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Women of Reform Judaism District #4
(District 4 was started as the New Jersey Federation of Temple Sisterhoods)

District 4 was established in the 1940’s.  The role of District 4 was to support and foster the sisterhoods in the district through workshops and biennials. District 4 had a proud history of supporting district sisterhoods, Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) programs and initiatives, Reform Jewish Youth, and the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ).  District 4 was a member of the Union for Reform Judaism’s New Jersey-West Hudson Valley Council.

District 4’s biennials were focused on programs and study sessions that benefited sisterhoods, as well as the individual women of District 4.  Leadership Development, Sisterhood Mission Statements, Membership Growth, Programming, Fund Raising, Women’s Health Care, Shabbat Worship, and Meaningful Rituals were a few of the workshops offered by District 4 through the years.

District 4 supported the URJ’s youth programming with donations to Camp Harlam, and Camp Kutz.  District 4 was a continuous supporter of the North American Federation of Temple Youth – Garden Empire Region (NFTY-GER) Summer Mitzvah Corps Program, since Mitzvah Corps began in the 1980’s

District 4 supported Women’s Health Education, contributed to Breast Cancer Research, and to the NJ Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights.

District 4 supported WRJ’s Founders Endowment Fund, the Fund for the Generations, the Speakers Bureau, the YES Fund, the Jewish Braille Institute of America, and the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

Women of Reform Judaism District #5
(formerly The Pennsylvania Federation of Temple Sisterhoods)

The Pennsylvania Federation of Temple Sisterhoods was formed in 1918 to promote the objectives of NFTS (National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods), to bring the various Sisterhoods of Pennsylvania into closer cooperation and association with one another and to further new lines of services.

In 1918, twenty Sisterhoods met in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to discuss the feasibility of forming an organization of Sisterhoods of the Reform Movement in Pennsylvania. This discussion led to a meeting in 1919 in Philadelphia for the purpose of forming a Federation of (Reform) Sisterhoods in the Commonwealth. Mrs. Ferdinand Dilsheimer was elected temporary President at that meeting and was subsequently elected the first President of the Pennsylvania Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (PFTS) at the first Biennial Assembly in 1921 in Pittsburgh.  Since Jewish youth were  a primary concern of PFTS, it was logical for them to establish a specific program in this field.

PFTS thus became a pioneer in the movement to sponsor youth groups; with the first youth group, called PIFTY, being founded in Harrisburg in 1937. PIFTY was known, according to Rabbi Samuel Cook, UAHC Director of Youth Activities, “as the child of PFTS.”

In Philadelphia, about the time the first Youth Group was organized, Rabbi Cook became the Assistant Rabbi at Temple Keneseth Israel and Rabbi Eugene Sack became the Assistant Rabbi at Temple Rodeph Shalom. In Rabbi Cook’s previous position at the University of Alabama, he became interested in the Retreats of the Methodist Church for their youth. Simultaneously, Rabbi Sack was in Topeka, Kansas and had studied similar conclave be held by the Christian youth groups. Both Rabbis were eager to bring this type of program to the Jewish youth of the nation.

Mrs. Gertrude Freedman, President of PFTS during the time of the inception of the Youth Group program, was a tremendous source of encouragement to these pioneering Rabbis, not only as a representative of material assistance which was readily available from PFTS, but also as a guiding spirit and a driving force behind the program. In 1939, Mrs Freedman was appointed Chairman of the Youth Program for PFTS and led PFTS to appropriate the necessary funds for the first Reform Youth conclave held at Pinemere Camp in the Poconos over Labor Day weekend. The conclave, headed by Rabbis Cook and Sack, was intended to bring Jewish youth together to hear and learn the message of Reform Judaism from experienced Rabbis and teachers.

Publication of the state newsletter, “Keystone Topics”, was begun in 1947 during the presidency of Mrs. Carl M. Bachrach. Other important PFTS programs included: Service to the Blind; the promotion of study groups; the encouragement of Temple attendance; the use of religious ceremonial objects in the home, the collection of ceremonial objects for Temple exhibits, Speakers Bureau, etc.

By 1951, there were 29 affiliated Sisterhoods in the Commonwealth.  At that time, while Mrs. Daniel Bernheim was president, Harrisburg was chosen as the permanent site for

Interim Board Meetings. Also in 1951, the dedication of the HOUSE OF LIVING JUDAISM in New York was held.  The sisterhoods of Allentown and Wilkes-Barre were the first in the United States to meet their quotas for this project.

In 1957 all Sisterhoods of NFTS were realigned into district federations.  Pennsylvania Federation of Temple Sisterhoods became NFTS District #5 – PFTS. In 1963, with the inclusion of the Cherry Hill Sisterhood in New Jersey, NFTS District #5 became the official designation.  In 1999, with the addition of four New Jersey sisterhoods, there were a total of 39 affiliated sisterhoods. According to the by-laws of NFTS, Article 31, Section A, “The District Federations, which are subsidiaries of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, shall be constituted as service organizations on behalf of their member units and dedicated to the carrying forward to the program of NFTS.”

In 1960, NFTS District #5 – PFTS contributed to the building of the Jeanette Miriam Goldberg Faculty House at Camp Joseph and Betty Harlam.  A few years later NFTS District #5 contributed to the kitchen facilities for the Faculty House, presented a Torah, contributed $8,000.00 for the Teen Camp, and presented the Jewish Encyclopedia to the camp.


