#EndDemand: Fighting Sex Trafficking

A special evening event, #EndDemand: Fighting Sex Trafficking – Our Children at Risk, was held in late November at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, NJ, and featured a dynamic discussion with a distinguished panel of speakers. The panel helped to shine a light on the motivations of those who promote sex trafficking, what New Jersey is doing to combat trafficking, what social service agencies are trying to do to help those who have been caught up in the web of trafficking and, most importantly, what can be done to combat this horrific problem.

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery, asserted Lauren Hersh, moderator of the panel and co-founder of World Without Exploitation. “It is the fastest growing human enterprise in the world because the profit is high and the risk to exploiters is low.” Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle of the NJ General Assembly, 37th district concurred, noting that human trafficking, and in particular sex trafficking, is a “debasement of our common humanity.” In 2013, Rep. Huttle sponsored bipartisan legislation in New Jersey, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act.

Attendees came away with a new found determination to join the fight to eradicate sex trafficking. NCJW/Essex is seeking participants to spearhead new efforts to bring this issue to light and educate the community and our children. “Awareness of the issue is a start,” said Sharon Falkin of West Orange, NJ who attended. “I want to encourage our legislators to take bold steps against traffickers.”

This program was co-sponsored by local organizations who share the goal of eradicating sex trafficking including: Temple B’nai Abraham of Livingston, the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking, the Community Relations Committee of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, the Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey, Hadassah of Northern NJ, Temple Emanu-El of Westfield, Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, Monarch Housing Associates, Church Abolition Network, Covenant House, Jewish Women’s Foundation, World Without Exploitation, NCJW Bergen County Section and NCJW West Morris Section.

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Carol Cohen, (second from left), Chairwoman of the NCJW/Essex Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, is pictured with (from left): Nicole Bryan, PhD, Principal Investigator & Strategic Advisor, Human Trafficking Research, moderator Lauren Hersh, co-founder of World Without Exploitation, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle of the New Jersey General Assembly, 37th District, and Jayne Bigelsen, Director of Anti-Human Trafficking Initiatives at Covenant House, NY.

#EndDemand: Fighting Sex Trafficking

The effects of sexism and misogyny are far reaching and their most terrifying manifestation is sex trafficking. How has the internet made it easier for men to exploit girls and women for sex? What compels men to abuse women in this way? Is there a justification to legalize prostitution? How can we combat sex trafficking in our own communities?

Join the National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) for a dynamic discussion featuring a panel of speakers with experience in helping victims and combatting sex trafficking — #EndDemand: Fighting Sex Trafficking – Our Children At Risk — on Wednesday evening, November 30, 2016. The program will be held at Temple B’nai Abraham, 300 Northfield Road, Livingston, NJ, at 7:00 pm.

This Dessert and Dialogue will feature a distinguished panel of speakers who will shine a light on the motivations of those who exploit girls and women and promote sex trafficking, what New Jersey is doing to combat trafficking, what social service agencies are trying to do to help those who have been caught up in the web of trafficking and, most importantly, what can be done to combat this horrific problem that exists right here in the United States.

Our panel of speakers, with experience in helping victims and combatting sex trafficking includes: Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle of the New Jersey General Assembly, 37th District, Jayne Bigelsen, Director of Anti-Human Trafficking Initiatives at Covenant House, NY, and Nicole Bryan, PhD, Principal Investigator & Strategic Advisor, Human Trafficking Research. The panel will be moderated by Lauren Hersh, co-founder of World Without Exploitation.

The goal is for attendees to come away with a new found determination to join the fight to eradicate sex trafficking. NCJW/Essex welcomes participants to spearhead new efforts to bring this issue to light and educate the community and our children. One tangible effort already underway is a collection of art supplies for the Art Therapy Program at Covenant House to help victims of sex trafficking. Any art supplies are welcome, such as markers, scissors, adult coloring books, paint, paint brushes, construction paper and play dough, and can be dropped off the night of the program.

“#EndDemand: Fighting Sex Trafficking – Our Children At Risk” is being co-sponsored by Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking, the Community Relations Committee of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, the Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey, Hadassah of Northern NJ, Temple Emanu-El of Westfield, Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, Monarch Housing Associates, Church Abolition Network, Covenant House, Jewish Women’s Foundation, World Without Exploitation, NCJW Bergen County Section and NCJW West Morris Section.

