Challenge Accepted?

We want to share some exciting news! A generous anonymous donor has challenged NCJW/Essex members and friends to raise $50,000 before May 15 — which our amazing donor will then match, dollar for dollar! All told, NCJW/Essex could realize $100,000!

Not surprisingly, some wonderful NCJW/Essex donors are already lighting the way to meet this challenge, and, together, have given $40,000 toward the match. Now we need your help to close the final gap and reach our goal.

Please click here to make your challenge gift! 

The kind of world we step back into when this is all over will depend on the actions we take today. Through the Center for Women, NCJW/Essex continues to provide food, resources, and support to women and families in crisis, and our advocacy work around issues like voter registration and women’s reproductive rights is going strong. 

With Golf, Card Party, and other NCJW/Essex special events canceled, won’t you consider redirecting your support for these events toward the challenge and double your impact!

MAKE YOUR CHALLENGE GIFT TODAY and make a difference right now in the lives of women, children and families in Essex County. 

Thank you so much for your support,

Lesley Greenstein, President
Caitlin Higgins Joy, Executive Director

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Important Message from NCJW/Essex

NCJW/Essex Postpones All Events Until May 15

NCJW/Essex is continuing to closely monitor the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. 

In accordance with these guidelines, we have decided that the best thing we can do to help stop the spread of this disease is to close the office and postpone all of our events and in-person meetings through May 15.

Unfortunately, the Card Party on May 4 will not take place as scheduled, and we will share details about a new date as soon as we have more information.

Details concerning other events that were scheduled during this time period will be posted on the website, and we will send another email update in April as more information becomes available. In the meantime, please email if you have any questions or concerns.

We would like to again invite you to continue NCJW/Essex’s important work by using conference services like Free Conference Call (good for multiple callers), or video chat using SkypeZoom or other video services.

Please note, staff will be working remotely and will be available by email. For general questions, please email

Thank you again for all of your support and understanding as together we adjust to what is hopefully a temporary “new normal.” 

We are grateful now, as always, for the commitment, strength, and compassion of our NCJW/Essex community.

Lesley Greenstein, President
Caitlin Higgins Joy, Executive Director

Important Update about Coronavirus from NCJW/Essex

Office Closed Monday, March 16, to Friday, March 27

The health and well-being of NCJW/Essex members is always our biggest priority. To ensure we are doing our part to contain the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), especially as we consider the risks to those of us in our community who may be more susceptible to this disease, we have made the difficult decision to close the NCJW/Essex offices.

The office will be closed for two weeks, effective Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 27. During that time, we will be closely monitoring the situation to determine if extending this timeline is necessary. 

While the physical NCJW/Essex office is closed, the important work of NCJW/Essex will continue. You can participate in NCJW/Essex business by using conference services like Free Conference Call (good for multiple callers), or video chat using SkypeZoom or other video services. 

Staff will be working remotely and will be available by email. For general questions, please email

We appreciate all of your support and understanding as we face this challenge together, even while apart. 

We are grateful now, as always, for the commitment, strength, and compassion of our NCJW/Essex community.

Lesley Greenstein, President

Caitlin Higgins Joy, Executive Director

In Loving Memory of Cathy Silverman

Cathy Silverman

NCJW/Essex Executive Director

It is with heavy hearts that we share with you that our beloved Executive Director Emerita, Cathy Silverman, passed away on February 4, 2020.

Cathy was the epitome of an NCJW woman – compassionate, courageous, and caring. She was a lifetime member and volunteer for more than 20 years, serving as Division President and as Essex Section Vice President, followed by 18 years as Executive Director of NCJW/Essex. Her impact on NCJW/Essex was immense, increasing the section to over 3,200 members and transforming NCJW/Essex from a well-kept secret to a powerful force in the community.

At the Crown Jewels Gala held in her honor, Cathy shared how much NCJW/Essex meant to her: “There is no other organization more special than this one. I get to work every day with incredibly bright, articulate and passionate women. Whether it is the volunteers or my staff, it has truly been a dream come true. Every day I look forward to my job and the work we do. The depth of the support I receive from everyone goes beyond what is imaginable. This support and our work enable me to experience the pure joy of the women, children and families whose lives we improve with our services.”

During her time as Executive Director, Cathy sparked the growth of NCJW/Essex with many new and innovative programs and initiatives, including the Back 2 School Store, Chai Circle, Mitzvah-in-a-Minute, the Period.Project, the Kids Emergency Closet, the Women’s Seder, and the A-List for Advocacy. She doubled the organization’s professional staff, tripled the budget, and quadrupled assets. Due to Cathy’s leadership, NCJW/Essex has enhanced the lives of innumerable women, children and families throughout Essex County, New Jersey, and beyond.

