Year: 2021

Back 2 School Store 2015

Hundreds of Children, Hundreds of Smiles —

Over 600 Children Shop Cost-Free at NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store

 Walls completely lined with new patterned backpacks, rows of brand new sneakers, and racks and racks of clothing – this was the scene at the National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section, Back 2 School Store (B2SS) on Sunday, Aug. 2nd. In its 7th year, the B2SS outfitted more than 600 economically disadvantaged children and utilized over 400 volunteers this year alone. The children were able to shop cost-free for brand new attire, school supplies and personal care items, encouraging a well-equipped and confident start to the new school year.

Joan Gabin of Livingston, who has been a member of NCJW/Essex for almost 39 years, has volunteered at the B2SS since its inception. “The task to get this all up and running is monumental. It makes me so proud to be a part of it.”

The day began with a ribbon cutting ceremony for dignitaries and supporters of the store led by B2SS co-chairs Leslie Lavinthal, Lesley Greenstein and Paula Green. This year’s B2SS would not have been possible without major support from several corporate sponsors including Janssen Support Group, the Miller Family Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Eagle Rock Self Storage, Tradeweb Markets LLC, TJX Foundation and University Hospital.

Following the ribbon cutting, the store was opened to a long line of excited children, eager to enter the store and pick out brand new outfits including pants, shirts, winter coats, gloves, socks, undergarments and hats. The children, referred through over 30 social service agencies, were greeted by their own personal shoppers and then the student-volunteer duos began their shopping excursions. First stop: a hallway of colorful new backpacks! Then each child received a warm welcome into the 4,000 sq foot space, hosted at B’nai Shalom in West Orange. By the end of the spree, each child had a big bag of clothing in tow and a backpack filled with personal care items and school supplies.

“Some of the kids say, ‘Wow, I’ve never had my own toothbrush before!’ They have to share with their siblings,” said Laurie Schuftan, B2SS volunteer and NCJW/Essex member. “It is mind boggling what we take for granted every day.”

Ranging from college freshman to grandparents, the passion each volunteer brought was undeniably visible through the smiles of hundreds of children who filled the store. With three volunteer shifts throughout the day, each volunteer underwent specific training on how to optimize the shopping experience for the child in need. From picking out pens and calculators to help finding jeans with the perfect fit, the personal shoppers guided and encouraged each child through every step.

While the children were selecting school supplies and their brand new wardrobe, parents and guardians visited the Gaelen Family Resource Center. Here, blood pressure screenings, glucose tolerance testing, eye exams, information on proper dental care and more helped to identify individuals at risk for health concerns and educate them regarding follow-up care.

With shoes that fit just right and smiles from ear to ear, the children exited the store and were reunited with their parents. “Thank you all so much, this is amazing,” said one mother while she departed with her two children. “God bless.”

“This is such a worthwhile endeavor,” Gabin said. “Regardless of race, religion – when there is a need, we like to go there and help.”

Opening Event Features Shiza Shahid

NCJW/Essex Opening Event to Feature Shiza Shahid, the Woman Behind the Malala Fund “An Advocate for Malala – A Catalyst for Social Change”

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 – Brooklake Country Club, Florham Park

The National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) announces its 2015 Opening Event featuring Shiza Shahid, friend, advocate and global ambassador for Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist who, at 15-years-old dared to advocate for girls’ education and was shot by the Taliban in 2012. The NCJW/Essex Opening Event will take place on Tuesday, October 20 at 7:30 p.m., at Brooklake Country Club, 139 Brooklake Road, Florham Park, NJ.

Shahid, along with a recovered Malala and her father, designed the Malala Fund, a NYC based non-profit that empowers girls through education and leadership around the world. From her hometown of Islamabad, Pakistan, to the halls of Stanford University, 25-year-old Shahid has gone on to gain international recognition as a social entrepreneur who has made it her life’s work to drive social change and invest in others who are passionate about marching forward for global progress.

Malala’s story resonated throughout the world and she was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. A documentary about her life, “He Named Me Malala,” opens in theaters on October 2, 2015.

