NCJW/Essex Volunteers Take Annual Back 2 School Store Mobile to Meet the Needs of 1,000 Essex County Kids

LIVINGSTON, NJ – This summer, NCJW/Essex held their 12th Annual Back 2 School Store, and first-ever Mobile Back 2 School Store (B2SS). 

In previous years, the B2SS provided Essex County children in financial need a chance to “shop” for free clothing, sneakers, school supplies and personal care items in a one-day-only “store” set up just for them in the Livingston, NJ area.   

However, due to the pandemic, social distancing requirements, and public health concerns, the traditional B2SS had to be completely re-imagined for 2020. Volunteers worked together to adapt the format and to make sure the children served would still be able to receive the many important items supplied by the B2SS to help ensure a great start to the upcoming school year. 

In order to make this happen, volunteers set-up tents, created packing stations, and every morning for close to two weeks worked in small group shifts to ensure safety at a private home in Short Hills. Working outdoors in the extreme heat, volunteers packed individual backpacks and packages, then loaded them into vehicles for delivery to social service agencies located throughout Essex County, including Newark, East Orange, Livingston, Bloomfield and Montclair.  

“It was a true logistical challenge packing and delivering hundreds of backpacks and supplies, but we did it thanks to everyone’s commitment and can-do attitude,” shared Penina Barr, NCJW/Essex President. “This effort is so important; we knew we couldn’t let the pandemic stop us.” 

NCJW/Essex worked in collaboration with hundreds of donors who provided financial support and product donations. Due to the efforts of Livingston Town Councilman Michael Vieira, transportation provided by Essex County allowed NCJW/Essex to get hundreds of boxes with backpacks and packages to 40 partner agencies which then safely directly distributed these items to Essex County children in financial need.  

According to the B2SS Committee Chairs, Laurie Schuftan, Stacey Laken, and Lauren Tabak Fass, the B2SS provided 1,000 children in Essex County with backpacks, school supplies, personal care items, face masks, games, and a handwritten note, each one created by one of the hundreds of NCJW/Essex volunteers of all ages participating in this initiative. 

“The children and families in the Essex County community who are served by the Back 2 School Store have been among the hardest hit during these extraordinary times, and we knew we had to find a way to bring the store to them, safely and securely,” said Caitlin Higgins Joy, Executive Director of NCJW/Essex, adding, “we are so grateful to our volunteers who worked tirelessly to make this happen.” 

Welcome David Pasternack, Director of Resource Development!

David Pasternack recently joined NCJW/Essex as the Director of Resource Development. David brings over 20 years of nonprofit experience with organizations such as Hadassah and American Heart Association.

While at Hadassah, David served as Chief Development Officer and helped complete a $325 million dollar capital campaign to build 13 underground operating rooms at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

At American Heart Association, David was on the team that launched the award-winning GO RED FOR WOMEN heart program, which is credited with saving thousands of women’s lives. He also was Executive Director for the New York office of Israel Bonds for 5 years where they sold over $200 million annually to benefit the State of Israel.

David is a graduate of the University of Georgia where he majored in Business. His passion for theater and travel is shared by his one daughter, Hillary. Contact David at dpasternack@ncjwessex.org.

Call to Action: Ask Your State Legislators to Support the Reproductive Freedom Act

As we mourn the passing of Justice Ginsburg, we know that the future of abortion access in the hands of the Supreme Court is deeply uncertain. With our rights at stake at the federal level, now is the time for New Jersey to commit to ensuring that everyone can get the care they need, when they need it.  

Call to Action: Ask Your State Legislators to Support  
the Reproductive Freedom Act 

Find your state legislators (1 State Senator and 2 General Assembly Membershere:  

https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/SelectMun.asp

CALL SCRIPT:  

Dear [Legislator], 

I am a member of the National Council of Jewish Women. Passing the Reproductive Freedom Act will help protect and expand the ability for all New Jerseyans to receive reproductive health care, such as birth control and pregnancy-related care, including abortion. The Reproductive Freedom Act explicitly ensures New Jerseyans have the right to make their own personal decisions when it comes to reproductive health care. We believe that in New Jersey everyone should be able to receive the care they need and to plan their families without barriers, fear or interference from others.  

We urge that you support the Reproductive Freedom Act, and protect and expand access to birth control and pregnancy-care, including abortion, in New Jersey. Thank you for your consideration.  

NCJW Essex/Back 2 School Store needs your help creating personal notes for Phase 2 of our Mobile B2SS!

