Three Local Students Honored with Nancy and Robert Eskow Volunteer Awards

The National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) recently honored three exceptional Essex County high school students with the Nancy and Robert Eskow Volunteer Awards. In its 17th year, the recipients of the awards are recognized for their outstanding contributions to many different causes and for their long-term volunteer efforts.

The 2020 award winners are Jack Cunningham of West Essex Regional High School, and Renata Curcio, and Chloe Mathewson, both of Verona High School. These high school seniors have shown a dedication to improving the lives of others locally and globally. 

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.

Pictured from left to right: Jack Cunningham – West Essex High School; Chloe Mathewson – Verona High School; Renata Curcio Verona – High School

How to Host Your Own “Time of the Month” Collection for the Period.Project

Launched in November 2018, the extremely successful “Time of the Month” initiative (TOTM) has brought in new volunteers as well as increased awareness of the issue of menstrual equity with our membership, the public and the agencies we collect for. Since its inception, through the generosity of our volunteers, friends, family and colleagues we have collected and distributed over 2,200 packages of product (over 90,000 units).

To date, we have collected product for agencies such as Holy Trinity Food Pantry in West Orange, Morristown Community Soup Kitchen, Family Promise-Morris County Chapter, IFPO, Interfaith Hospitality Network, the Department of Child Protection and Permanency in Newark, Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey, North Jersey Community Research Initiative (NCJRI) and Rent Party Pantry in Maplewood.

A “Time of the Month” volunteer serves as a representative of NCJW/ESSEX and an ambassador of the project. Your role is to identify an agency, reach out to friends, colleagues, neighbors, family and collect product for an entire month to be donated to the agency you have selected.

It’s easy, fun, and life-changing to do a Time of the Month collection!

1) Choose an agency/organization/temple/church that is important to you for your collection. If you would like, we can supply you with an NCJW/Essex agency. If you do have an agency in mind, please let us know which one as we would like the opportunity to vet them first.

2) After you have selected an agency, contact them and let them know that you are a representative from NCJW/ESSEX Period.Project. Give them a little history about the TOTM (see above) and ask them if they would like to be the recipients of a month long collection of menstrual product. If you feel comfortable, you can ask what type of product they prefer (pads, tampons). You can also ask how many women/girls they serve each month.
3) After you have spoken with your agency, reach out to your contacts. Below are some examples of letters you can send or post on social media. Feel free to modify them, but please be sure to include that you are doing this collection for NCJW/Essex Period.Project.

Sample email:

Hello friends!

As part of an NCJW/Essex Period.Project initiative called Time of the Month, I will be collecting menstrual products for the (agency name) in (town) through the end of _(month)__.

Each month, there are women and girls in our neighborhood and all throughout the county and state that cannot afford, or do not have access menstrual product. Women are often forced to make difficult financial decisions and often times miss work. Girls frequently miss school…

I hope you will join me in this cause by donating new, unopened menstrual products to name of agency. I will be accepting pads of all sizes, tampons, mini pads and feminine wipes.

Please check out our website for more information and be sure to scroll down and watch our two minute video,
Please drop donations at my house (front door please) __address_____.

Thank you very much!! We so appreciate your generosity!!

PS- Pick- ups or other arrangements can be made as well

Hi Facebook friends —

Did you know that there are women and girls who cannot afford or do not have access to menstrual products? This month I am collecting menstrual products for _(agency name)_ in __(town)__ on behalf of the NCJW/Essex Period.Project. You can help raise awareness about this important issue and directly help women and girls living only a few miles away from us by donating products that will go directly to (name of agency).

I hope you will join me! Please PM me for more details (drop off location/day/time). To learn more about the Period.Project, visit Thank you for your support!

4) Some people have chosen to purchase product on Amazon and have it sent to your house, rather than purchase product at a local store. This is an excellent idea and you can certainly mention it to your contacts. If they do chose do donate this way, please have them include a gift card so you will know who the recipient is.

5) As your collections start rolling in, please keep a tally of how many boxes or packages of pads, tampons, liners, etc., you receive as well as the total individual units broken out by type of product. Some people donate boxes of 96 or 120 (!!) and you don’t get a real scope of how much product is donated unless you figure the total number of units. As you can see above, we received 90,000 thousand units of product and 2,200 packages.

6) When you are finished with your collection, contact the agency and let them know that you would like to drop off the product. Please be sure to take lots of photos when you do! And finally, please send us your photos along with your completed tally. THANK YOU!