Registration is required for the Opening Event which is open to the public and is free of charge to NCJW/Essex members and $20 for nonmembers. Boutique shopping, coffee and dessert are available from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm; the program begins at 7:30 pm. Those nonmembers wishing to join NCJW/Essex can apply $20 toward a new yearly membership of $50. Attendees can register for the event by calling (973) 740-0588 or online at

“Shiza Shahid’s energy and activism can inspire us all to search for ways to work for social change to make the world a better place,” says Deborah Legow Schatz, president NCJW/Essex. “We look forward to hearing about what she has already learned in her young life and her drive to be an activist for social change.”

WOW Film Festival 2015

NCJW/Essex Announces the Annual Wonder of Women Film Festival

Progressive Independent Films Portray the Universal Spirit and Courage of Women


LIVINGSTON, N.J., September 24, 2015 – A mother flees from her home in Pakistan with her ten-year-old daughter when the father promises a rival tribe leader his daughter’s hand in marriage… A woman teaches modern dance at a prison and the lives of the prisoners have never been the same… A guard at Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall follows a woman’s notes in the holy stones…

These captivating stories and several others, including Pakistan’s official entry into the 87th Academy Awards under Best Foreign Film, will be presented at this year’s Wonder of Women Film Festival, sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) on Sunday, November 1, 2015 at the Maurice Levin Theater on the Ross Family Campus of the Leon & Toby Cooperman JCC, 760 Northfield Avenue in West Orange. The Film Festival showcases the universal spirit and courage of women of all ages, manifested through short films and documentaries created by independent filmmakers. This one-day event will be held from 10:00 am – 3:15 pm.

Following are summaries of some of the planned films. The final program is subject to change.

  • Dukhtar (Daughter): The dramatic story of a mother who flees with her daughter after the father promises a rival tribe leader his daughter’s hand in marriage as a peace offering. The story takes a thrilling turn when the mother and daughter get a lift from a sympathetic truck driver who, after hearing the story, has to decide between saving his own life or protecting the duo and delivering them safely to Lahore.
  • Hannah Cohen’s Holy Communion: Set in Dublin in the 1970’s, this film explores a rarely glimpsed Ireland as seen through the eyes of spirited seven-year-old, Hannah Cohen. Hannah can’t wait to make her Holy Communion – only problem is, she’s Jewish!
  • The Game Changer: Every Sunday afternoon for the last seven years, Susan Slotnick drove an hour up the mountains to the Woodbourne Correctional Facility, a medium security prison for men, to teach modern dance. The lives of men whom she touched have never been the same.
  • To Be Like Avi: A coming-of-age story of three friends, refugees who fled Africa and left their families behind. The film follows them during their senior high school year. At the end of the year they will find out whether they can achieve the impossible and join the IDF or be deported back to their countries – and to a sentence of certain death.
  • Dear God: A poetic Jerusalem seen through the eyes of Aaron, a simple Wailing Wall Guard, that follows a mysterious beautiful woman’s notes in the holy stones of Jerusalem.

“Each year the film festival brings to the screen thought-provoking, relevant and entertaining films by women that shed light on many aspects of women’s lives,” says NCJW/Essex President Deborah Legow Schatz. “We are extremely proud of our line-up this year.”

The fee for all day admission is $45 per person for NCJW members and $60 per person for nonmembers. Nonmembers wishing to join NCJW/Essex can apply $15 toward a new yearly membership of $50. Included with the cost of admission is a Kosher box lunch. Reservations are required. Seats will be available on a first-come basis on the day of the festival. For tickets and directions, please call NCJW/Essex at (973) 740-0588. Registration is available online at, or you may mail a check to NCJW/Essex, 70 South Orange Ave, Suite 120, Livingston, NJ 07039.


The film festival has been made possible through the generous support of Audrey and Norbert Gaelen.

Lunch and Learn — Rainbow Journeys

NCJW/Essex Lunch & Learn — Rainbow Journeys: The Times, They Are A-Changing to Feature Members of the LGBTQ Community

We have experienced an enormous legal, political and cultural transformation in our country surrounding LGBTQ issues. NCJW/Essex is sponsoring a Lunch and Learn – Rainbow Journeys: The Times, They Are A-Changin’ – on Thursday, October 29, 2015 from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm to explore these changes with members of the LGBTQ community. Panelists will be joined by a representative from Garden State Equality and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), to share their stories in light of past and recent developments in the courts, Congress, and the world in which we live.

