LIVINGSTON, N.J., October 29, 2014 – NCJW/Essex enjoyed a packed house at the 2014 Opening Event on October 28, 2014 featuring Elizabeth Smart, an American activist who gained widespread attention at the age of 14 when she was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City and rescued nine months later. The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time.
Smart recalled that at the end of her middle school years, eager to start high school in the fall, she was abducted at knifepoint from her bedroom while her sister slept next to her. In the days that followed, she endured rape and abuse at the hands of her captors while living hidden in the mountains of Utah. “They tried to destroy the person I was,” she said, “but I decided my family was worth surviving for.” Smart reassured the audience of nearly 600 attendees at Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park that despite the intolerable hardship she endured, she still believes there is good in the world and encouraged women to face whatever hardships they may have and try to move forward. “We have a choice,” she said. “We can allow our problems to consume us or we can live our lives.” In the aftermath of her ordeal, Elizabeth began the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to prevent crimes against children and is now working on an international scale to prevent human trafficking.
“Elizabeth Smart offered a poignant look at what it means to have hope in a difficult situation,” said Deborah Legow Schatz, president NCJW/Essex. “Her incredible story of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardship is a reminder to us all to not allow our past to dictate who we become in the future.”