Linda Shohet

Sisterhood Co-President

Are Sisterhoods still relevant in 2017, and if so, what is their purpose and role in a large Conservative congregation that calls itself egalitarian? While many have closed their doors in synagogues across the United States and Canada, others have developed dynamic new structures that engage their members across generations.  

Volunteering to serve this year as co-President, with Eleanor Diamond, of the Shaare Zion Sisterhood, I have cast my ballot for relevance. We plan to contact as many members as possible to explore what you want and expect from a Sisterhood and to collaborate on crafting a renewed agenda that responds to those expectations. From early conversations, I have already found an interest in women’s Jewish learning, and we have started a consultation process to design a women’s study circle that may explore texts, themes and issues -- historical and contemporary.  

I bring experience and passion to the challenge.  After completing a doctorate in English Literature with a thesis on The Impact of the Holocaust on Canadian Jewish Writing, I taught, wrote, and reviewed fiction for more than thirty years. In a parallel career, I founded and ran The Centre for Literacy, a national not-for-profit research and resource centre on adult literacy and learning from 1989-2015. It did ground-breaking work on health literacy, the intersection of health communication and the capacity of adults to understand. In that context, I wrote the first accredited Continuing Medical Education course to introduce health literacy to Canadian physicians.

Working through consultation and collaboration, I have had the rare experience of simultaneously meeting the most marginalized and vulnerable of people and the most educated and powerful. It has challenged every assumption I ever had and taught me to look for possibility in unexpected places. I bring that willingness to challenge assumptions to the task of redefining the Shaare Zion Sisterhood.

Wishing the entire Shaare Zion family a sweet, healthy and happy New Year.