The program will be held at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, 432 Scotland Road, South Orange. Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel is co-sponsoring the program with Rabbi Daniel Cohen serving as moderator. Pre-registration is required. NCJW/Essex members: $20; Nonmembers: $25; includes a buffet lunch. To register, please call 973-740-0588 or visit

Shiza Shahid Inspires Action

Shiza Shahid Appeals to Audience to go Beyond Inspiration to Action

at the NCJW/Essex Opening Event

NCJW/Essex enjoyed a full house at the 2015 Opening Event on October 20, 2015 at Brooklake Country Club featuring Shiza Shahid, co-founder of the Malala Fund. Shahid posed the question, “What will you do with your one miraculous life?” to the audience, and encouraged attendees to realize the power within to create immense social change.

Shahid, this year’s keynote speaker for the NCJW/Essex yearly kick-off event, is an entrepreneur and advocate, passionate about leveraging philanthropy, venture capital, technology and the media to drive scalable social impact and women’s empowerment. Friend, advocate and global ambassador for Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist who, at 15-years-old dared to advocate for girls’ education and was shot by the Taliban in 2012, she co-founded the Malala Fund to empower girls through education and leadership around the world and led the organization as its founding CEO.

“There are no superheroes — just us,” Shahid remarked, as she implored people to find their purpose and act for a better world. At 25-years-old, the Stanford University graduate from Islamabad, Pakistan, has gained international recognition as a social entrepreneur who has made it her life’s work to drive social change and invest in others who are passionate about marching forward for global progress.

Also speaking at the program was Charity Haygood, Principal of the BRICK Avon Academy in Newark, who spoke from the heart about what inspires her to push for quality education for all. The BRICK model – Building Responsible Intelligent Creative Kids – infuses the characteristics of the highest performing urban schools into historically failing schools, unlocking the potential of every student. The BRICK Avon Academy is one of four locations housing the NCJW/Essex Kids Emergency Closet, providing essential items of clothing to children in need throughout the year.

“NCJW/Essex embodies the message that both these women asserted – that when people find their purpose and live intentionally they can make progressive strides in our society,” said Deborah Legow Schatz, president NCJW/Essex. “There is plenty of work to do — right here in Essex County and in the world in which we live. NCJW/Essex can help anyone who wants to get involved to go beyond inspiration to action.”

Three Essex County Students Win the Annual Nancy and Robert Eskow NCJW Volunteer Awards

The National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) honored three extraordinary Essex County high school students with the Nancy and Robert Eskow NCJW Volunteer Awards. Selected out of an outstanding field of 36 applicants, the recipients of the awards were recognized for their contributions to many different causes including starting a community service based news website, creating and filming live fire scenes for educational purposes, and fighting to build gender-neutral bathrooms in a local high school. This is the 13th year the award has been bestowed to deserving high school students.

The 2016 award winners include Madeline Broderick of Glen Ridge High School, Jared Kofsky of Columbia High School in Maplewood, and Mark Rosetti of Bloomfield High School. These high school seniors have shown a commitment and dedication to improving lives for others locally and globally.

Madeline Broderick, a senior at Glen Ridge High School, has dedicated her time as President of the Feminist Club to make a difference in the lives of women as well as in the LGBT community. With the Feminist Club she participated in fundraisers that included a clothing drive for Oasis Women’s Shelter in Paterson, a toiletries drive for Safe House Domestic Violence Shelter in Bloomfield, and a fundraiser for victims of acid attacks in the Middle East. She felt as President it was important not only to get involved and help women all over the world, but to make a difference within her own school. To that end, she helped advocate for gender-neutral bathrooms to be created at her high school. Broderick states, “Making a difference means sometimes making people uncomfortable and challenging people’s beliefs, which means that you won’t always be the most popular.”

