More than 100 women attended NCJW/Essex’s fall Lunch & Learn, Beyond the Border: Immigration in America Today. The sold-out event was held at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston on Monday, Nov. 18.
The immigration experts on the panel were Greisa Martinez Rosas, United We Dream Deputy Executive Director; Farrin Anello, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Senior Attorney; and Rosa Huitzitzilin, Make the Road New Jersey Community Organizer. Yalidy Matos, Rutgers University Assistant Professor, moderated the discussion. The panelists addressed important topics surrounding immigration, including the politics of belonging, changes in refugee admissions, and how individuals who care about the future of our country can help. The speakers shared their individual stories and urged attendees to sign letters in support of expanding access to driver’s licenses in New Jersey.
Rosas emphasized the power of women organizing, telling the crowd, “to be a Jewish woman in a synagogue today is an act of resilience and courage.” Sharing her own story of being an undocumented immigrant, Rosas talked about difficulties she has faced and how immigrants can be treated poorly by society, adding “[immigrants] carry scars of those statements that have been made about us.” Rosas also called the current immigration system “archaic” and said that other than getting married, there’s “no pathway to citizenship.” She challenged everyone to “think about immigration in a new way.”
Anello urged attendees to focus on repairing the “broken immigration system,” and on creating fair processes for those seeking asylum. For those seeking to emigrate from some countries, “there is no realistic process,” said Anello. Anello also spoke about the desperate situations many refugees are coming from, citing that they are often “fleeing extreme forms of violence,” including gang violence and domestic violence.
Huitzitzilin spoke about the financial barriers immigrants face, and how fees associated with immigration are impossible for people trying to leave poverty to pay.
“We need to think about immigration in a new way,” stated Rosas.
Our fall Lunch & Learn, Beyond the Border: Immigration in America Today, drew a capacity crowd to hear a panel of four experts in the field of immigration address topics surrounding immigration, including the politics of belonging, changes in refugee admissions, and how individuals who care about the future of our country can help.
Thank you to our panel: Greisa Martinez Rosas, United We Dream Deputy Executive Director; Farrin Anello, ACLU of New Jersey Senior Attorney; Rosa Huitzitzilin, Make the Road New Jersey Community Organizer; and Yalidy Matos, Rutgers University Assistant Professor.
The speakers shared their individual stories and urged attendees to sign letters in support of expanding access to driver’s licenses here in New Jersey.
We are all immigrants. Now we stand with those seeking better lives for themselves and their families.
A sincere thank you to everyone who attended and signed green cards in support of expanding driver’s licenses to all New Jersey residents. If you did not attend and want to join this effort, please contact Stephanie Abrahams, Director of Advocacy, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (973) 488-0054 for more information.
Click here to view more photos from Lunch & Learn, Beyond the Border: Immigration in America Today
What can you do now?
Join us on Thursday, December 5, at 10 a.m. at the NCJW/Essex office for Advocacy-in-an-Hour.
We will be assembling correspondence packets so that male immigrant detainees, held here in New Jersey, can write to their families.
We are looking for blank greeting cards or those with messages (Happy Birthday,Thinking of You, etc.) that would be appropriate for men to send.
Bring them with you on December 5, or put them in the basket located on the small table in the reception area of the NCJW/Essex office.
Please RSVP to Stephanie Abrahams, Director of Advocacy, at email@example.com or (973) 488-0054.
Bring on the Smiles!
“I can’t wait to get new shoes! I want sparkles on them!” exclaimed a young girl to her volunteer personal shopper as they entered the store with her new cheetah print backpack opened and ready to fill. Inside the gym, walls were lined with rows of brand new coats, sneakers, and clothing. This year NCJW/Essex celebrated its 11th year of the B2SS, outfitting over 800 children with the help of more than 600 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 started with a ribbon cutting ceremony for dignitaries and supporters of the store led by NCJW/Essex President Lesley Greenstein of Summit, NJ. B2SS co-chairs Andrea Mintz, Stacey Laken and Laurie Schuftan, all Livingston, NJ residents, joined with dignitaries to cut the ribbon. What followed was a long line of excited children, eager to enter and pick out their new items. The children, referred by over 35 social service agencies, were each greeted by a volunteer personal shopper who assisted them through their shopping journey. 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 where they could speak with representatives from organizations such as Advocates for Children NJ, the Essex County Family Justice Center, the NCJW/Essex Center for Women, Planned Parenthood of Metro NJ and the Rachel Coalition. University Hospital, a major participant at the Gaelen Family Resource Center, offered free health screenings and health information throughout the day.
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 2018-19, parents paid an average of $637 on school supplies for elementary school children. In Essex County alone, 21% of households with children lived below the poverty level in 2017. NCJW/Essex believes that no child should start off the school year already behind, and has put together the B2SS for the past eleven years to meet this need. All of the items given away at the B2SS are free to children and their families.
“The entire experience was extraordinary from beginning to end,” said Debra Goldsmith, a volunteer personal shopper from North Caldwell, NJ. “Interacting with such eager children and being a part of the positive environment that NCJW/Essex creates at the Back 2 School Store is inspiring. I’m so glad to be a part of it.”
Ranging from college students to grandparents, the passion each volunteer brought was undeniable through the evident excitement expressed from 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!
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 on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Cedar Hill Country Club in Livingston, NJ.
Leslie Lavinthal of Florham Park, 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. Lavinthal has been a steadfast and productive member of NCJW/Essex for 45 years. Initially drawn to the organization because she was new to her neighborhood, she found the women to be intelligent and committed to community service. She has held multiple leadership positions including Co-Chair of the Back 2 School Store, Vice President of the Center for Women, and currently Assistant Treasurer. She has loved the hands-on opportunities, such as helping women at the Career Closet. With her training as a special education teacher, she has especially enjoyed helping children attending the Back 2 School Store and supporting young children who have suffered losses through the peer support group, Rainbows.
Elisa Madorsky of Livingston, NJ, was the recipient of the Henrietta Weiser Emerging Leader Award, presented by NCJW/Essex to a promising member who has demonstrated leadership potential. Madorsky has worked tirelessly in her commitment to NCJW/Essex and demonstrated talent at taking on leadership roles. She first became involved at the Back 2 School Store in 2014 and has since increased her involvement with this event as well as others. She spearheaded a Lunch and Learn on gun violence prevention with Sandy Hook Promise, and later joined the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, working to bring art supplies to victims of trafficking housed at Covenant House in Newark. Additionally, she chaired Mitzvah-in-a-Minute (MIM), offering quick community service projects that make a difference, and in 2018 assumed the role as Vice President of Advocacy, a position she will continue in the year to come.
Marion Medow of Livingston, 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. Medow has consistently stepped up to lend a hand during her many years in New Jersey – in her synagogue, Hadassah, the Livingston PTA and Jewish Family Service of MetroWest (JFS) where she recently completed her term as President from 2016-2018. A strong advocate for reducing the stigma of mental health issues, Medow first learned about JFS through NCJW’s participation in the launch of the Rachel Coalition, a division of JFS. Her work at NCJW/Essex has spanned a broad cross-section including chairing fundraisers as well as community service initiatives. From 2004-2006 she served as President, the culmination of her many years of active participation in the section.