Pre-registration is required. The program fee is $15 per person and includes coffee, tea and desserts.  To register, please call 973-740-0588 or visit www.ncjwessex.org.

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Dahlia Lithwick Draws Crowd at Opening Event

NCJW/Essex enjoyed a full house at the 2016 Opening Event on November 3, 2016 at Brooklake Country Club featuring award-winning journalist and legal commentator Dahlia Lithwick as keynote speaker. In a timely address, Lithwick, a contributing editor at Newsweek and a senior editor at Slate, spoke about the Supreme Court and why it matters to an audience of several hundred people.

“The Supreme Court tries to be faithful to our Constitution while at the same time strives for justice,” said Lithwick, adding that paradoxically, it is also partisan and political. She referred to the Court as a precious institution and the “crown jewel of our democracy.” But, she explained that with the Senate blocking the appointment of nominee Merrick Garland for the seat previously held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court is stymied in a 4-4 tie. The vacancy on the bench is among the longest vacancies on the Supreme Court in U.S. history.

Lithwick writes the “Supreme Court Dispatches” and “Jurisprudence” columns for Slate.  Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper’s, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and Commentary, among others, and she has appeared as a frequent guest on CNN, ABC, The Colbert Report, The Rachel Maddow Show and National Public Radio. She won a 2013 National Magazine Award for her columns on the Affordable Care Act. She has twice been recognized with an Online Journalism Award for her legal commentary and was the first online journalist invited to be on the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press.

“The Supreme Court is boring and wonky, but also magical and mystifying, and it matters so very much,” remarked Lithwick who cautioned that we are getting perilously close to a constitutional crisis and warned that the Court is too important an institution to be delegitimized. “It is heartbreaking that we are breaking it.”

Also speaking at the program was Janine Garubo Austin, managing partner at the Anthony Garubo Salon in Maplewood, NJ, which has donated its time and talent to help empower clients of the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women clients for the past three years. “We have the ability to transform someone with a pair of scissors and hair dye,” commented Garubo, “but we are just polishing the shell to let inner light shine a little brighter. These women are on a brave path of reinventing themselves and rebuilding confidence. Our staff has found that to give is to receive, and they are humbled and gratified to help.”

“The heartfelt and powerful messages from both of these women resonated at our Opening Event,” said Shari Harrison, president NCJW/Essex.  “Our hope is that attendees recognize that whether it concerns the Supreme Court, a small business, or an individual client from our Center for Women, what we do matters. We encourage everyone to channel their interests and talents and get involved.”

Shining Examples of Philanthropy & Leadership Honored at Gala

The National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) held a Spotlight Gala to honor two couples who have shown unflagging support of the organization and to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women.

The Spotlight Gala, held at Crestmont Country Club in West Orange, NJ, on Sunday, September 25, 2016, honored Sharon and Stuart Falkin of West Orange, NJ, and Jill and Alan Johnson of Montclair, NJ. Both couples have embodied the spirit of NCJW/Essex with their continuous contributions of support, involvement and leadership, making a difference in the lives of women, children and families throughout Essex County and New Jersey.

NCJW/Essex has been an advocate for social change in Essex County for more than 100 years.  Over 200 benefactors, volunteers, friends, family and staff were proud to pay tribute to the Falkins, the Johnsons and the Center for Women at the Spotlight Gala.

“We are very fortunate that the Falkins and the Johnsons care so deeply about our communities,” said Shari Harrison, NCJW/Essex President. “They have proven that giving both time and money to an organization is rewarding when you believe in the mission and know that what you give has an impact.”

The evening also featured recognition of the 35th anniversary of the Center for Women and included comments from a client of the Center who has utilized many of the services available including the Career Closet, self-empowerment workshops, computer classes, job clubs and more. In addressing Gala attendees, she stated, “I have found my voice by using every single service that the Center for Women offers.  And I thank every single one of you here tonight for supporting the Center… You have all made it possible for my three children to be proud and inspired to watch their mom grow and never ever give up!”

The evening festivities wrapped up with a special performance by the Unexpected Boys, an a cappella singing group which brought the best of Broadway to the Spotlight Gala.