Combining his passions of reporting and photography with a desire to serve others through mass communication, Jared Kofsky, a senior at Columbia High School in Maplewood, created the website He created the site because he felt the media rarely highlighted the positive attributes of Newark and he wanted to communicate a different perspective and stress positive news. The site operates under the slogan, “Unifying Greater Newark, New Jersey with local news and events” and concentrates on events, education, transportation, culture, politics and business. Kofsky received second place in a national competition sponsored by Seton Hall University in November 2015 where he showcased the website. Kofsky states, “I am happy to make a difference by using my website to serve others and to build community. I look forward to continuing to use mass communication for charitable purposes.”

Mark Rosetti, a senior at Bloomfield High School, was always fascinated by fire departments and firefighters. He started taking videos and pictures at different fire scenes and posting them on YouTube as a hobby. His channel began to develop a “fan base” and his videos began to be used for education and training. Three years later his channel has grown to 6,300 subscribers and 4.6 million views. He is now on the Bloomfield Fire Department Volunteer Rescue Company. Rosetti says, “It has been a childhood dream of mine to become a firefighter. I believe that building relationships through my film work and learning skills and techniques from what I have seen, I will be a better firefighter and also a better person.”

Winners of the Nancy and Robert Eskow Volunteer Award reflect the mission and values of NCJW/Essex through their commitment and dedication to community service projects and advocacy experienced during their high school careers. In recognition of their exemplary contributions, each will receive a $500 scholarship and an award certificate from NCJW/Essex.

Anthony Garubo Salon in Maplewood Partners with the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women to Provide a Special Day for Women

Eleven clients from the NCJW/Essex Center for Women (CFW) were pampered at the award-winning Anthony Garubo Salon in Maplewood, NJ on Monday, May 16th. Usually closed on Mondays, the salon opened its doors and donated its time and talent to help empower the CFW clients with a new look. Anything was possible, from a blowout to cut, color and even highlights, as the stylists consulted with each individual client. One client was even empowered to donate 10 inches of her hair to Locks of Love.

The atmosphere at the Anthony Garubo Salon was truly inspiring; the clients arrived not really knowing what to expect and left feeling transformed. “The Anthony Garubo Salon has graciously hosted this event for the past three years,” said Myrna Wertheimer, a long term client of the salon. “Three years ago I put them in touch with the NCJW/Essex Center for Women because of the salon’s interest and desire to give back to the community and specifically to women in need. It has been a wonderful partnership.”

The salon staff and stylists were honored to participate and provide this special day for women. Janine Garubo Austin, managing partner at the Anthony Garubo Salon said, “We are always excited to make people feel better about themselves and assist someone to hold their head higher.” Moses, a stylist at the salon, shared this sentiment, Moses. “After participating in this event for three years now, my favorite part is bringing joy to the women who come in.”

“As a new mom, I have been so busy at home taking care of my family and this is my first opportunity to get pampered before getting back into the workforce,” commented Yvonne Smith, a client of the NCJW/Essex Center for Women. Another client, JoEllen Green added, “This experience is very relaxing — as I walked into the salon I felt such good energy.”

Patty Kremen, Career Services Manager at the NCJW/Essex Center for Women organizes this event because she feels it is important to help women who are looking for a job or in transition to feel empowered and good about themselves. “Sometimes you are too focused on your job search and you need to take time to look inward and focus on yourself.” Patty also commented on the salon’s generosity remarking, “The Garubo Salon has given these women an amazing opportunity to feel refreshed and recharged.” As the women left feeling transformed, they received a special gift bag from the Garubo Salon. “I feel great—I’m so excited about how I look and feel,” commented one client; “It was a wonderful day – I feel like a movie star,” said another.

The Center for Women is a resource for women focusing on growth and self-improvement. The Center offers workshops on a variety of topics, computer classes, financial and legal guidance, career services and peer support. Clients of the Center are learning skills to enter or re-enter the workforce, finding encouragement to cope with new or unexpected life situations, gaining the confidence to develop their own career path and improving personal relationships.

The Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women is located at 70 South Orange Avenue, Livingston, NJ. For more information, please visit or call (973) 994-4994.

Three Women Honored at the NCJW/Essex Annual Installation and Awards Evening

Three local women were presented with awards for their leadership, service and contributions at the NCJW/Essex Annual Installation and Awards Evening, which took place Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at Cedar Hill Country Club in Livingston, NJ.

