By Diane Kaplan
In the fall 1974 I had left the work force to await the arrival of our first child. It was an infant adoption and we didn’t have a date certain so I signed up for a daytime class being given by our Rabbi sponsored by sisterhood. I hadn’t really done anything with sisterhood before that time and when Josh arrived in November he attended the final classes with me.
That was the beginning. I really don’t remember what transpired but I began attending sisterhood meetings. Over the years I held most of the positions on the Executive Committee other than president, though asked, the timing was not right. I attended District Conventions and became active on the District Board and eventually the District Executive Committee on which I still serve.
In the spring of 1991, I received a mailing about a UAHC Kallah being held at Brandeis University. I grew up as what I like to call an ultra secular Jew. However, that class I had taken back in 1974 started me on the path of lifelong Jewish learning. I decided this event was just what I wanted to do.
So, off I went…alone. It was a wonderful 4 days of study. I had the opportunity to learn from many including Rabbi Elyse Frishman. I found a morah I still enjoy studying with and a friend. I didn’t however find most of the participants particularly friendly.
Saturday night I had the opportunity to do something I had always wanted to try. I took a papercutting workshop. It was a small group and I struck up a conversation with the woman sitting across from me. She was very friendly with a warm smile. She asked me where I was from, about my family and if I was involved in my sisterhood.
That conversation, over 20 years ago, changed my life. My interlocutor was Rosanne Selfon.
We found ourselves together when she visited my District Kallah and together we taught a papercutting class. Just as an aside one of our “students” was Bea Hollobow, of blessed memory, a Past President of NFTS.
Rosanne and I worked together on a UAHC committee and in a very short time we found that we were not just co-workers, we had become dear friends.
Around 2000, Rosanne urged me to apply to become a member of the NFTS Board of Directors. This is certainly not something I would have ever done if not for Rosanne. I am now in my 12th year, with a 4 year break, as a member of the WRJ Board.
The icing on my WRJ cake came in 2008 when WRJ President Rosanne Selfon asked me to serve as co-chair of Women of Reform Judaism’s Centennial. It seemed so far away back then!
Now here we are in the throes of our Centennial Celebration and the experiences I have had and the friendships I have made while serving on the WRJ Board, traveling to Israel on a WRJ mission and now serving as Centennial co-chair with Rosanne as Centennial Chair would never have happened if I hadn’t made the decision to go to that Kallah, alone, be open to a friendly conversation and follow the urgings of a dear friend. Don’t be afraid to take that first step alone if it is something you really want to do. Or, if you are already a leader, be that welcoming individual whether it is in a meeting at your own sisterhood or sitting in a workshop at a WRJ Assembly.
I hope each of you can have someone in your life who inspires and motivates you to be your best self, to do what you didn’t know could do and most of all someone you can laugh with. Friendship…it’s nothing short of amazing!
Diane Kaplan has been an active member of her local sisterhood, Temple Israel, Minneapolis, for the past 40 years and has served on both the Board and the Executive Committee in numerous capacities. She currently sits on the Executive Committee of her District. Diane is also a member of the Board of Directors of WRJ. She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the WRJ Centennial.