Thank you so much for your passion and dedication to this cause and for working towards menstrual equity for all women. Our goal is to erase period stigma, bring awareness to this issue that affects us all and make menstrual product available to all women.

If you are interested in collecting for a TOTM or have any questions at all, please feel free to contact us:

Laurie Kahn
Jeanne Gordon

NCJW/Essex Volunteers Take Annual Back 2 School Store Mobile to Meet the Needs of 1,000 Essex County Kids

LIVINGSTON, NJ – This summer, NCJW/Essex held their 12th Annual Back 2 School Store, and first-ever Mobile Back 2 School Store (B2SS). 

In previous years, the B2SS provided Essex County children in financial need a chance to “shop” for free clothing, sneakers, school supplies and personal care items in a one-day-only “store” set up just for them in the Livingston, NJ area.   

However, due to the pandemic, social distancing requirements, and public health concerns, the traditional B2SS had to be completely re-imagined for 2020. Volunteers worked together to adapt the format and to make sure the children served would still be able to receive the many important items supplied by the B2SS to help ensure a great start to the upcoming school year. 

In order to make this happen, volunteers set-up tents, created packing stations, and every morning for close to two weeks worked in small group shifts to ensure safety at a private home in Short Hills. Working outdoors in the extreme heat, volunteers packed individual backpacks and packages, then loaded them into vehicles for delivery to social service agencies located throughout Essex County, including Newark, East Orange, Livingston, Bloomfield and Montclair.  

“It was a true logistical challenge packing and delivering hundreds of backpacks and supplies, but we did it thanks to everyone’s commitment and can-do attitude,” shared Penina Barr, NCJW/Essex President. “This effort is so important; we knew we couldn’t let the pandemic stop us.” 

NCJW/Essex worked in collaboration with hundreds of donors who provided financial support and product donations. Due to the efforts of Livingston Town Councilman Michael Vieira, transportation provided by Essex County allowed NCJW/Essex to get hundreds of boxes with backpacks and packages to 40 partner agencies which then safely directly distributed these items to Essex County children in financial need.  

According to the B2SS Committee Chairs, Laurie Schuftan, Stacey Laken, and Lauren Tabak Fass, the B2SS provided 1,000 children in Essex County with backpacks, school supplies, personal care items, face masks, games, and a handwritten note, each one created by one of the hundreds of NCJW/Essex volunteers of all ages participating in this initiative. 

“The children and families in the Essex County community who are served by the Back 2 School Store have been among the hardest hit during these extraordinary times, and we knew we had to find a way to bring the store to them, safely and securely,” said Caitlin Higgins Joy, Executive Director of NCJW/Essex, adding, “we are so grateful to our volunteers who worked tirelessly to make this happen.” 

Welcome David Pasternack, Director of Resource Development!

David Pasternack recently joined NCJW/Essex as the Director of Resource Development. David brings over 20 years of nonprofit experience with organizations such as Hadassah and American Heart Association.

While at Hadassah, David served as Chief Development Officer and helped complete a $325 million dollar capital campaign to build 13 underground operating rooms at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

At American Heart Association, David was on the team that launched the award-winning GO RED FOR WOMEN heart program, which is credited with saving thousands of women’s lives. He also was Executive Director for the New York office of Israel Bonds for 5 years where they sold over $200 million annually to benefit the State of Israel.

David is a graduate of the University of Georgia where he majored in Business. His passion for theater and travel is shared by his one daughter, Hillary. Contact David at

Call to Action: Thank the Primary Sponsors and Co-Sponsors of the Reproductive Freedom Act (S3030/A4848*)


Dear [Senator/Assemblyperson], 

Thank you to the elected officials and ThriveNJ coalition members who worked to introduce the Reproductive Freedom Act S3030/A4848 to ensure
reproductive rights, equity, and access for ALL.

With the Reproductive Freedom Act, New Jersey will protect access to time-sensitive care and prioritize the health and well-being of all people
who need reproductive health care, such as birth control and pregnancyrelated care, including abortion.

When people can make decisions that are best for their lives without fear or interference from others, families thrive, and we build communities where each of us can participate with dignity and equality.
Let’s move forward together to pass the Reproductive Freedom Act now!
Thank you,
[Your Name]

You can contact the legislators in a number of ways — either by phone, email or Twitter.

NCJW Essex/Back 2 School Store needs your help creating personal notes for Phase 2 of our Mobile B2SS!

