By Alessia Grunberger
More than 120 women attended the first Jewish Women’s Leadership Conference, an event focused on building professional and peer networks, cultivating women’s leadership and strengthening a strong sense of Jewish identity.
The Feb. 23 student-driven conference – which was hosted at the University’s Rosenbloom Hillel – offered female students numerous professional and skill-building workshops led by Jewish women in competitive fields.
Corrine Bernstein, a Hillel associate and conference creator, wanted an opportunity for students like this for a while. She wanted to create an opportunity for students to come together and share ideas about the advancement of women in the workforce through a Jewish lens.
Bernstein says the goal of this conference, in part, is to encourage women to think about how they are spending their time, and how they could incorporate Jewish values in whatever work they do.
Jewish female students who attended this conference felt a sense of empowerment after participating in workshops and networking with both professionals and fellow Terps.
“As a Jewish woman, I think I developed my personal leadership style and am generally now more passionate about the idea of Jewish female leadership in general,” said sophomore Julia Ring.
Some attendees have already put what they learned at the conference into practice. “The conference did give me some tangible tools that I have put been able to put into use already. For example, I was in the process of following up on a job offer for the summer and used what I learned in my ‘Negotiating Your Salary’ workshop to prepare myself beforehand,” said freshman Tamar Gasko.
“Every leader has the need and the potential to grow, and these workshops gave us those growing experiences. We can now go back to our peers, or go forward in our lives and say, ‘Here’s something I learned that will make this process better,’” added Gasko.
Bernstein wanted to provide networks and opportunities through the facilitators and professionals to Jewish female students. “All facilitators [who led the workshops] are involved in the Jewish community in some way, and they are invested in the future for Jewish women,” said Bernstein.
Bernstein saw the benefit of having professionals who are involved in the Jewish community attend this conference. To Bernstein, there is a shared understanding of what being a Jewish woman means.
“Even if you are not ritually observant, you can learn from those women in the fields and they can help you out because of that special connection,” said Bernstein. “The vast majority of the women in the room [at the conference] were not ritually observant. There are a lot of ways to be a Jewish woman. We are all in this together.”