Cathy inspired all of us to strive for excellence and innovation, and will be greatly missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to know her. 

It is impossible to think of NCJW/Essex without thinking of Cathy, who made the organization what it is today. She will be forever in our hearts.

Our NCJW/Essex community grieves with Cathy’s beloved family: her mother, Doris, her husband Lenny Dinnerstein, her children, and her grandchildren.

Lesley Greenstein, President, NCJW/Essex

Caitlin Higgins Joy, Executive Director, NCJW/Essex

Sold-out Crowd for NCJW/Essex’s Fall Lunch & Learn Beyond the Border: Immigration in America Today

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.



·         Make the Road New Jersey

·         ACLU New Jersey

·         ACLU New Jersey Petition to Expand Access to Licenses

·         Close the Camps

Sold-out Crowd for Fall Lunch & Learn Beyond the Border: Immigration in America Today

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 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 or (973) 488-0054. 

Over 800 Children Shop Cost-Free at the NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store

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 Women Honored at the NCJW/Essex Annual Installation and Awards Evening

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.

Anthony Garubo Salon in Maplewood Partners with the Linda & Rudy Slucker 
NCJW/Essex Center for Women to Help Empower Women

For the sixth consecutive year, ten women from the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women (CFW) were treated to a special pampering this spring, thanks to the generosity of the award-winning Anthony Garubo Salon in Maplewood, NJ.

Usually closed on Mondays, the Salon opened its doors and donated its time and talent to help empower the CFW clients with a new look. All services were donated and anything was possible, from a blowout to cut, color and even highlights, as the stylists consulted with each individual client.

Patty Kremen, Career Services Manager at the NCJW/Essex Center for Women, explains that this event is part of the CFW’s overall approach to help women feel a sense of confidence and at their best. “When you witness the transition in these women simply from the beginning of the day to when they walk out of the salon, it’s priceless seeing them feel so good about themselves,” she says. “The confidence they feel when they look in the mirror is inspiring.”

 “The Center for Women has been amazing,” says Dana Kuiper-Nauer of Pine Brook, NJ, a client at the Center for the past nine months. “With everything going on I rarely get time for myself. This has been ‘me’ time that is long overdue.

The Anthony Garubo Salon has graciously hosted this event for the past six years because of their desire to give back to the community and specifically to women in need. As Janine Garubo Austin, Managing Director said, “We love this tradition and it is the high point of our year. Spring feels like a good time to have a new beginning. My staff and I are honored to be a little bit of a catalyst for change.” Moises Cabides of the salon echoed these sentiments saying, “It is always rewarding to help out and give confidence to those who really need and want it.”

The Center for Women is a resource for women focusing on growth and self-improvement. The Center offers workshops on a variety of topics, computer classes, legal guidance, career services and peer support. Clients of the Center are learning skills to enter or re-enter the workforce, finding encouragement to cope with new or unexpected life situations, gaining the confidence to develop their own career path and improving personal relationships.

The Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women is located at 70 South Orange Avenue, Livingston, NJ. For more information, please visit or call (973) 994-4994.

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

The 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 long-term volunteer efforts towards congenital heart defects, preventing and raising awareness of substance abuse, and creating a district program to assist children with Selective Mutism. This is the 16th year the award has been bestowed to deserving high school students.

                  The 2019 award winners include Curtis Mark of Orange High School, Giulia Russo of James Caldwell High School, and Allison Kofsky of Columbia High School. These high school seniors have shown a dedication to improving the lives of 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.

                  Curtis Mark, a senior at Orange High School, began volunteering with the non-profit organization Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT), where he was able to expand his knowledge about substance abuse in order to help his community. “To make a community-level change, we must involve the community in our efforts,” reflected Mark. “Once we do this, the room for growth is endless.” Through all of his efforts to prevent substance abuse, he was presented with numerous awards and was selected as the sole United States Delegate at the United Nations Youth Forum.

                  Allison Kofsky, a senior attending Columbia High School, was 15 when she started her own district program called “Playground Pals” to aid and spread awareness of children impacted by Selective Mutism (SM). The inspiration behind this program was generated from someone she knew battling SM, a rare childhood anxiety disorder that hinders people’s ability to vocalize in various settings. “Playground Pals assists children struggling with Selective Mutism with feeling included and less isolated during their lunch and recess periods. It quite literally, provides a voice to the voiceless,” she says proudly.

Giulia Russo, a senior attending James Caldwell High School, was twelve years old when she was informed that she had a large hole (atrial septal defect) in her heart that only open heart surgery could fix. Although this information would change Russo’s life forever, the positive path she followed stands out. She became involved with the Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Coalition and has led a journal drive for the past 5 years to distribute journals to patients during treatment.

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.