  1988-2001.

Series A: District History and Conventions. Scrapbooks and notebooks constitute a good portion of Series A. The two unfoldered notebooks in Box 1 tell of NFTS’s beginnings, as does the Historian’s Scrapbook in Box 2, and are an excellent source of historical information. All scrapbooks are labeled to accommodate removal from boxes. Scrapbooks which were too large to fit into a regular Hollinger box are stored in oversized-boxes X-539-541.

Series B. Publications. This series is divided into two subseries, subject and chronological files. The first is arranged by subject matter within each box, and the second is arranged by publication date within each box. Box 10 contains material having to do with women’s and children’s issues. A way in which to address these issues is summed up in the contents of folder 5, concerning the creation of a Critical Issues Task Force. The publications in Boxes 11-13 treat issues individually, and include the subject of religious study and worship. The majority of the items in this series were published by Women of Reform Judaism.

Series C. Awards. This series documents awards. Two of the important awards given at conventions were the Book of Numbers Award (increase in membership) and the Or Ami Award (programming); sustaining and growing membership was always a matter of high interest for this region, since it is not densely populated with Jewish people.

Series D. Miscellaneous. Within this series, subjects include the District History Program, Musical Scripts, and Holiday Services.

Series E. This series is divided into two subseries: CDs 532-534 and Videotapes 844-852. The CDs are all recordings of later WRJ conventions, whereas the content of the videotapes varies widely.


Box	Folder	Contents

SERIES A.  District History and Conventions.  1922-2008.

1	1	Disposition of records.  1989-2008.
	2	National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, District 20.  Convention Minutes.  Inc.
		Constitution and minutes of first organization meeting, 1922.  1922-1941.
	3	National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, District 20.  Executive Board Meeting Minutes 
		and convention minutes, inc. Presidential addresses and correspondence.  1922-1945.
	4	National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods.  Presidents’
		Messages and Miscellaneous.  1949-1987.
	5	National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods.  Presidents’
		Messages and Miscellaneous.  1949-1987.

2	1	Historian’s scrapbook.  1941-1974.  Inc. information sheet  re: conventions 1 - 29, 1922-1972;
		by-laws, historian reports, convention documentation, narrative history of district, service
		to the blind, list of presidents.

3	1	Notebook.  Meeting minutes, committee report.  1945-1949.
	2	Notebook.  Convention.  Omaha.  1955.
	3	Notebook.  Conventions.  1970, 1972, 1974.

4	1	Notebook.  Conventions.  1976, 1978.
	2	Notebook.  Conventions.  1980, 1982, 1984.	 		
	3	Biennial Conventions.  1984-1988.  Taken from notebook divided into
	4	Biennial Conventions.  1984-1988.  Taken from notebook divided into

5	1	Scrapbook pages.  Biennial Convention.  Chicago.  1987.
	2	Executive Board Minutes.  1987-2003.
	3	Biennial Convention.  1992.
	4	Biennial Convention.  1994.
	5	Interim Board Meeting.  St. Joseph, Mo.  1995.  Inc. photographs.
	6	Convention.  Denver.  1996.
	7	Biennial Convention.  Overland Park, Kansas.  2003.
	8	Membership Campaign.  Leadership Development.  Intentional Listening.
		Shabbat Services.  2006.

6	1	Scrapbook.  1990-1998.

7	1	Annual Reports by officers.  1990-1996, 2003.			
	2	Biennial Board Meetings.  Publicity, agendas, etc.  1995-2001.
	3	Bylaws.  1976-2000.
	4	Procedure Manual.  1983.  Revised, 1986.

8	1	Scrapbook.  1998-2003.
9	1	Scrapbook.  2003-2005		
	2	Convention.  Denver.  2006.

X-539		Scrapbook.  1968 - 1970.
		Scrapbook.  1973 - 1984.
		Scrapbook.  2005 - 2007.
		Scrapbook.  N.d., 1988-1990.

X-540		Scrapbook.  1960-1968.
		Scrapbook.  1963-1966.
		Notebook.  Minutes, programs, pictures, conventions.  1951-1966.

X-541		Scrapbook.  1968-1970, plus older found items.
		Scrapbook.  N.d., 1959, 1960, 1947, 1951, convention
		programs 1965 - 1971, 1982 -1988.
		District 20 scrapbook.  1956-1960.
		District 20 scrapbook.  Conventions, 1970-2006.

SERIES B.  Publications.  1981-2006.

   Subseries 1.  By Subject.  1985-2006.

10	1	Beginning the Journey: A Women’s Commentary on Torah.  1985.
		The Torah: A Women’s Commentary.  2006
		Finding Our Way: The Study and Resource Guide for Beginning
		The Journey Toward a Women’s Commentary on Torah.  N.d.
	2	Spousal Abuse in Rabbinic and Contemporary Judaism.  By Rabbi
		Julie Ringold Spitzer.  1985.
		When Love is Not Enough: Spousal Abuse in Rabbinic and Contemporary
		Judaism.  By Rabbi Julie Ringold Spitzer.  1995.
	3	The Mitzvah of Membership: A Guide to Successful Membership
		Campaigns.  1998.  Inc. Ice Breakers: An Addendum to The Mitzvah of
		Membership, and More About The Mitzvah of Membership: An Addendum for a Successful Membership
	4	Write the Vision: Creating Communities of Shalom for All Children.  Children’s
		Defense Fund.  2001
		2001 Children in the States.  Children’s Defense Fund.		
		Hold My Hand: Prayers for Building a Movement to Leave No Child Behind.  By Marian
		Wright Edelman.  2001.
		Background Materials on Key Sections of The Act to Leave No Child
		Behind.  By Senator Christopher Dodd and Rep. George Miller.  2001.
		2001 The State of America’s Children.  Children’s Defense Fund.
	5	To Do Justly: Creating a Critical Issues Task Force.  1999.

