Hebrew Union College is proud to join with Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) to celebrate the achievements of members of our community at the 2022 WRJ Women’s Empowerment Awards. The Awards honor those who strengthen the voices of others, empower women, and promote progressive Jewish values. Award recipients include Isabel “Liz” Dunst, a member of the HUC Board of Governors; Eliana Rubin, a student in HUC’s School of Education; and HUC alum Rabbi Susan Shankman ‘01. WRJ will also honor its Executive Director, HUC alum Rabbi Marla Feldman ‘85, for twenty years of dedication, leadership, and advocacy within the Reform Movement.
Isabel “Liz” Dunst (she/her) is a member of Temple Sinai Women of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C. and is an honored recipient of their Women of the Year award. Isabel is a champion of social justice, encouraging action through her sisterhood and her work on URJ’s North American Board, the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, and more. She uplifts the efforts of others and inspires the next generation to step up with her while actively supporting the initiatives that mean the most to her, particularly through her work with the Religious Action Center.
Liz says, “I am honored to be recognized, along with a number of other distinguished awardees, for my efforts to empower the next generation of leaders. And this is just what we do at HUC, create the opportunity for students to grow and learn to be the Jewish leaders of today and tomorrow.”
Eliana Rubin (they/she) has been involved in the Reform Movement since 2018 as a Theatre Arts Mentor at URJ’s 6 Points Creative Arts Academy and a member of the JewV’Nation LGBTQ+ Fellowship Cohort. They also participated in the Klal Yisrael Fellowship, worked with Moving Traditions, and are currently completing their master’s degree in educational leadership at HUC. Eliana is an openly trans-advocate and ally in a variety of Jewish and LGBTQ+ spaces, and their presence both affirms other trans individuals and helps Reform communities be places of belonging for Jews from a wide range of marginalized and often underrepresented backgrounds.
Eliana explains, “Being awarded the Women’s Empowerment Award is such an honor. As I’ve become more involved in the Jewish professional world, I’ve learned how to use my voice for good within these spaces. I’m grateful for my time at HUC, specifically within the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, where I have been encouraged to use my voice as a trans woman to make positive changes in my communities. I look forward to continuing to help Jewish women (especially Jewish trans women and non-binary femmes) to trust themselves enough to know that their voices are important and deserve to be respected and heard.”
Rabbi Susan Shankman (she/her) has been a rabbi and community leader at Washington Hebrew Congregation for over 20 years. She has positively affected the Reform movement from serving as a leader in her congregation and spearheading support groups to uplifting the wider community, working with CCAR, JWI, HUC, URJ-Harlam, and more. Beyond that, Rabbi Shankman has advocated for civil rights, starting a SEA Change coalition (Study, Engage, Act), worked with Every Voice to get out the vote, and co-hosts “Sister Act Podcast,” a weekly interfaith conversation between a Jewish, Muslim, and Christian woman.
Rabbi Marla Feldman is marking ten years as the Executive Director of WRJ and twenty years as a leader in the Reform Movement. She has been with WRJ since 2012, having previously served as the Director of Development for the URJ and Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. Rabbi Feldman is a Reform rabbi, ordained at HUC in New York and lawyer who earned her JD at the University of Florida. Previously, Rabbi Feldman worked in the Jewish community relations field in Detroit and Delaware and served Reform congregations in Sarasota and Orlando, Florida. Rabbi Feldman has authored Reform Movement action manuals and published modern midrash, and her articles have appeared in numerous publications and newspapers.
Rabbi Feldman shares, “I feel honored to be recognized by WRJ during our upcoming WRJ Women’s Empowerment Awards event for twenty years of work with the Reform Movement, ten of which have been with WRJ. I feel blessed to be able to devote my time and energy to such meaningful pursuits. It has been a privilege to work with my amazing colleagues and our wonderful lay leaders who make it a joy to come to work each day. The education I received during my studies at HUC, and the generous support of many inspirational mentors over the years, provided a strong foundation for success throughout my career. I feel an immense sense of gratitude to the many companions who have joined me on my professional journey.”
WRJ is dedicated to celebrating the power of women and helping women discover and raise their voices for social good. To learn more about the Awards celebration on May 13, 2022, and to meet all honorees, click here.