Opening Event to Feature Dahlia Lithwick — The Supreme Court: Why it Matters

 

The National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) announces its 2016 Opening Event featuring award winning journalist Dahlia Lithwick, a contributing editor at Newsweek and senior editor at Slate. The NCJW/Essex Opening Event will take place on Thursday, November 3rd at 7:30 p.m., at Brooklake Country Club, 139 Brooklake Road, Florham Park, NJ.

Lithwick writes the “Supreme Court Dispatches” and “Jurisprudence” columns for Slate, and functions as a legal correspondent, often providing summaries of and commentary on current U.S. Supreme Court cases. She has been featured in The New York Times, Harper’s, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and Commentary and has appeared as a guest on National Public Radio, CNN, ABC, The Colbert Report and as a frequent guest on The Rachel Maddow Show. Her work related to the Affordable Care Act won her a 2013 National Magazine Award and she has twice been recognized with Online Journalism Awards for her legal commentary. Additionally, she was the first online journalist invited to be on the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. She is co-author of Me v. Everybody: Absurd Contracts for an Absurd World (Workman Publishing, 2003), a legal humor book, and I Will Sing Life: Voices from the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp (Little, Brown & Co., 1992), a book about seven children from Paul Newman’s camp who have life-threatening illnesses.

 

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 ncjwessex.org.

“The stakes in the upcoming 2016 election regarding the Supreme Court are high and it’s likely that the next President will have at least two or three appointments in the first term,” says Shari Harrison, president NCJW/Essex. “A single Supreme Court vote can alter the political and moral discourse in our country for decades to come. I can think of no one better to explain this impact than the knowledgeable and engaging Dahlia Lithwick. We look forward to hearing about where the court goes from here and why it matters.”

Conversation about Gun Violence with Nation’s Leading Advocates for Gun Safety

NCJW/Essex is sponsoring a Lunch and Learn – #ENOUGH: A Conversation About Gun Violence – featuring Mark Barden, Managing Director of Sandy Hook Promise and Kim Russell, Regional Organizing Manager for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The program will take place on Thursday, October 20, 2016, from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm.

“As mass shootings, lock down drills and alarming social media threats become more commonplace, even close to home here in Essex County, we must look for ways to keep our families and neighborhoods safe,” explains Shari Harrison, President, NCJW/Essex. “We are thrilled to welcome Mark Barden and Kim Russell to educate and inspire us to look at gun violence prevention from their personal experience as well as from a community perspective.”

Barden and Russell are leading advocates of community and legislative efforts to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose a danger to themselves, their families and others. Both have experienced first-hand the horror and devastation that goes hand-in-hand with gun violence.  Sandy Hook Promise is an organization started by parents whose children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, whose purpose is to educate and empower parents, schools and community organizations on ways to prevent gun violence before it happens. Similarly, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence aims to create a safer America by cutting gun deaths in half by the year 2025.

Gun violence prevention has become one of the most challenging issues of our time. While national attention has focused on the failure of Congress to enact sensible gun safety legislation, this Lunch and Learn will highlight research-based methods to help identify and intervene in situations involving at-risk youth. Responsible gun ownership as a means of suicide and child access prevention will also be addressed.

The Lunch and Learn is being co-sponsored by Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, NJ, and the Community Relations Committee of Jewish Federation of MetroWest NJ. The event will be held at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, 432 Scotland Road, South Orange, NJ. Pre-registration is required. NCJW/Essex members: $20; Nonmembers: $25; includes a buffet lunch. To register, please call 973-740-0588 or visit www.ncjwessex.org.

CFW Staff Profile: 35 Years & Going Strong

The Linda and Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, helping women find a safe and nurturing place to go as a resource for self-improvement and self-empowerment. The Center’s environment fosters networking and offers resources for women who are in transition in their lives or careers.

The Center for Women, a unique nonsectarian nonprofit community service, is available to all women in Essex County and the surrounding area. It has helped thousands of women with job searches, computer skills and building self-confidence. The Center for Women has grown so much over the past 35 years, largely due to its dedicated professional staff.

As Program Coordinator of the Center for Women, Jill Kapleau works directly with the staff, volunteers, and clients, to ensure that day-to-day operations run smoothly and efficiently. Kapleau also evaluates what services are missing in the community, helps to create new programs to meet these needs, and refers clients to outside agencies for additional assistance when necessary. “It is always rewarding to help women find services that will aid in solving their problems and enriching their lives in the process,” states Kapleau.