   Subseries 2.  By Publication.  1981-2005.

11	1	Hunger: At Home and Abroad.  A Guide to Jewish Study and Action.  Comes with
		instruction manual.  By Marjorie Yudkin.  1981
	2	From Tzedek to Tzedakah: Economic and Social Issues of Concern for Women and Children.
		By Rabbi Marla J. Feldman.  1985.
	3	Let’s Talk Shop: Your Sisterhood Judaica Shop.  1986.
	4	Wisdom You Are My Sister: 25 Years of Women in the Rabbinate.        
		CCAR Journal. Summer 1997.
	5	Covenant of the Soul: News Prayers, Poems and Meditations from the Women of Reform Judaism
		.  2000.
	6	Come Into God’s Presence with Singing!  Worship Music Guidelines for
		Small Congregations.  2001.
	7	Parashat HaShavua: The Weekly Torah Portion.  Parashat Vayeira.  The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Study
		Guide.  2005.
	8	Stop the Violence!  N.d.
	9	Litapayach Tikvah To Nourish Hope.   Eating Disorders: Perceptions and Perspectives in 
		Jewish Life Today.  N.d.
	10	Women of Reform Judaism at the United Nations: Tikkun Olam - Healing the World UN Task
		Force at Work.  N.d.
	11	Fundraising Fundamentals.  N.d.
12	1	In the Beginning: The Jewish Baby Book.  By Naomi Patz and Jane Perman.  1983. 
	2	D’var Torah Study Packets.  1988, 1990 
	3	Seven Blessings: Our Jewish Wedding Book.  By Susan Marks and Bruce Black.  1997.
	4	Jewish Women’s Voices from the Past.  1998
	5	Holiday Study Guides.
	6	Holiday Study Guides.
	7	Holiday Study Guides.
	8	WRJ Souvenirs.
	9	Pictures of WRJ artifacts.
13	1	In Pursuit of Justice: Resolutions and Policy Statements.  1998.
	2	The Mitzvah of Caring: Creating a Caring Community in your Sisterhood 
		And Congregation.  Caring Community Task Force.  1998.
	3	Earth and Faith: A Book of Reflection for Action.  Interfaith Partnership
		For the Environment.  2000.
	4	Repairing Our World from the Inside Out: A Three-Session Adult Education Program on Jewish
		Ethics.  Facilitator’s Guide and Student 
		Workbook.  By Michelle Shapiro Abraham, R.J.E.  Based on the work by Rabbi Jan Katzew.  2002.
	5	Visiting Miriam’s Well: A Study Guide.  2003.
	6	Outreach Families in the Sacred Common: Congregational Responses to
		Interfaith Issues.  Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis
		University.  N.d.
	7	The Symbols of our Seasons.  “Tour of Living Judaism” Series.  Sisterhood, Temple
		Congregation B’nai Jehudah, Kansas City, Mo.  N.d.
	8	Staying in Touch.  By Glynis Conyer.  N.d.
SERIES C.  Awards.  1983-2005.

14	1	Or Ami: Light of My People Award For Excellence in Sisterhood
		Programming.  1983-2005.
	2	Awards.  District 20 winners.  1984-1998. 
	3	Awards.  Youth Groups.  1990, 1992.
	4	Book of Honors.  1995-2005.  
15  	1	Book of Numbers Awards - entries.  1996.
	2	Application for “Caring is Catching” Award.  1998.
	3	Application for Or Ami Award.  1999.
	4	Awards.  “Caring is Catching.”  Various dates.

SERIES D.  Miscellaneous.  1987-2004.

	5	District History Program.  1987.
	6	Musical Scripts.  1994, 2004.
 	7	District website.  2003.
	8	Emails, cards.  2001, 2003, n.d.
	9	Member biographies.  1996.
	10	Sisterhood Leadership Conference.  Blessing.  2006.
	11	D’var Torah.  1991, 1997.
	12	Holiday Services/Seders.  N.d.
	13	Rosh Chodesh Shabbat Services.  1997-2001, n.d.
SERIES E.  Audiovisual.  1988-2006.

   Subseries 1.  Compact Discs.
CD-532	Women of Reform Judaism, District 20.  2003.
CD-533	Women of Reform Judaism, District 20 Final Convention.  2006.
CD-534	Women of Reform Judaism, District 20 Biennial Convention.  2005

   Subseries 2.  Videotapes.
VT-844	Siyum Ceremony.  2001.
VT-845	Caring for Children, Caring for Creation.  2001.
VT-846	Women of Reform Judaism: Determination, Vision, Idealism.  1998.
VT-847	President’s Message.  1988.
VT-848	Touching Lives ... say YES.  1999.
VT-849	Panel Discussion on Medical Marijuana.
VT-850	Archives of Interviews, Part 1.
VT-851	Archives of Interviews, Part 2.
VT-852	L’Dor V’Dor, The Sisterhood of Congregation Emanuel.
Copyright © 2009 Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives