The coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop our Section from making back-to-school shopping special for the families served by Homeless Solutions (HSI). There is often a lot of anxiety that comes with the first day of school. Imagine the additional stress if you were homeless. We started our Back 2 School Store four years ago, under the leadership of Kim Kramer, Kay Salzman, Karen Secular and Melanie Levitan. All our volunteers and supporters of the program remember how exciting it is for children to shop for new clothes, a new backpack and especially new sneakers! We wanted the children at HSI to experience that same joy while lessening the financial burden on their families.
Like so much else in our world these days, Diversity Day was done virtually this year, on Sunday, July 12. Sadly, we couldn’t be all together on the Morristown Green this year, but every participating organization made a video message. We released the whole video of...
The Back 2 School shopping event, sponsored by our Section, put a big smile on the face of students from 5 to 17 years old who are served by Homeless Solutions! The youngsters had a chance to get brand-new clothes and shoes for the upcoming year.
National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), West Morris Section, and Morristown Jewish Center–Beit Yisrael (MJCBY) recently co-sponsored a talk, titled “The Romani People: Europe’s Ancient South Asian Transplants,” presented at MJCBY. The talk was given by Morristown High School 11th-grader Sheetal Bangalore.
Our Section learned a great deal about the state of immigration at a recent Open Board Meeting, held at a member’s home. The guest speaker was Theresa Markila, standing, second from left, volunteer coordinator of Wind of the Spirit Immigration Resource Center in...
From Homeless Solutions: Our families were really feeling the financial pressure of getting their children ready to go back to school, so to not have to worry about purchasing new clothing and toiletries (which were delivered separately to HSI) really meant the...
Thanks to your support of the NCJW, West Morris Back 2 School Store, we had another terrific event in August at Morristown Jewish Center–Beit Yisrael (MJCBY). Schoolchildren who live in housing provided by Homeless Solutions, Inc., of Morristown had the opportunity to...
Many of us remember the excitement of having new clothes for a new school year. Thanks to NCJW, West Morris Section’s Back 2 School Store, almost 50 schoolchildren had that experience, too. The students ranged in age from 4 to 17 years old and all live in housing...
We harvested a whopping 8,000 pounds (4 tons) of tomatoes at our America’s Grow A Row Harvest Mitzvah Day! Among those participating in doing this mitzvah were Assia Moran; Susan Neigher; Lois, Lee and Sylas (age three) Dornfeld; Ulla Youry; Ilene Dorf Manahan; Alan...
There are so many stories behind all the people coming to the Interfaith Food Pantry. Kathy, a stay-at-home mom with three young children faced a real crisis when her husband decided to leave. With limited recent work experience and the need to work while her children in school, she began cleaning houses. She was struggling trying to make ends meet when one of her employers, a volunteer with the Interfaith Food Pantry, suggested coming to the Pantry. Kathy felt embarrassed to come on her own, so her employer made the appointment and came with her for the interview.
“One of the best things that ever happened to me was finding the Interfaith Food Pantry. I never felt uncomfortable coming here and they definitely did not make me feel like I was a charity case!” Kathy says the program gave her family the food they needed, which allowed her to use the little money she had to pay the rent. She was also able to get school supplies for her children from the “We’ve Got Your Back” program.
And then a light appeared at the end of her tunnel. She started working more and the courts granted her child support. She is now taking computer classes at County College of Morris and is planning to go back to school to finish her degree.
“I am so grateful the IFP was here for me during the year it took me to get back on my feet. If not for the Pantry, I never would have found out about the opportunities available for me at CCM. In the future, I hope to be the one who will be able to give back and help others!”
Clearly, your support and that of our many friends, was important in Kathy’s life, as it is for the many others we serve. We greatly appreciate your recent donation of 53 pounds of Back to School items, which will help us continue our work. Thank you for caring and reaching out!
With deep appreciation,
Help Us Harvest Produce for Those in Need —and Have a Great Time Doing It!
For the second year in a row, we’ll be harvesting seasonal farm-fresh produce at America’s Grow-a-Row, 150 Pittstown Road, Pittstown, NJ. The event will take place on Sunday, October 30, at noon. All produce we harvest will be given to those in need. This event is open to spouses and significant others, children, and grandchildren interested in doing a mitzvah. It promises to be a wonderful NCJW Family Day.
Grow-a-Row produce is delivered throughout the state of New Jersey to food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, Free Farm Market℠ programs, faith-based pantries, and more. If there is a need for fresh, healthy produce, Grow-a-Row does its best to meet that need. Among the recipients of the produce harvested at Grow-a-Row are the Interfaith Food Pantry of Morris County, the Community Food Bank and the Morristown Community Soup Kitchen and Outreach Center.
The farm is in beautiful country and we’ll spend a lovely day in the outdoors. While what is available for picking varies, the range could be apples, peppers, green beans, cabbage, corn and more. To sign up, e-mail Melanie Levitan (email@example.com). We’ll try to arrange carpools.
Feelie Hearts Presentation for Teens April 17
On April 17, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., our Section was part of the annual day of Jewish teen service, J-Serve, at the JCC in Whippany. Three-hundred-plus teens were in attendance.
Under the direction of Dorothy Cohen, we explained to teenagers throughout the MetroWest Jewish community how they can get involved in making Feelie Hearts for grieving children. Last summer, Dorothy spearheaded a Feelie Hearts sewing circle with Macy Gimbel, a daughter of Melanie Gimbel.
To join Dorothy at J-Serve, please contact her (firstname.lastname@example.org).
HIDDEN CHILD OF THE HOLOCAUST URGES STUDENTS TO STAND UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT
Maud Dahme, a hidden child of the Holocaust and a champion of human rights around the world, told her story of triumphing over the anti-Semitism of Nazi Germany at the NCJW Diversity Contest Awards Ceremony at Morris Knolls High School in Rockaway.
Born in Holland in 1936, the speaker told the honorees that after the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and took control in 1940, military bases were established all around her town. “Gradually, life for the Jewish community became more and more restricted,” she recalled. “We were forced to wear a yellow star, with the word ‘Jood’ (Dutch for ‘Jew’) on it in black letters. We weren’t allowed to go to parks or restaurants or movies.”
When her family was warned about upcoming arrests of Jews by the Nazis, who had began deporting Jews to concentration camps in 1942, Maud was sent into hiding at age six. She and her four-year-old sister Rita were separated from their parents, who were helped by Righteous Rescuers in another town. “My parents told us we were ‘going on vacation,’ so at first we were very excited,” she notes. “Then someone came to our house at 3 a.m. and told us we were ‘leaving right now.’”
Photo Credit: Stella Hart Public Relations/Jen Costa
Once she and her sister were placed with a farm family they did not know, they had to answer to different names and they could never reveal that they were Jewish, even though they had come from an Orthodox Jewish family. “It was very scary and hard for us to understand. But if we had ever revealed our religion, that would have put the family who was sheltering us in tremendous danger,” she said. “They risked their lives for us.”
Altogether, she and her sister spent three years in hiding. They were shuttled to another family when word reached the farm where they were living that someone in the neighborhood had told the Nazis that Jewish children were living there. “There was a price on our heads,” she said. “But we survived because people cared.” She urged members of the audience to stand up for what was right to make a difference in the world, as those who sheltered her family did during the dark days of World War II.
After the war, the family was reunited, but Maud did not even recognize her parents. The postwar years were very painful for her family, because they learned that all their relatives had perished in the Holocaust.
The family came to the United States in 1950 to rebuild their lives. While Maud graduated from high school with her peers, college was out of the question because of lack of money.
As an adult, Dahme rarely spoke about her experiences during the war. However, in the 1970s she was watching the TV program “60 Minutes.” At the end of the program, there was always a segment where letters from viewers were read. One of those letters was from a viewer claiming that a “60 Minutes” story about the Holocaust, aired the week before, was “not true” because the Holocaust “didn’t happen.” To her amazement, the letter was signed by someone she knew. That prompted her to start speaking out about how the Holocaust had affected her.
In the years since then, Dahme has become a strong advocate for education and Holocaust education in particular. She has served for the last 24 years on her local school board and is a member of the New Jersey State Board of Education, for which she has served as vice president and president. As a survivor of the Holocaust, she has dedicated her life to ensuring that today’s children have a quality public education, something she was denied during the war years.