The Center has a dynamic Career Services team that works together to help clients attain their goals through its many programs. Patty Kremen, Career Services Manager, sees women who have suffered the loss of a spouse or those who may be experiencing other difficult emotional circumstances. “Listening to our clients is the best part of my job,” Kremen explains. “Hearing their dreams, acknowledging who they are, and affirming that they will be able to overcome their obstacles is most gratifying and motivating.”

Barbara Sunberg, also a Career Services Manager, works with women returning to the workforce after being absent for many years, or who are embarking on a new career direction. “I am inspired by my clients every day,” says Sunberg. “I strive to help each woman gain a heightened awareness of her untapped talents, achieve greater confidence in her own abilities, and develop new skills to meet the challenges of today’s job market.” She adds, “It means so much to me when my clients explain how grateful and appreciative they are for all the resources and services made available to them through the Center for Women.”

“We strive to make a difference in the lives of the women we serve,” states Kathy Murphy, Case Manager.  “Clients come with a variety of emotional needs and diverse employment backgrounds, and we pride ourselves on being able to help develop a personalized approach that works best for them.”

Computer classes are an important service at the heart of the Center for Women. Led by Susan Fass, coordinator of the computer program, students range in ability from those who are completely unfamiliar with computers to those who just need a little refresher. For women trying to re-enter the job market, or just wanting to learn how to use a computer for personal use, there is a class at every level.  Fass explains, “It is an amazing feeling to see someone gain the confidence to figure something out on her own.” Fass’s favorite comment is, “Now I don’t have to rely on my children!”

A story that resonates throughout the Center is that women feel defined and often constrained by their role as caregivers. Clients come to the Center lacking the strength or confidence to seek employment and create a new life for themselves, but leave with a sense of self-empowerment and accomplishment.  Sue Wasserman, Director of Community Services who oversees the Center for Women sums it up: “Our entire staff takes a very compassionate approach to helping women and is extremely conscious of taking the time to develop relationships with each client. This very personalized approach is successful in giving women a fresh perspective.”

As the Center looks to the future, the dedicated professional staff hopes to reach many more women to help them gain life skills, independence, self-esteem, and career opportunities.  After all…life changes…the Center for Women can help!

14th Annual Wonder of Women Film Festival

Progressive Independent Films Portray the Universal Spirit and Courage of Women

 A dancer’s destiny is decided before she is born… the nature of polygamy is brought to the screen… a passion for baking propels a woman’s career … and the cultural disconnections about intimacy and a marriage proposal takes on a life of its own…

These captivating stories and several others 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 6, 2016 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 – 3:00 pm.

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

  • Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides Despite lingering wartime enmity, tens of thousands of young Japanese women decided to leave war-torn Japan after WWII for America as wives of GIs. Now these women are in their 80s. This is their story, of lives shaped by one irrevocable decision.
  • Breakfast at Ina’s: An entrepreneur ahead of her time found a recipe for success in compassion, exacting standards and sheer willpower. Against all odds, Ina Pinkney created a mini-empire of eateries that served generations of Chicagoans with delicious comfort food and a warm welcome to match.
  • In the Clouds: The complicated and often comedic differences between how we think romance should work and how it actually does is the subject of this film. Set around Buenos Aires during one momentous week in the lives of Mariela, an Argentinean, and Oliver, an American executive working abroad, the film takes a look at cultural disconnections about intimacy and the way the once-simple idea of a marriage proposal takes on a sometimes ridiculous life of its own.
  • Maman(s): Set in the Parisian suburbs, the film’s plot centers on eight-year-old Aida and her family’s attempt to integrate a new mother and child, brought home from Africa by her father. Maman(s) focuses on the complex nature of polygamy.
  • Maiko: Dancing Child: Fourteen-year-old Maiko, whose name means dancing child, was sent to the most prestigious dancing schools in Europe. Today Maiko is 32 and on top of her career as a prima ballerina. However, now that she is no longer a young dancer, talented newcomers are longing for her position. We follow Maiko at a breaking point in her life, where she is forced to make life-changing decisions.