This summer, NCJW/Essex delivered backpacks filled with school supplies, personal care items and more, to 1,000 children in need during Phase 1 of our Mobile Back 2 School Store. Each backpack included a handwritten note which added a personal touch.

Plans are already underway for the final phase of our Mobile B2SS, when we will distribute much needed warm weather clothes to these same children. We will again include a personal note in each package, to encourage each child to make the most of their school year.

Here is where we need you! We want to offer you, your children or grandchildren the opportunity to create uplifting “Warm Wishes for Cool Weather” notes that will bring a smile to a child’s face. The notes can be simple or elaborate, and feel free to make several since we need 1,000 of these notes!

Instructions for “Warm Wishes” notes:

  • Print the image that can be found by clicking here. The message you write should be unisex and appropriate for any child in Kindergarten through 5th grade
    • Wondering what to say in the note? Here are a few suggestions:
      • I bet you can’t wait until it snows and you can go outside to build a snowman! Here is some stuff to keep you warm while you are having fun!
      • We’ve got you covered from head to toe! Stay warm and study hard! 
      • Enjoy this cool stuff for the cold weather!
  • Decorate with your own markers/crayons and you can even add stickers if you want.
  • Mail the completed “Warm Wishes” notes to the NCJW office or drop off during business hours by Friday, October 16 at noon to NCJW/Essex B2SS, 70 South Orange Avenue, Suite 120, Livingston, NJ 07039

Don’t forget to send us photos!!! Send us pictures of you and your loved ones creating these notes and we’ll share them online!!! Email images to

By sending your photo, you grant permission to the National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section the irrevocable right to use your name (and the names of any others that appear in the photo that you disclose) and the photograph for reproduction in any print or electronic medium, including social media, for advertising, display, exhibition or editorial use.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask Ellen Staple, Manager of Membership and Resource Development at

Susie Botwinick and Sherri Fendelman, NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store Volunteer Co-chairs

Lauren Fass, Lori Gelman and Rachel Khedouri, NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store Co-Chairs

Join Ruth’s Revolution

Join Ruth’s Revolution. May Her Memory Be a Revolution #Ruthless

My heritage as a Jew and my occupation as a judge fit together symmetrically. The demand for justice runs through the entirety of Jewish history and tradition.

 – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 

We were devastated by the loss of Justice Ginsburg, and we mourn with America. Few people have so irrevocably altered the lives of so many. Ideas that once seemed so radical, today are common sense because of her efforts – chief among them equal protection of the law and what that means for the most vulnerable among us, including women, children and families.  

But we cannot simply mourn. Our heritage demands that we take action to honor her legacy.  

Let’s do this. 

1. Justice Ginsburg always chose her words carefully from her early years as a lawyer arguing landmark cases to her powerful dissenting opinions from the bench of the US Supreme Court, and finally, her dying wish to her granddaughter that her seat not be filled until the next president is sworn in.  Together let’s ensure her seat is filled only after every vote is counted.  Sign the petition here and text RBG to 50409 to have Resistbot automatically send signed letters to your Senators urging them to keep her seat vacant.

2. There is a custom in many Jewish communities that, at the end of a shiva period, mourners take a walk around the block to symbolically mark the end of an intensely inward time and return to the world. As such, NCJW/Essex will join with other NCJW sections and Jewish communities across the country as we take a symbolic walk around our blocks or local courthouses on Friday, October 2, at noon. We will circle our office at 70 South Orange Avenue to remind people that this work in the world matters, critically. Please bring a mask. We will be observing socially distancing. Email Stephanie Abrahams, Director of Advocacy, at to RSVP. 

3. Honor Justice Ginsburg by celebrating her life. Join us for a virtual group tour of The Illinois Holocaust Museum Exhibit: “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” Curator Arielle Weininger will discuss the history of RBG and the exhibition, complete with embedded audio, video and photographs of artifacts as seen in the exhibition. A live Q&A with a docent will follow. There are two sessions, Tuesday, October 6, at 1 p.m. and Thursday, October 8, at 5 p.m. Register here

Phase 1 of the Mobile Back 2 School Store is complete!

Phase 1 of the Mobile Back 2 School Store is complete! We are proud to have equipped 1,000 children with backpacks, school supplies, toothbrushes, toothpaste, games, face masks, and socks all thanks to our incredible sponsors, our amazing volunteers, staff members and agency partners. A special thank you to everyone whose donations made this possible. WE DID IT! Please consider a donation to the B2SS to keep the effort going, and stay tuned for Phase 2!