10th Anniversary Smiles! Over 850 Children at Back 2 School Store

10th Anniversary Smiles!

Over 850 Children Shop Cost-Free at the NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store

LIVINGSTON, NJ, August 9, 2018– The 10th Annual NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store (B2SS) brought grins all around on Sunday, July 29th as hundreds of children went shopping at a one-day pop-up store designed to help economically disadvantaged children in Essex County, NJ.

“I love my new backpack and I got to pick it out myself!” exclaimed one little girl to her mother as she emerged from the store with a bag brimming with back-to-school items. Inside the gym, walls were lined with coats, rows of brand new sneakers, and racks and racks of clothing. This year NCJW/Essex celebrated its 10th anniversary of the B2SS with its largest event to date, outfitting 860 children with the help of nearly 550 volunteers. The children shopped for brand new clothing, school supplies and personal care items, encouraging a well-equipped and confident start to the new school year.

The day kicked off with a ribbon cutting ceremony for dignitaries and supporters of the store led by Summit resident Lesley Greenstein, NCJW/Essex President. B2SS co-chairs Andrea Mintz and Stacey Laken of Livingston, and Karen Cherins of West Orange, joined with dignitaries to cut the ribbon. What followed was a long line of excited children, eager to enter and pick out brand new pants, shirts, winter coats, sneakers, gloves, socks, undergarments and hats, as well as personal care items, school supplies and brand new books. The children, referred by over 30 social service agencies, were each greeted by a personal shopper who led them on their shopping excursion. This year’s event was held at Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, NJ.

While the children shopped, parents and guardians visited the onsite Gaelen Family Resource Center. Lining the walls were organizations such as Advocates for Children NJ, the Essex County Family Justice Center, KinderSmile Foundation, the NCJW/Essex Center for Women, Planned Parenthood of Metro NJ, and the Rachel Coalition along with University Hospital which offered free health screenings and health information.

The cost of school supplies is often overlooked as a major annual expense. Families that are living in poverty struggle with the rising cost demands of public education. In Essex County alone, 24% of households with children lived below the poverty level in 2015. NCJW/Essex believes that no child should start off the school year already behind, and has put together the B2SS for the past ten years to meet this need.

“This place is so cool!” said an 8-year-old boy trying on some trendy sneakers. “Beautiful!” exclaimed a 5-year-old girl as she struck a pose in the mirror with a hot pink coat trimmed with faux fur. The day was summed up by one volunteer personal shopper who said, “The whole experience of interacting with the kids, seeing so many volunteers hard at work and the positive environment that is created is simply extraordinary.”

Ranging from college students to grandparents, the passion each volunteer brought was undeniably visible through the broad smiles of hundreds of children who filled the store. With three shifts throughout the day, volunteers underwent specific training on how to optimize the shopping experience for each child. 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.

Each year the Back 2 School Store is supported by grants and generous financial contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations, enabling the children to “shop” cost-free but leave with million-dollar smiles!

Career Closet Recipient of Handbag Trade-in Days from Brighton Collectibles

NCJW/Essex Career Closet is the Recipient of

Handbag Trade-In Days from Brighton Collectibles at the Mall at Short Hills


LIVINGSTON, NJ, July 26, 2018 – The Career Closet, a program of the Linda and Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women, was the recipient of a special trade-in event at the fashion accessories store Brighton Collectibles that took place from July 13th to 22nd. This is the seventh year the Brighton Collectibles store at the Mall at Short Hills participated in this event with the Career Closet being the recipient.

“Brighton is to be commended for its support of women entering the workforce who are faced with the financial challenge of having interview and work appropriate clothing,” said Beverly Trust, co-chair of the Career Closet. “This is really a wonderful thing for the NCJW/Essex Career Closet.”

Brighton offered $25 – $50 off new handbags when buyers traded in their own gently-used handbags. The gently-used handbags were then donated to the Career Closet. This year the Career Closet received 75 handbags from the annual 10-day event.

Volunteers at the NCJW/Essex Career Closet, located in Livingston, NJ, serve as personal shoppers to assist women in obtaining career attire and accessories appropriate for the workplace. Women are referred by the NCJW/Essex Center for Women and other social service agencies and receive coordinating clothing and accessories appropriate for interviewing and the workplace at no cost. The objective is to help women enter an interview or begin a new job with confidence. The Career Closet is open to clients by appointment only.

Mary Ricciuto, Store Manager at Brighton Collectibles in Short Hills, explained that throughout the year Brighton For Good partners with organizations at both the local and national level to give back to communities in a variety of ways. “By donating a gently used handbag at the Handbag Trade-In event, a woman in need is given a small luxury that others may take for granted,” she said. “Both Brighton Collectibles and the NCJW/Essex Career Closet benefit from this wonderful collaboration.”

Lesley Greenstein of Summit NJ, Assumes Presidency of NCJW/Essex

Lesley Greenstein of Summit, NJ, Assumes Presidency of NCJW/Essex

Lesley Greenstein of Summit, NJ, was installed as President of the National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) at the organization’s annual Installation and Awards Evening at Cedar Hill Country Club in Livingston. She assumes her role effective July 1, 2018.

A natural and resourceful leader, Greenstein has a long history with NCJW in numerous capacities and is committed to the goal of making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. In her role as president, she aims to strengthen fund development to support the organization’s advocacy efforts and the ever growing programs at the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women that better the lives of women, children and families.

