WRJ/Beth Israel Sisterhood

WRJ/Beth Israel Sisterhood

WRJ/Beth Israel Sisterhood 


At Congregation Beth Israel, WRJ/Beth Israel Sisterhood’s mission is to bring women together to support and benefit Congregation Beth Israel and the community by providing opportunities for friendship, service, spiritual growth, and learning.

Coming Soon

Chanukah Care Packages

Each year, the WRJ/Beth Israel Sisterhood sends care packages for Chanukah and Purim to the children of CBI members in USA-based colleges, graduate schools, professional schools, gap years, or military service.

Email Virginia Gitter with your student’s name, email, phone number, and permission to include them in this year’s directory, then let them know they can look forward to a Chanukah gift from home, complete with cocoa, dreidels, gelt, a note from Rabbi Cahana, and a directory so they can keep in touch with their CBI friends!

Packages go out December 3.

Chanukah White Elephant Gift Exchange and Wine Tasting
Thursday, December 15, 6:30 PM
Ford Building (2505 SE 11th at Division Street)

Celebrate Chanukah Sisterhood style at our annual gift exchange. Always a highlight of our calendar, this year we will gather at the historic Ford Building, and enjoy it’s high ceilings and huge windows.

Dignity Grows Period Product Packing Party
Sunday, November 20, 3:00 PM
Neveh Shalom (2900 SW Peaceful Lane)

Join a multi-Sisterhood Dignity Grows period product packing party at Neveh Shalom. Log in and sign up on the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s website at www.jewishportland.org/dignity-grows-event-sign-up.

Connect With Sisterhood

Want to be up-to-the-minute with all things Sisterhood? Read on, or click one of the buttons below.

Sisterhood Leadership

Susan Berniker – President
Ellen Zellinger – Vice President & Membership Co-Chair
Shoshanna Lansberg – Immediate Past President & Religious Programming
Michael Richman – Corresponding Secretary
Rita Effros – Recording Secretary
Rachel Segal – Treasurer
Vacant Vacant – Parliamentarian
Rose Marshall – Communications
Ellen Bick – Emerita
Kathleen Doctor – Emerita
Melissa Himmelman – Fundraising Co-chair
Michelle Shari Kruss – Fundraising  Co-chair
Erica Weinstein – Fundraising Co-chair
Bonnie Barg – Gift Shop
Deborah Levine – Membership  Co-chair
Rhonda Daniels – Membership Committee
Karen Stavis – Programming   Co-chair
Nadine Block – Programming Co-chair
Debbie Braymer – Volunteer Coordinator
Virginia Gitter – College Outreach Co-chair
Leslie Berman – College Outreach Co-chair
Judy Stone – Gift Shop Treasurer

Cantor Ida Rae Cahana – Clergy Liaison

Current open positions include Community Seder and Rosh Hashanah Reception Chairs.

President’s Message | November 2022


Shalom. I’m writing this on Election Day: a good time to mention that leaders of Sisterhood’s newly invigorated social action and advocacy team are busy planning projects for the year. It’s a great time to get involved. Please email me to join us in our mission to be the change we wish to see in the world. 


Our mindful challah-baking event was well attended, and I was pleased to see so many new faces at this fall quarterly gathering. Toda raba to Michelle-Shari Kruss for organizing this big undertaking. We will continue to offer fresh programming, along with tried and true events, throughout the year. Our board is enthusiastic and learning along the way. We’d love to get your feedback and thoughts for future events. 


If you’d like to find out more about the connection between mindfulness and making challah, head to the gift shop to purchase a signed copy of Beth Ricanati’s book, Braided: A Journey of a Thousand Challahs. The gift shop is open once again on Sundays! 


Let’s heed Beth’s words as we head into the holiday season, and intentionally go slow to move forward. Stop and smell the challah! 





Susan Berniker, President

D’var Torah | November 2022

Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1-3)

And the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, and [you shall] be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you.”


In the opening verses of this week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, we watch as God calls to Avram and tells him to leave the only life and home that he had ever known and to go out to an unknown land fraught with dangers, famine, and personal challenges. 

He must have been scared and stressed about whether he was the right man for the job, worried about where he was going and what he would need to do to ensure a positive future. Much like many of us have felt navigating a very uncertain world during the last three years of COVID and now an unknown winter season. How much of our days are spent, much like Avram trying to predict, figure out or gain control of what we simply cannot anticipate?

Our incredible guest speaker Beth Ricanati’s book, called “Braided” implores us to learn from our history and try to find, despite all that noise and all our daily demands, that special moment once a week, to bake a challah and just be and accept what is rather then worry about what might or should be.

When we cook, all too often our minds start to wander. We quickly become distracted by our thoughts and feelings—perhaps by our inner dialogue, as well.

Beth points out that cooking provides an excellent teaching moment to train our minds to be more present and aware. From gathering our ingredients to baking our bread and even eating the finished product, mindful cooking can be a much- needed restorative meditative experience.

It is basically a chance to slow down, clear our minds, and focus on the task at hand.

Did Avram pause long enough to realize that he was about to embark on not just a physical journey but a spiritual one as well? A hint of this journey inward is found in the words with which God addresses Avraham: Lech Lecha. The word “lech” means “go.” “Lecha,” seemingly extraneous in sending a person on a physical journey, means “to yourself.”

This parshah invites us to ask ourselves: what journey do I need to go on? What is my journey inward? What aspirations do I have for myself? What possibilities have I yet to imagine for myself?

This are certainly big questions.—questions we probably feel we have no time to think about. But what Avram and Beth are suggesting is that we should. 

The parshah and Beth’s suggestion of taking the time once a week to just be invites us to think about what we need to do to open ourselves to the voice that says, “Get up and go to yourself.” May we hear that voice and have the courage to listen.

–Michelle-Shari Kruss