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

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.”

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

Patty Kremen Celebrates 10 Years with NCJW/Essex!

Patty has been the inspiration for so many programs at the heart of the Center for Women (CFW), including Pack the Pantry which is why we are collecting food gift cards in her honor.

Please Donate to Celebrate Patty’s 10 Years of Service

Click here to purchase gift cards online at ShopRite (minimum purchase $25) and have them sent directly to NCJW/Essex at 70 South Orange Ave, Ste.120, Livingston, NJ 07039 (gift cards only – please do not drop off food at the office). Gift cards are always needed and greatly appreciated by our CFW clients as they empower women to shop for and purchase exactly the food their family needs.

Thank you, Patty!

Patty’s love, dedication, and commitment for the CFW, her clients, and co workers is heartwarming and comes through in everything she does . She is compassionate, empathetic, loyal and devoted. We are so fortunate and grateful to have her lead our CFW. Thank you Patty for your professionalism, unwavered devotion, and continued support and leadership. Andrea Mintz, VP, CFW

Patty goes not only the extra mile for clients, she goes an extra 10 miles. Whether it is addressing food insecurity, making sure families have holiday gifts, engaging clients with the Back to School store, or being a cheerleader for a client who is feeling discouraged, Patty makes sure that clients know the Center for Women is there for them in their time of need. This is in addition to ensuring we are providing the best services for vulnerable populations of women who are in need of “survival” employment or of higher paying, more stable employment to support themselves and their families. Patty is the Wonder Woman of the CFW and she inspires all of us to serve our clients well. ~ Kathy Murphy, CFW

Patty listens to her clients, assesses their job options and helps them to create a plan to move forward in their job search. She does it with expertise, compassion and understanding. Patty’s clients adore her as they should and greatly value the career services that she provides. ~ Barbara Sunberg, CFW


Ask Your State Senator to Sponsor Two High Priority Bills and Press For a Hearing
Find your State Senator here.

In our area:

Senator Richard Cody (Caldwell, Florham Park, Hanover, Livingston, Millburn,Maplewood, Roseland, S&W Orange): Email here or call (973) 535-5017 

Senator Nia Gill (Clifton, E. Orange, Orange, Montclair): Email here or call (973) 509-0388

  • Public Awareness of Trafficking (S280) develops notices for victims of human trafficking, that contain the National Human Trafficking Number, to be posted in critical places such as transit spots, bars and massage parlors — giving victims a way to reach out for help.
  • A New Start for Survivors (S1750) expands clean slate/vacatur laws for trafficking survivors. This bill provides a process to vacate and expunge arrests and charges committed by a person while they were a victim of human trafficking, thus allowing them a new start in life.

NCJW/Essex 12th Annual Back 2 School Store Goes Mobile for 2020

NCJW/Essex Holds 12th Annual Back 2 School Store Providing Winter Coats and Clothing to 1,700 Essex County Children in Need

NCJW/Essex’s 12th annual and first-ever Mobile Back 2 School Store (B2SS) has completed its distribution of backpacks, school supplies, winter coats, warm clothing, and more for the 2020 season.

More than 1,700 children were served by this year’s B2SS, the most-ever in the store’s history.

“It means so much to all of the donors, sponsors, and volunteers who make the Back 2 School Store happen that we were able to serve the children and families who rely on us, and that we did not let the pandemic keep us from making sure this important endeavor was completed,” said Penina Barr, NCJW/Essex President.

While in prior years children were able to “shop” at the one-day pop-up B2SS, this year volunteers put together personalized outfits based on the children’s preferences which were submitted and included favorite colors and other style requests.

Volunteers worked for several days to create personalized bags for 1,000 children in need in Essex County, which were delivered to more than 40 agencies, schools, and other organizations for distribution to the kids.

“We owe a big thank you to Two Men and a Truck who delivered the items from our storage unit to our distribution center at Temple Beth Shalom, and to Essex County Community Transportation who provided vans and amazing drivers who made our deliveries possible,” shared the B2SS Committee Chairs, Lauren Tabak Fass, Rachel Khedouri, and Lori Gelman.

“The store was reimagined this year, but it got the items kids needed to the families we serve, and that’s what really matters,” said Caitlin Higgins Joy, NCJW/Essex Executive Director, adding, “it’s amazing what can be accomplished when NCJW/Essex members join together to better the lives of children in our community.”

