The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
At a women’s retreat sponsored by Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, VA, Cory Amron, attorney and president of Women Lawyers On Guard, and Beth Singer, principal of Beth Singer Design, designed a potent social action experience for attendees. The group wrote individual letters of support and encouragement to victims of unthinkable events, and also people who are fighting the good fight. They wrote to fire fighters in California, to the Tree of Life Synagogue community, to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Parkland families, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and our Muslim brothers and sisters in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“Harnessing the power of being ‘alone together,’ we felt the power of words to give courage, to reassure recipients they are not alone, to keep going; to be tenacious,” said Anita Thornton, organizer of the retreat and a participant at the session.
“We assume people are well thanked and may not need our encouragement, or we are just too busy to slow down and personally reach out. But when you offer words of personal support or thank them unexpectedly, you have the power to change people’s perspective or give them strength and courage,” says Cory.
It is a Jewish tradition to thank and praise God: Modim Anachnu Lach. Mishkan T’filah, the Reform Siddur, contains a contemporary version of this “We Thank You” prayer, and we read a couple of verses to inspire and bring a Jewish context to our efforts:
“For all who have labored and suffered for a fairer world, who have lived so that others might live in dignity and freedom, Modim Anachnu Lach.”
Cory opened up the program explaining its intent and genesis: to express gratitude and encouragement. We asked participants to read aloud two remarkable, compassionate and encouraging, letters—one from Bill Clinton and one from Barack Obama. We supplied addresses and background for 10 possible recipients, as well as specially designed stationery by Beth Singer Design, and brightly colored envelopes and stamps. We also encouraged the participants to post their letters on social media (and permit the Temple to do the same), to “give our words wings.”
“I sat together in a group of women, alone in my thoughts. I wrote my letter to the families of victims from the terror attacks at the New Zealand mosques. I told them the whole world weeps for them, and that most of us on the planet abhor violence in the name of bigotry and racism. I shed some tears as I wrote, and I saw that other women around me were crying as they wrote their letters too,” says Beth.
The world is in rough shape nowadays. The news cycles make us feel continually helpless. It’s hard not to feel like a frustrated bystander. But LOVE LETTERS provides a way to express feelings and to lift up recipients around the world with heartfelt encouragement.
We can magnify the positive in this negative world, be heard, make a connection, become a participant instead of a spectator, and have a communal experience that is remarkable both alone and together.
Want to take LOVE LETTERS to your synagogue or community? Download materials to get started, including a program script, list of recipients, and stationery for writing the letters. Contact Cory Amron (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Beth Singer (email@example.com) with questions.
Beth Singer is Principal of Beth Singer Design, a digital and print communications firm in Arlington, VA, where she services nonprofit clients primarily in the Jewish and pro-Israel community. She actively volunteers at her synagogue and in public schools to teach "design thinking" to kids, and in her professional association, American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), where she served on the national board and chaired initiatives in education, philanthropy, and student scholarships. Cory Amron is President of Women Lawyers On Guard, a non-profit network of men and women advocating for equality and justice. Recently retired as an intellectual property partner from Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, she has actively worked on women’s and diversity issues as well as education of the public on the law and legal issues throughout her nearly 40 year legal career. She is co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, VA.