September 2022

Reproductive Rights – Legislative Summit 2022

Abortion Access is a Winning Issue

At the Reproductive Rights Legislative Summit held in Trenton on Sept. 29, NCJW/Essex members joined Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Women for Progress, UU Faith Action of NJ, Cherry Hill Women’s Center, NOW, the League of Women Voters and other advocates to learn about the state of abortion access in our country, and how we can help protect and expand access in New Jersey. 

Our members staffed an NCJW/Essex activist station at the State House and participated in a rally for reproductive rights on the State House steps. Reproductive Rights co-chair Phoebe Pollinger spoke passionately about eliminating all obstacles that limit reproductive freedom. 

Reproductive Rights co-chair Phoebe Pollinger spoke passionately about eliminating all obstacles that limit reproductive freedom.   (Click the picture below to hear Phoebe’s remarks!) 

NCJW/Essex members also attended a Women and Children committee meeting in the State Assembly where eight menstrual equity bills were passed, including those to provide products in homeless shelters and food banks.  These are the first menstrual equity bills passed in New Jersey! 

Thanks to Phoebe, Sharon Falkin, Sara Goetz, Laurie Kahn, Deborah Legow Schatz, Amy Schwartz and Stephanie Abrahams for being our voice in Trenton on these very important issues. 

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Get Out the Vote – Elections 2022

The Power of a Team to Power Up the Vote

A rainy forecast did not deter a rock star group of volunteers from working to Get Out the Vote on Sept. 22 at our first Power Up the Vote event.

More than 75 people donned their waterproof gear, braved the weather and gathered at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun to write postcards, send letters and let people across the country know how important their vote is in all elections, especially the one coming up in November.

During the event, the hard-working volunteers wrote:

  • 500 postcards on behalf of Black Voters Matter 
  • 200 postcards on behalf of The Civics Center 
  • 280 letters on behalf of Vote Forward 

And, even though the event has ended, our work to get out the vote continues.  Volunteers took more than 700 postcards to complete at home on behalf of Reclaim the Vote.   NCJW/Essex also has several more Get Out the Vote events planned for October 2022.

Other groups represented included League of Women Voters and Democracy in a Day, which supports same-day voter registration. 

Power Up the Vote was co-sponsored by the JCRC of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Thank you to NCJW/Essex Get Out the Vote Co-Chairs Jordana Horn Gordon and Elisa Madorsky and to everyone who participated for your commitment to democracy and to making sure everyone votes in November.

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Mitzvah-in-a-Minute – Diaper Drive 2022

Fall Mitzvahs-in-a-Minute
Kick Off with a Call for Diapers

Did you know that most babies require up to a dozen diapers a day, and that one in three families in New Jersey struggle to afford diapers to keep their babies healthy and clean?

Our first Mitzvah-in-a-Minute for fall 2022 addressed that issue, with a Diaper Drive to support National Diaper Need Awareness Week, which begins on Sept. 24.   This is part of an annual #greatbigdiaperdrive designed to bring attention to a need that often goes underreported.

Nearly three dozen people dropped off donations at the NCJW/Essex office.  They brought infant diapers, toddler diapers and adult diapers, along with wipes and creams that are often overlooked, but are much in demand.

The team, led by Stacey Laken, with help from Dawn Seewald, delivered several carloads of diapers to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and the Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges.   Both organizations provide diapers and other supplies to those in need in Essex County. 

Thanks to everyone who participated.  Look for more information on upcoming Mitzvahs-in-a-Minute, including hands-on volunteering opportunities. 

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Meet our Members – Beth Randall Branigan

Beth Randall Branigan

Originally from Spring Valley, NY, Beth spent more than 30 years in Maplewood and now lives in Morris Township.

Favorite Quote:  “Try not to resist the changes that come your way.  Instead let life live through you and do not worry that your life is turning upside down.   How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” – Rumi

Beth’s “fun factor” is her granddaughter, Georgia Mae.  “I never guessed being a grandma could bring so much joy to my life.” 

Beth jokes that her Catholic next-door neighbor introduced her to Teen Dating Abuse programs, and she’s still here!   She discovered RISE and life changed.   Observing several workshops led Beth to a higher level of understanding that she needed to better care for herself.  She has since served as Chair for RISE and remains involved with the facilitators.   In addition, Beth is co-chair of our Personnel Practices Committee, on the Section Board and on the Executive Committee.  

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NCJW/Essex and NCJW's Abortion Access Week of Action

The blasts of the shofar have been used to call the Jewish people to action – whether in the spiritual or political realm. 

On Monday, Sept. 12, those sounds signaled the start of NCJW’s Abortion Access Week of Action, bringing  the Jewish community and our tradition’s wisdom and moral leadership, our thirst for justice and communal power to the fight for access to abortion for everyone. Our own Jennie Rothman, Caitlin Higgins Joy, Laurie Kahn and Stephanie Abrahams marked the day with a “sho-test” (Shofar + Protest) to kick off NCJW/Essex’s outreach. 

NCJW/Essex Sho-Test

Legislative issues dominated the middle of the week, with a call to action to reach out to legislators in New Jersey to pass the Reproductive Equity Act (S2918/A4350). New Jersey needs legislation that removes remaining cost barriers to abortion, especially for our most vulnerable communities. Visit our Reproductive Rights page to find your legislators and suggestions as to what to say when you call. 

Next, as reproductive health clinics are disappearing across the country, Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), which spread misinformation about pregnancy and abortion, are thriving. The federal Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation (SAD) Act would create a critical tool for ensuring patients’ rights to legitimate information by authorizing the Federal Trade Commission to regulate CPCs’ misleading advertising.

Thank you to our NJ representatives Mikie Sherrill, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Tom Malinowski and Josh Gottheimer who have signed on as co-sponsors in the House. And thank you to Senator Menendez for introducing the bill and Senator Booker for co-sponsoring in the Senate! There is still time to urge the House and the Senate to pass the SAD Act immediately!

Legislative Outreach
Thank You Abortion Providers

We can’t forget those on the front lines of this fight – abortion providers.  NCJW/Essex has sent more than 600 postcards to providers across our state thanking them for their work and pledging our ongoing support. 

There's More We Can Do

Now, as the NCJW Abortion Access Week of Action ends, there’s so much more we can do  NCJW/Essex is creating Abortion After Care Kits for people seeking abortion care in New Jersey.  Shop our Amazon Wishlist.  And, consider donating to the NJ Abortion Access Fund to help those who are not able to break through financial barriers to abortion care in NJ or the Jewish Fund for Abortion Access that serves and supports abortion providers. 

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Meet our Members – Claudia Sandonato

Claudia Sandonato

Claudia grew up in a small town in Northern Minnesota called Virginia.  She spent most of her adult life in the Detroit suburbs and now calls Wanaque, NJ home.

Her favorite place?  The Jersey shore!  There were only lakes where Claudia grew up! 

Favorite book read recently?   Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.  

According to Claudia, “It’s a real eye-opener.” 

Life motto:  Live according to your values! 

Claudia started with NCJW/Essex teaching job search skills workshops, specifically resume writing for the Center for Women, then learned about the Back 2 School Store and the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee.  She now proudly serves as the co-chair of the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee. 

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