Ellen Barocas of Cedar Grove, NJ, was the recipient of The Hannah G. Solomon Award, presented by NCJW/Essex to an individual who has changed the lives of others through leadership efforts and service on a community level. Barocas is attracted to the mission of advocating for women, children and families. Both for NCJW/Essex and other advocacy efforts, she has channeled her passions and made a difference on a community level, earning her the distinction of the Hannah G. Solomon Award.

Always the advocate and community organizer, Barocas has worked relentlessly for those less fortunate. She has sat in front of grocery stores to do voter registration and lobbied at legislators’ offices. She was a founder of the Public Education Committee in West Orange, has strong ties to Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, maintains her deep commitment to the Jewish Community Housing Corporation and is currently chairing the 100th Anniversary celebration for the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America. For NCJW/Essex, Ellen created the petition to lobby the state to designate February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in NJ. Her leadership helped expand the popular “Politics and Pastry” program and the growth and success of the “Lunch and Learn” programs.

Robin Abrams of North Caldwell, NJ, was the recipient of the Service to Section Award, recognized for her passion and dedication as a volunteer for 35 years. Abrams has served in numerous roles for NCJW/Essex including as a member of the Art Show Steering Committee, co-chair of Holocaust education and a participant in MLK Day activities. More recently she has assumed leadership roles for several fundraising activities including the Special Gifts campaign, the Golf Outing, House Tour and Card Party. Abram’s broad spectrum of activities and her tireless work as a volunteer has earned her the Service to Section Award.

Lauren Scher of Livingston, NJ was the recipient of the Henrietta Weiser Emerging Leader Award, presented to a promising NCJW/Essex member who has demonstrated leadership potential. For Scher the opportunity to make a difference locally has been behind her evolving role within NCJW/Essex.

Scher first started volunteering with the Mitzvah-in-a-Minute program and became a committed volunteer with the Teen Dating Abuse Project serving as an Assistant and a Presenter. She has since moved up the leadership ladder to Vice President of Volunteer Outreach. With hands-on responsibility for numerous volunteer initiatives including Mitzvah-in-a-Minute, VolunTeens/VolunTweens, Kids Emergency Closet, Empty Bowls No More and the Eskow Volunteer Awards, Lauren has found that at NCJW/Essex the chance to participate is infinite. Scher will assume the role of Vice President of Programming for the coming year.

Shari Harrison of Livingston, NJ, Poised to Assume Presidency of NCJW/Essex with a Passion for Community Service and a Vision for the Future

Shari Harrison of Livingston, NJ, was installed as President of NCJW/Essex at the organization’s annual Installation and Awards Evening in early June at Cedar Hill Country Club in Livingston. Passing the gavel to her at her installation was her 24-year-old daughter, Melanie Harrison, a teaching fellow at the Rehouse Arts Center in Syracuse, NY.

For over 20 years, NCJW/Essex has been a place that has met Ms. Harrison’s avid need to serve the public good and work with intelligent and open-minded women of all ages. Now she brings her many skills to a new leadership level. Speaking to an audience of over 200 NCJW/Essex members and guests, Ms. Harrison said, “I am truly honored that NCJW/Essex – the premier, the smartest and the most professional volunteer organization around – has chosen me as its next president.”

An attorney by training and a true progressive, Ms. Harrison has been involved for over 20 years in numerous capacities with NCJW/Essex and is committed to the goal of making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. In her role as president, she hopes to build upon advocacy efforts, particularly in the area of anti-human trafficking, and expand partnerships with like-minded organizations in the community.   Outgoing president Deborah Legow Schatz, who has served two years at the helm of the organization, said of Ms. Harrison, “I couldn’t be prouder or more certain that I am giving the reins to a truly special woman who will move NCJW/Essex forward by leaps and bounds.”

Ms. Harrison’s goal is to ensure NCJW/Essex remains relevant, vibrant and responsive to the needs of clients, members, supporters and volunteers. “It is my priority to maintain and expand upon NCJW’s willingness to always question the status quo, for both the benefit of the community we serve and for our valued volunteers.”