July 2021

NCJW/Essex 2020 Highlights: Reproductive Rights

NCJW/Essex spearheaded many advocacy efforts for Reproductive Rights in 2020.

At Roe 2.0 in January, we learned from Katie Watson, acclaimed author of The Scarlet A, how to talk about ordinary abortion and what access might look like in the next decade and beyond. 

We wrote hundreds of postcards to our legislators asking them to protect reproductive rights here in NJ at our Advocacy-in-an-Hour.  

We joined with other NCJW sections and Jewish communities across the country and took a symbolic walk to mark the end of shiva for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, thanking RBG for her accomplishments and vowing to continue her work.

As part of Thrive NJ, we worked with the Governor and state legislature to create and introduce the Reproductive Freedom Act, proactive legislation that will help protect and expand New Jerseyans’ ability to receive reproductive healthcare, such as birth control and pregnancy-related care, including abortion.  

NCJW/Essex Stands Against Hate

“We don’t know what we are looking at yet. Is this the end of something or the beginning?” – Van Jones, CNN 

We are still reeling after watching the chaos that unfolded on Wednesday as protesters stormed the Capitol, overrunning police barricades, brandishing weapons and ransacking offices. 

The image of a man amidst the mob wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words “Camp Auschwitz” was particularly haunting.

Equally disturbing was the image a few months ago of peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors being shot, arrested and chased down while protesting systemic racism. Why is it that peaceful protestors were met with violence, but these domestic terrorists who directly destroyed property, trespassed, instigated violence, and violated federal laws while contesting a fairly decided election were simply walked away from the Capitol? We know why this outcome was so different. The majority of the people who stormed the Capitol were white.

We know what we are looking at because we have seen it too many times before. Call them right-wing activists, conspiracy theorists, white supremacists or extreme fringe groups. It doesn’t matter. They are all euphemisms for hate.  

At NCJW/Essex we stand together against hate in all its forms. We will continue to work with advocates across New Jersey and the country, with our partners, and our elected officials to demand justice.

Those who work toward damaging our democracy have been empowered in recent years. They leave behind, at a minimum, a distrust in government and, at worst, the seeds of violence and fear. The cleanup on Wednesday was literal. Another striking image was one taken after the Capitol had been cleared: NJ Congressman Andy Kim helping to pick up the mess left behind. 

Repairing the damage left in the wake of this hate means strengthening our towns, our state and our nation by recommitting to the work we at NCJW/Essex do best: forming and engaging in coalitions; becoming better allies; advocating, volunteering and participating in community service. 

The fortitude of our country comes from people standing together, working toward its betterment and against threats to democracy. That is our power. That is the wall that cannot be breached. 

Thank you for standing with us. 

To learn more about the National Council of Jewish Women’s powerful response to the deplorable attacks on the U.S. Capitol click here.

NCJW/Essex Shares Recollections about Diane Apter

NCJW/Essex’s longtime bookkeeper Diane Apter has retired after more than 28 years. A celebration was held via Zoom, and many shared their fond memories of working with Diane, and how she was always there to help and to share a friendly smile.

Here are a few of the recollections shared from those who knew Diane over the years.

Diane arrived at NCJW just in time for me. I had just become the treasurer of our Thrift Shop and had no idea about taxes, etc. She spent hours with me teaching and never gave up. ENJOY your retirement – you deserve it! – Sylvia Goldbas

Dearest Diane, I remember when we hired you – lo those many years ago. You taught me bookkeeping 101 and during my 15-years with the Section were always such strong support. It is no wonder I came to love you and your family so much. We celebrated so much together and of course, cried together as well. Now when I think of you I picture you at Abra’s wedding – smiling, glowing, taking care of each and every guest – not to mention helping her change into her many dresses!! But mostly, I remember the last time I saw you with your mom, Murray. You are a very special woman Diane – you combine grace and strength in the most perfect way.  NCJW is so fortunate to have had your support for so many years. I treasure the moments and hugs that we shared. Enjoy this next chapter. Perhaps a visit to Los Angeles is in the cards????
Love and admiration always,
Judy Gordon

I have known Diane for many years, and always appreciated her warmth. She always asked me about my family and children and it was genuine. As president I enjoyed working with her, she never lost her patience with me no matter how silly the question was!! We will miss you Diane!” – Lesley Greenstein

I’ve always been grateful that Diane is part of the NCJW/Essex staff, as well as being my friend.  She is so generous, warm and compassionate toward everyone she meets.  For quite a while, the only people regularly working in the office on Friday were Diane and me.  We enjoyed having lunch together in the conference room, with plenty of sharing:  stories and photos of our families; my friend’s knowledge of Italian & memories of her childhood; one of Diane’s homemade soups and sometimes a treat from the cafe.  I loved hearing about Diane’s daughters and her grandchildren, of whom was very proud.  Occasionally I’d play my flute for a little while.  Diane always turned off the music in her office so she could enjoy the Italian tunes.  I think we developed a special bond, spending time together on Fridays.  Diane gave so much of herself to NCJW/Essex.  She was phenomenal at her job, challenging as it could be at times.  Diane worked very hard, sometimes coming in on weekends or staying late on Fridays.  She was invaluable in so many ways – day to day bookkeeping, helping out at events, patiently assisting new treasurers and co-chairs of events, solving problems – nothing could get past this amazing woman.  Diane was truly a heroine of NCJW/Essex! – Gail Sample

New Jersey Election Day is almost upon us.

During this past year, you may have made your first nervous call to a legislator, shown up at a rally and promised to not keep silent about issues important to you. At NCJW/Essex, we have continued to raise our voices about some of the issues we care about: women’s access to reproductive health care, gun safety, voting rights, and economic equality for the most vulnerable — to name just a few. However, it’s easy to let our advocacy slip away as we go about our busy lives. How do we keep up the pressure?

The answer is to VOTE. Election Day is a chance to reinvigorate yourself with a trip to the polls and to exercise your most fundamental right as an American citizen — the right to vote. This November 7th, all statewide NJ elected offices, including Governor and Lt. Governor, are up for election. Unfortunately, turnout for NJ non-presidential elections is dismally low — only 20.8% of eligible voters showed up to vote in 2015.

Do you have friends and family members who aren’t registered to vote? Keep voter registration forms handy to encourage them to register — you can even offer to help fill it out and drop it in the mail! Remember — the deadline to register to vote is October 17th. Use social media in a respectful way to remind your contacts to get out on Election Day. And when you head out the door to cast your vote, call some friends and make a carpool!

Remember, November 7th is your chance to speak up with your strongest voice — your VOTE.

Visit www.njelections.org to obtain voter registration and vote by mail applications.