NCJW/Essex is already working on the 2021 B2SS. If you would like to learn more about volunteering as part of this imitative, please contact Ellen Staple at

Myrna Wertheimer Receiving National NCJW Award: Enduring Advocate 2020

For those who know Myrna Wertheimer, and her many contributions to NCJW/Essex, we applaud the fact that she is the recipient of this year’s Enduring Advocate for Social Change Award from NCJW National. This award recognizes her as an NCJW leader who has been advancing social change by being an NCJW advocate in our community for more than 10 years. But what you might not know is that this award is actually Myrna’s second national award: she was also recognized in 2003 as the recipient of the NCJW Outstanding Leadership Award. 

An active NCJW/Essex leader since 1974, Myrna’s first focus was on Community Services which led to her passion to provide direct services to empower women. In 1987, Myrna created a communitywide forum, “Behind Closed Doors,” making public the issue of domestic violence in the Jewish home. Myrna studied for a year with the NJ State Division on Women, becoming an expert on domestic violence which started her advocacy journey, founding programs that include The Rachel Coalition, the MetroWest community’s response to domestic violence (where she still serves on the Board) and NCJW/Essex’s Teen Dating Abuse Awareness program. 

Among her many accomplishments, Myrna also led two sellout performances of The Vagina Monologues, a rally for One Billion Rising, and a production of Slut: The Play, which opened the door to making counseling on sexism and sexual violence available to every Newark teen. Most recently, Myrna helped start and currently co-chairs the NCJW/Essex project Carpool Conversations, helping parents address their children’s contemporary issues. 

Myrna shared that she could not have accomplished all that she has without her endlessly supportive family, noting also that she is proud to set the example of the importance of volunteerism and giving back to your community for her four grandsons. We believe that Myrna exemplifies the definition of “enduring.” Our section and NCJW at large have benefited from her many years of dedication to our advocacy work and community programs. 

We are honored that Myrna still chooses us, and we as a section choose her to be our Enduring Advocate!

2020 Highlights: NCJW/Essex Gets Out the Vote!

We had many successful Get Out the Vote initiatives in 2020.

We created and distributed more than 1,000 packets of voter registration materials to Get Out the Vote here in NJ. 

We spread the word about “Everything You Need to Know to Vote in NJ” with our flyer we distributed both in paper and via social media to coalitions, food pantries and partner organizations.  

We led six virtual voter education programs and released regular how-to videos keeping voters up to date on the latest election developments in NJ. 

We placed our A-List for Advocacy full-page ad, signed by more than 175 supporters, in the Star Ledger to debunk common voting myths. 

We partnered with Reclaim Our Vote for Advocacy-in-an-Hour to write and mail more than 1,000 GOTV postcards encouraging low propensity voters to turn out for the general election and then the Georgia runoffs elections.

Charitable Giving: Did you know there are “new” tax incentives this year?

If you are looking for a last minute charitable idea you might consider a year end gift, to help NCJW/Essex carry out our mission and reach more people. The need is great, and we truly need your help. Your donation might also have some “new” tax incentives this year. Always check with your accountant.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act offers new opportunities to maximize the benefits of your charitable giving, but only in 2020.

They include:

  1. A new tax benefit for non-itemizers. Donors who do not itemize may take a one-time adjustment to income of $300 for cash gifts.
  2. Higher charitable deduction limits for cash gifts in the tax year 2020. Donors who itemize may claim a charitable deduction for up to 100% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) for cash gifts.
  3. A suspension of the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from individual retirement accounts. Individuals over age 72 do not need to take an RMD in 2020.
  4. Continued opportunity for individuals age 70 1/2 or older to make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). Donors may give as much as $100,000 directly from an IRA plan to a qualified charity.

The above information provides a general overview that is not intended as tax or legal advice. Donors are encouraged to consult with their own professional advisors on how the CARES Act may apply to them. For further discussion please contact David Pasternack, Director of Resource Development at 917-535-6555 or

NCJW/Essex 2020 Highlights: Reproductive Rights

NCJW/Essex spearheaded many advocacy efforts for Reproductive Rights in 2020.

At Roe 2.0 in January, we learned from Katie Watson, acclaimed author of The Scarlet A, how to talk about ordinary abortion and what access might look like in the next decade and beyond. 

We wrote hundreds of postcards to our legislators asking them to protect reproductive rights here in NJ at our Advocacy-in-an-Hour.  

We joined with other NCJW sections and Jewish communities across the country and took a symbolic walk to mark the end of shiva for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, thanking RBG for her accomplishments and vowing to continue her work.

As part of Thrive NJ, we worked with the Governor and state legislature to create and introduce the Reproductive Freedom Act, proactive legislation that will help protect and expand New Jerseyans’ ability to receive reproductive healthcare, such as birth control and pregnancy-related care, including abortion.