At the 5th Biennial Assembly in York (Mrs. Edgar W. Warner, nee Clarice Lavine, President) in 1929, Rabbi Nathan of Philadelphia, a visually handicapped Rabbi, addressed the Assembly concerning the situation prevalent among the Jewish youth at Penn State College.  Jewish boys did not want to have to fulfill the college’s mandatory requirement of attendance at religious services by attending Christian services.  Rabbi Nathan requested that, PFTS assume the responsibility of correcting the situation and arranging for Reform Rabbis in Pennsylvania to travel to Penn State College to conduct Jewish religious services and deliver religious lectures.  The 5th Biennial Assembly voted sufficient funds to pay the traveling expenses of Rabbis living within reasonable proximity of the college and authorized additional funds for equipment and maintenance of a meeting place.

At the 7th Biennial Assembly in Scranton (Mrs. Max Grumbacher, President), Dr. Abram Sacher, National Executive Director of Hillel, was the keynote speaker.  Mrs. Grumbacher convinced him of the urgent need for a Hillel Chapter at Penn State College and Dr. Sacher agreed to initiate such a chapter. Hillel at Penn State was established in 1935.

In the interim, Jeannette Miriam Goldberg, an active PFTS member, from Temple Rodeph Shalom Sisterhood, Philadelphia, had passed away.  During her lifetime, Miss Goldberg had been greatly concerned with the welfare of Jewish youth.  Shortly after her death, while PFTS was looking for a fitting memorial to this dedicated woman, the director of Hillel at Penn State College, related the need for a rotating loan fund for Jewish students, and in 1936 the “Jeannette Miriam Goldberg Fund (JMG)” was established.  The fund was to be administered by the Hillel Director in cooperation with the PFTS Chairman of the Jeannette Miriam Goldberg Fund.  The use of this fund by Penn State College students continued until the early 1950’s when, according to the Director of Hillel, the need for such a student loan und was no longer necessary.

At that time, PFTS, voted to channel the fund into the recently established Camp Joseph and Betty Harlam at Kresgeville, Pennsylvania, for the purchase of needed permanent camp equipment.       Since then it has been the fund for permanent camp equipment and Pennsylvania Federation of Temple Youth (PAFTY) scholarships.  JMG is a special fund and consequently, contributions are not a part of the operating budget of NFTS District #5.

The use of Jeannette Miriam Goldberg funds extends to include the youth of NFTY and
NFTY-PAR Region.

District 5 consolidates with District 4 and becomes WRJ Atlantic District and the use of the Jeannette Miriam Goldberg Fund extends to Reform Judaism youth organizations within the entire district.

Past Presidents

District 4
Name Dates
Mrs. Florence Berman unknown
Mrs. Charles Cohn unknown
Mrs. Solomon Foster unknown
Mrs. Hildred Gross unknown
Mrs. Felix Hartheimer unknown
Mrs. Selma Kramer unknown
Mrs. Lillian Shaffer unknown
Mrs. Edward Siegelson unknown
Mrs. Maurice Thorner unknown
Mrs. Barnett Warner unknown
Mrs. Sylvan Heilbrunner 1956-1958
Mrs. Sylvia Zweben 1958-1960
Mrs. Bernard Freedman 1960-1964
Mrs. Madeline Felsenheld 1964-1966
Mrs. Fran Hyman 1966-1968
Mrs. Deenie Schlosser 1968-1970
Mrs. Barbara Goldstein 1970-1972
Mrs. Laura Singer 1972-1974
Mrs. Lee Cabot 1974-1976
Mrs. Margaret Rothschild 1976-1978
Mrs. Zelda Kahn 1978-1980
Mrs. Susan Winton 1980-1982
Mrs. Ami Opat 1982-1984
Mrs. Sheila Kasdan 1984-1986
Mrs. Toby Hanover 1986-1988
Mrs. Judith Dorfman 1988-1990
Mrs. Patricia Brakman 1990-1992
Mrs. Miriam Krieger 1992-1994
Mrs. Carol Press 1994-1996
Mrs. Joyce Portnoy 1996-1998
Mrs. Eileen Pangione 1998-2000
Mrs. Anita Tuber 2000-2002
Mrs. Laurel Stahl 2002-2004
Mrs. Jacqueline Bass 2004-2006
District 5
Mrs. Ferdinand Dilsheimer 1921-1923
Mrs. Marcus Saltzman 1923-1927
Mrs. Edward W. Warner 1927-1931
Mrs. Max Grumbacher 1931-1935
Mrs. Gertrude Freedman 1935-1939
Mrs. I. Valentine Levi 1939-1945
Mrs. Carl M. Bacharach 1945-1947
Mrs. Edward Schleisner 1947-1949
Mrs. Arthur Goldsmith 1949-1951
Mrs. Jean Benheim 1951-1955
Mrs. Barbara Casper 1955-1960
Mrs. Lillian Rosenberg 1960-1962
Mrs. Pearl Lehrman 1962-1966
Mrs. Lucille Wedner 1966-1968
Mrs. Gladys Penzur 1968-1972
Mrs. Ann Werner 1972-1974
Mrs. Sylvia Cooper 1974-1978
Mrs. Maxine Kallman 1978-1980
Mrs. Ida Rifkin 1980-1982
Mrs. Anne Gold 1982-1984
Mrs. Sandra Zionts 1984-1986
Mrs. Sandra Zionts 1984-1986
Mrs. Marcy Abraham 1986-1988
Mrs. Rosanne Selfon 1988-1990
Mrs. Goldie Katz 1990-1991
Mrs. Joan Frost 1991-1994
Mrs. Arlene Circus 1994-1996
Mrs. Lynn Magid Lazar 1996-1998
Mrs. Kareen Hartwig 1998-2000
Mrs. Sandy Glass 2000-2002
Mrs. Fern Herman 2002-2004
Mrs. Sharon Levy 2004-2006
Atlantic District
Ms. Joan L. Blum 2006-2008
Mrs. Marsha Malberg 2008-2010
Mrs. Debra Faye 2010-2012
Ms. Marcia Levaur 2012-2014