Passing the gavel to her at the installation was her mother, Ruth Cohen of South Orange, NJ, a long-time member of NCJW.  “Lesley opened her heart to NCJW and has emerged as a leader,” remarked Cohen in her introduction. “She inspires confidence working with others.” Outgoing president Shari Harrison, who has served two years at the helm of the organization, said of Ms. Greenstein, “I know in passing the gavel to Lesley, NCJW/Essex will be in very capable hands.”

Greenstein, who has a degree in elementary education from George Washington University, noted that she has learned that pioneers can be any age – from teenagers to grandmothers – if something matters enough. “The pioneers of NCJW/Essex are exceptional,” she remarked. “They have been responsible for the start and implementation of amazing programs that provide women with the impetus to move forward by taking care of themselves and their families. I believe the passionate and smart volunteers of NCJW can accomplish just about anything they put their hearts and minds to.”

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

Three Essex County Students Win the Annual

Nancy and Robert Eskow NCJW/Essex Volunteer Awards

LIVINGSTON, NJ, June 13, 2018The 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. The recipients of the awards were recognized for their outstanding contributions to many different causes including teaching dance to disabled children and young adults, collecting over 1000 swim caps and goggles for an organization that helps disabled students, and building homes for the homeless. This is the 15th year the award has been bestowed to deserving high school students.

The 2018 award winners include Cianna Winkler of Verona High School, Ryan Martynowicz of Seton Hall Preparatory School, and Sabrina Szalay of James Caldwell High School. These high school seniors have shown a commitment and dedication to improving lives for others locally and globally. This year’s winners of the Nancy and Robert Eskow NCJW Volunteer Awards each received a $500 scholarship and a commemorative certificate.

Cianna Winkler, a senior at Verona High School, is an honor roll student and Girl Scout with a strong passion for helping others.  She is actively engaged with her church, including reading to the younger children. Her activities led her to develop a coloring book teaching younger children about life without shoes and to organize a shoe drive for people in Africa.  Among her many charitable activities, Winkler successfully co-founded a Sunday Supper program that feeds between 30-40 families in need and has sponsored a coat drive, collecting over 6000 coats for the Human Needs Food Panty in Montclair, NJ. Her involvement teaching dance to disabled children and young adults on a volunteer basis is leading her to pursue a career in Special Education.

Ryan Martynowicz from Florham Park, a senior at Seton Hall Preparatory School believes, “If people find a connection to a cause they will be more committed to giving back.” This has led him to several opportunities to give back to his community. His love for swim sparked an interest in starting a swim goggle drive for disabled children where he collected over 1000 swim caps and goggles to benefit Holy Childhood in Rochester, NY, which helps intellectually and developmentally disabled students. Additionally, Martynowicz brought awareness to his fellow classmates about organ donation due to a close family friend’s health situation, and he organized an annual lecture devoted to concussion awareness after he suffered a concussion from swimming.

Sabrina Szalay, a senior at James Caldwell High School, took her own struggles and turned them into a way to help others.  Sabrina had a life changing experience after her father lost his job, forcing her family to downsize and rely on food stamps to survive. She believed that this struggle impacted her life and opened her eyes to what’s going on around her in her own community. This led her to joining Habitat for Humanity where she volunteered and worked to open a chapter at her school. Additionally, Szalay volunteered at the St. John Soup Kitchen in Newark, helping to serve meals to the homeless. “I believe no one should have to live life homeless and hungry,” she said, “and I devote my time to helping those let fortunate, hoping to make a change in their lives.”

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 received a $500 scholarship and an award certificate from NCJW/Essex.

Three Women Honored at the 2018 Installation and Awards Evening

Three Women Honored at the

NCJW/Essex Annual Installation and Awards Evening

LIVINGSTON, NJ, June 9, 2018 – 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, May 30, 2018 at Cedar Hill Country Club in Livingston, NJ.

Patti Nathan of West Orange, 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. With her trademark spirit and boundless energy, Nathan conveys a passion and a commitment to community activism. Blending advocacy and volunteer activities in her life, she has dedicated herself to improving the lives of others by being involved in NCJW/Essex and her local community. She is an active volunteer at the Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges as well as at her synagogue, B’nai Jeshurun. She has been a reading mentor, worked with at-risk teens and was involved in the SOMA Adult School Board. A member of NCJW since 1955, Nathan helped spearhead the Kids Emergency Closet and has participated in the Back 2 School Store, Nominations, the Period Project, and Impact Finance committees.

Penny Sherry of West Orange, NJ, was the recipient of the NCJW/Essex Service to Section Award, recognized as a member of NCJW/Essex whose generosity and resolute work as a volunteer  has changed the lives of women, children and families. A member of NCJW/Essex for over four decades, Sherry was drawn to NCJW/Essex as a place with a mission that she believed in and women she could relate to.  She kicked off several successful fundraisers including the Hannah’s Sisters tapestry, the Golf Outing, and the Card and Mah Jongg Party. She has held numerous leadership roles including chairperson of the Gala, the Golf Outing, the Card Party, and Lunch and Learn committees, as well as working with the annual Back 2 School Store.

Susie Botwinick of West Caldwell, NJ, was the recipient of the Henrietta Weiser Emerging Leader Award, presented by NCJW/Essex to a promising member who has demonstrated leadership potential. With an energetic style and can-do attitude, Botwinick has immersed herself in numerous leadership roles within NCJW/Essex including chairperson of volunteers for the Back 2 School Store, a speaker event with “The Moms,” three Opening Events and the Eskow Awards committee. In 2017 she became Vice President of Communications, a position she will continue in the year to come.