An active member of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, Dahme visits many schools to teach young people what happens to citizens when their countries strip them of their civil rights. When the Commission sponsors summer teacher seminars on the Holocaust and genocide, with visits to concentration camp sites, Dahme accompanies the educators on their learning trips. She shares her experiences as a young child in hiding and calls attention to the courageous actions of her rescuers.
Dahme is a member of the New Jersey Hall of Fame. She was nominated for this honor by a seventh-grade student from Glassboro who heard about her struggles as a youngster and her determination to see that horrors like the Holocaust never happened again.
The New Jersey State Board of Education has established the Maud Dahme Award in her honor. This award goes to an individual who has demonstrated the moral courage and sense of humanity of an upstander in defending others.
Dahme has four children and nine grandchildren.
Our sixth-grade diversity contest was open to students in Morris County public, private and parochial schools. The contest is designed to complement class lessons on reducing prejudice and gaining an appreciation of social diversity. Students’ original entries were submitted either in written form—including poetry, essays, short plays, short stories, or library research—or as works of art, such as drawings, paintings or photographs. Entries were judged on originality, clarity, development of theme, and emotional content. Topics addressed in the contest entries were prejudices based on age, disability, ethnicity, family lifestyle, gender, health problems, the Holocaust, physical appearance, race and religion.
Thought-Provoking Breakfast Gathering in Memory of George Wolff
Paula Span, the New York Times “New Old Age” columnist, will give a special presentation titled “The Years Ahead: Caring for Yourself and Your Loved Ones—Wellness, Purpose and What Keeps Us Going,” on Sunday, May 3, at 10 a.m., at Temple Beth Sholom, 40-25 Fair Lawn Ave., in Fair Lawn. The breakfast gathering is sponsored by Jewish Family Service of North Jersey’s Sam & Nina Wolff Caregiver Support Center, in memory of George Wolff.
George, who passed away in early 2014, was the founder of the Wolff Caregiver Support Center and husband of Ilene Wolff. The cost is $36 a person ($72 a person for sponsors).
For reservations, send a check made payable to JFSNJ to One Pike Drive, Wayne, NJ 07470, visit the organization’s website at www.jfsnorthjersey.org or call 973-595-0111.
Diversity Contest Awards Ceremony
NBC 4 New York’s weekend anchor David Ushery, the creator of “The Debrief with David Ushery,” gave an inspiring keynote address at the Awards Ceremony for our sixth-grade diversity contest, “What Prejudice Means to Me.”
“The National Council of Jewish Women, West Morris Section, is planting seeds for a better world, starting with a contest like this,” he said. “It’s heartwarming to see the extraordinary artwork and writing of these young people. I’m so proud of you sixth-graders.”BC 4 New York’s weekend anchor David Ushery, the creator of “The Debrief with David Ushery,” gave an inspiring keynote address at the Awards Ceremony for our sixth-grade diversity contest, “What Prejudice Means to Me.”
The guest speaker noted that he would like to say there are fewer barriers today than years ago, but the stories of the young women kidnapped in Nigeria and the Los Angeles Clippers owner’s racist remarks have triggered a discussion about this issue, which is still with us to this day. Ushery told the story of his 98-year-old uncle who served in World War II and became a Pullman car porter: “My uncle took his family from Mississippi to the West Coast because racism was so vicious in the South.”
“Some people make judgments about us before they know us. That’s not right,” Ushery said. Speaking directly to the students, he added, “You demonstrated that you understand that.”
He commended the “wonderful parents and teachers” who “made sure the students participated in this contest,” adding, “We want to reinforce the message that what really matters when faced with stories of prejudice is our reaction to those stories and the actions we take.”
Parents, teachers, school administrators, and the student honorees were also thrilled to meet the speaker. Coordinating the contest is Karen Secular.
Photo credit: Stella Hart Public Relations/Jennifer Costa
(From left) Rafael Stankiewicz, Haley Liu, and Eileen Helck, all grand prize-winners from Madison Junior School, receive congratulations from Awards Ceremony special guest speaker David Ushery and NCJW, West Morris volunteer Marilyn Semer. The displays boards created by Rhonda Goldberger are behind them.