“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 Shari Harrison.  “We are extremely proud of our line-up this year.”

The fee for all day admission is $45 per person for NCJW/Essex 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 www.ncjwessex.org, 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. (*deceased)

NCJW Essex Winner of 2016 American Web Design Award

Graphic Design USA (GDUSA) has awarded the National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) and Lobello Design of Kenilworth, NJ, an American Web Design Award for its newly re-designed NCJW/Essex website. From more than 1,250 entries worldwide, the NCJW Essex website was one of the projects selected as a winner. In announcing the award, the editor/publisher of GDUSA commented, “the design and development of your website is, simply, outstanding.”

The new website, www.ncjwessex.org was launched a year ago in the summer of 2015. “Our goal was to better brand the organization, feature more of a homepage, be more user-friendly and interactive, and give us a more contemporary, visually appealing look,” explained Lisa Blumert, Director of Communications for NCJW/Essex. “We wanted to insure that we had a better designed and attractive website that will be dynamic and functional for the future.” The website re-design project also included a sister website, the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women, www.centerforwomenNJ.org. Both new engaging websites allows users to register more easily and find out information about all the events and programs at NCJW/Essex and the Center for Women.

Graphic Design USA is a magazine for graphic design professionals based in New York City. This is the 53rd year that Graphic Design USA has organized competitions for the creative community. The American Web Design Awards celebrate the power of well-designed websites and other online communications to attract audiences, generate engagement and response, and promote products, services, ideas and causes.

For more information about NCJW/Essex, please visit our website, www.ncjwessex.org.

Center for Women Reaches Milestone: 35th Anniversary

This fall the Linda and Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women is celebrating its 35th anniversary, a milestone in its rich history of helping women to gain independence, self-esteem, life skills and career opportunities.

The Center for Women was established in 1981 in response to a need for support for women within Essex County. It then expanded in 1989 to help women who, due to various circumstances, needed to re-enter the workforce to support themselves and their families. Since then, the Center has become an anchor for women at every stage of life. As Jill Kapleau, the Program Coordinator for the Center for Women explains, “Our Center is an ongoing support system for women whose lives may have taken an unexpected turn. With our help they find the means to move ahead, support themselves and their families, and set a positive example for their children.”

Patty Kremen, Career Services Manager for the Center for Women, typically sees clients who have just gone through difficult emotional circumstances and don’t know what their next steps in life are going to be. “When they walk through our doors, our Center becomes a safe place for them to land,” says Ms. Kremen. The Center offers a variety of programs that help women move on. The programs and services are connected, creating an interwoven fabric to catch women who feel like they are falling and put them back on their feet. As Ms. Kremen notes, “the biggest gift is watching someone utilize our job clubs, vocational boots camps, computer classes and the RISE Institute (Reaching Into Self-Empowerment) to help them believe again in themselves and their self-worth. When this happens then job opportunities begin to fall into place.”

Sue Wasserman, NCJW/Essex Director of Community Services who oversees the Center for Women, is proud of the unique approach that the Center takes when dealing with clients. “Our entire staff takes a very compassionate approach to helping women and is extremely conscious of taking the time to develop a personal relationship with each client,” says Ms. Wasserman. Ms. Kremen echoes this sentiment: “It’s our job to sit and listen to women tell their stories so we understand who they have become. We are not an employment agency, or a one-stop government agency. We’re here for emotional stability and to assist each woman find her next step.”

As the Center for Women looks ahead to the next chapter, it hopes to increase the number of women being served each year and create more programs to help women get back on their feet. As Ms. Kapleau reflects, “Each woman and family helped by the Center for Women is a huge accomplishment of the program and we hope to see this grow. Our goal for the future is to continue to identify the unmet needs of women and expand the Center’s services to meet them.”

“In 35 years we have certainly come a long way but there are more women out there who need our help,” explains Ms. Wasserman. “We intend to be here for them in the years to come to continue empowering women and changing lives.”

 

The Center for Women has helped thousands of women with computer skills, job searches and personal guidance. Our team of both staff and volunteers helps guide women to the programs they will benefit from the most. All services are confidential. For more information visit www.centerforwomenNJ.org, call (973) 994-4994 or email centerforwomen@ncjwessex.org. Programs are nonsectarian and open to all women, regardless of religion.