This summer, NCJW/Essex delivered backpacks filled with school supplies, personal care items and more, to 1,000 children in need during Phase 1 of our Mobile Back 2 School Store. Each backpack included a handwritten note which added a personal touch.

Plans are already underway for the final phase of our Mobile B2SS, when we will distribute much needed warm weather clothes to these same children. We will again include a personal note in each package, to encourage each child to make the most of their school year.

Here is where we need you! We want to offer you, your children or grandchildren the opportunity to create uplifting “Warm Wishes for Cool Weather” notes that will bring a smile to a child’s face. The notes can be simple or elaborate, and feel free to make several since we need 1,000 of these notes!

Instructions for “Warm Wishes” notes:

  • Print the image that can be found by clicking here. The message you write should be unisex and appropriate for any child in Kindergarten through 5th grade
    • Wondering what to say in the note? Here are a few suggestions:
      • I bet you can’t wait until it snows and you can go outside to build a snowman! Here is some stuff to keep you warm while you are having fun!
      • We’ve got you covered from head to toe! Stay warm and study hard! 
      • Enjoy this cool stuff for the cold weather!
  • Decorate with your own markers/crayons and you can even add stickers if you want.
  • Mail the completed “Warm Wishes” notes to the NCJW office or drop off during business hours by Friday, October 16 at noon to NCJW/Essex B2SS, 70 South Orange Avenue, Suite 120, Livingston, NJ 07039

Don’t forget to send us photos!!! Send us pictures of you and your loved ones creating these notes and we’ll share them online!!! Email images to ncjwb2ss@gmail.com.

By sending your photo, you grant permission to the National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section the irrevocable right to use your name (and the names of any others that appear in the photo that you disclose) and the photograph for reproduction in any print or electronic medium, including social media, for advertising, display, exhibition or editorial use.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask Ellen Staple, Manager of Membership and Resource Development at estaple@ncjwessex.org.

Susie Botwinick and Sherri Fendelman, NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store Volunteer Co-chairs

Lauren Fass, Lori Gelman and Rachel Khedouri, NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store Co-Chairs

Join Ruth’s Revolution

Join Ruth’s Revolution. May Her Memory Be a Revolution #Ruthless

My heritage as a Jew and my occupation as a judge fit together symmetrically. The demand for justice runs through the entirety of Jewish history and tradition.

 – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 

We were devastated by the loss of Justice Ginsburg, and we mourn with America. Few people have so irrevocably altered the lives of so many. Ideas that once seemed so radical, today are common sense because of her efforts – chief among them equal protection of the law and what that means for the most vulnerable among us, including women, children and families.  

But we cannot simply mourn. Our heritage demands that we take action to honor her legacy.  

Let’s do this. 

1. Justice Ginsburg always chose her words carefully from her early years as a lawyer arguing landmark cases to her powerful dissenting opinions from the bench of the US Supreme Court, and finally, her dying wish to her granddaughter that her seat not be filled until the next president is sworn in.  Together let’s ensure her seat is filled only after every vote is counted.  Sign the petition here and text RBG to 50409 to have Resistbot automatically send signed letters to your Senators urging them to keep her seat vacant.

2. There is a custom in many Jewish communities that, at the end of a shiva period, mourners take a walk around the block to symbolically mark the end of an intensely inward time and return to the world. As such, NCJW/Essex will join with other NCJW sections and Jewish communities across the country as we take a symbolic walk around our blocks or local courthouses on Friday, October 2, at noon. We will circle our office at 70 South Orange Avenue to remind people that this work in the world matters, critically. Please bring a mask. We will be observing socially distancing. Email Stephanie Abrahams, Director of Advocacy, at sabrahams@ncjwessex.org to RSVP. 

3. Honor Justice Ginsburg by celebrating her life. Join us for a virtual group tour of The Illinois Holocaust Museum Exhibit: “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” Curator Arielle Weininger will discuss the history of RBG and the exhibition, complete with embedded audio, video and photographs of artifacts as seen in the exhibition. A live Q&A with a docent will follow. There are two sessions, Tuesday, October 6, at 1 p.m. and Thursday, October 8, at 5 p.m. Register here

Phase 1 of the Mobile Back 2 School Store is complete!

Phase 1 of the Mobile Back 2 School Store is complete! We are proud to have equipped 1,000 children with backpacks, school supplies, toothbrushes, toothpaste, games, face masks, and socks all thanks to our incredible sponsors, our amazing volunteers, staff members and agency partners. A special thank you to everyone whose donations made this possible. WE DID IT! Please consider a donation to the B2SS to keep the effort going, and stay tuned for Phase 2!