(From left) David Ushery congratulates the grand prize-winners in the NCJW, West Morris Section’s sixth-grade diversity contest “What Prejudice Means to Me,” Rafael Stankiewicz, Haley Liu, and Eileen Helck, all students at Madison Junior School and all grand-prize winners for written work; and Melissa Wright and Steven Aarons, both students at Robert R. Lazar Middle School in Montville and both grand-prize winners for artwork.
(From left) David Ushery, Marco Mangano of Robert R. Lazar Middle School, and Susan Neigher, co-president of NCJW, West Morris Section
Fascinating Program on ‘Eliminate Poverty Now’
Our member Judy Craig and her husband John founded Eliminate Poverty Now in 2010 with the goal of creating economic opportunity for the extreme poor in Africa, especially women. Our Section, together with the Temple B’nai Or Sisterhood/Women’s Network, heard a fascinating talk about this initiative.
The “extreme poor” is not just a descriptive term. The precise definition is people who live on less than $1 per day. Sadly, over 1 billion people fall into that category, and Africa is home to the largest percentage of them. Eliminate Poverty Now empowers these people by providing knowledge and opportunity to lift themselves out of extreme poverty. “Most of our work is in rural areas because that’s where most of the extreme poor live. And most of it is agricultural because that’s the principal activity in the countryside,” John says.
The Craigs highlighted the work they’re doing in Niger, the poorest country on earth. Most of the country lies in the Sahara Desert. Eighty percent of its 15 million people farm rain-fed crops for their survival. In such arid conditions, and with drought now occurring in two years out of every five, they are at constant risk of starvation.
“Our main project there is to introduce modern agricultural practices using irrigation as the foundation,” John noted. “We partner with a world-famous Israeli agricultural scientist, one of the team that developed drip irrigation technology to make the Negev bloom. In fact, the entire leadership team for our project is Jewish, while the country is 96% Muslim.” In addition to sharing details about this ambitious project, he pointed out that they have surprisingly warm relationships we have with the people there despite the religious differences.
Eliminate Poverty Now: At a joint meeting of our Section, and the Temple B’nai Or Sisterhood, held at the synagogue, members of both groups heard a fascinating talk by John and Judy Craig, the founders of Eliminate Poverty Now, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating extreme poverty in Africa. Judy is an NCJW, West Morris member. (from left) Susan Neigher, co-president of our Section; Karen Lilienfeld and Vivian Gibilisco, co-presidents of the Temple B’nai Or Sisterhood; Judy and John Craig; and Nadine Milberg, a Temple B’nai Or Sisterhood vice president.
The National Council of Jewish Women is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.
MORRIS COUNTY SIXTH-GRADERS TO PARTICIPATE IN NCJW, WEST MORRIS DIVERSITY CONTEST
Sixth-graders from Morris County public, private and parochial schools are participating in the 2015 NCJW Diversity Contest, sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), West Morris Section.
The contest, which is conducted in conjunction with the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, is designed to complement class lessons on reducing prejudice and gaining an appreciation of social diversity.
Students’ original entries are submitted either in written form—including poetry, essays, short plays, short stories, or library research—or as works of art, such as drawings, paintings or photographs. Entries are judged on originality, clarity, development of theme, and emotional content.
Topics addressed in the contest entries are prejudices based on age, disability, ethnicity, family lifestyle, gender, health problems, the Holocaust, physical appearance, race and religion.
The contest is ideal for the sixth grade because, at that age, children are becoming more aware of and developing greater insight into all types of prejudice. The contest, which is held in memory of Amy Rotberg Mintz and Helen Weiss, also dovetails nicely with the sixth-grade curriculum. The contest chair is Karen Secular of Morris Township.
A special awards reception, honoring the Grand Prize winners, the Outstanding Award winners, and those receiving Honorable Mention, will be held in May.
The National Council of Jewish Women is a volunteer organization, inspired by Jewish values, that works through a program of research, education, advocacy and community service to improve the quality of life for women, children and families, and strives to ensure individual rights and freedoms for all.
For further information about the NCJW, West Morris diversity contest, email email@example.com. Individual sixth-graders whose schools are not participating may contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to enter the contest on their own.