Cause of the Month: National Council of Jewish Women

I know this is a little late, but things have been crazy.  That said, I am pleased to announce that we finally have a Cause of the Month.  As last week marked the beginning of a Jewish New Year, it seems fitting for September to honor the National Council of Jewish Women.  NCJW is a national network of Jewish female activists who provide meaningful social services across the United States, and advocate for issues related to Israel.  I’m going to brush over the Israel issues because they’re less relevant to this.  It’s their work on behalf of women and children across the United States that I think really deserves mention on this blog.

The NCJW has three major national campaigns I want to highlight.  First, Higher Ground: the NCJW’s Domestic Violence Campaign.  Higher Ground is an umbrella program that encompasses all of the NCJW’s work on gender-based violence.  It’s both a community service based program, with branches of the NCJW managing specific programs in their communities, as well as an advocacy program pushing policymakers to create policies that can meaningfully help survivors of domestic violence. Second, Plan A: the NCJW’s Campaign for Reproductive Access.  The program has been endorsed by the Center for American Progress, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Sexuality Education and Information Council of the US, the Healthy Teen Network, and the National Partnership for Women and Families, among others.  Third, Voices for Reproductive Choices, which mobilizes advocates around the country to protect women’s reproductive rights.

Those are just the national umbrella campaigns.  Actual chapters are doing real, meaningful work on the ground in individual communities.  In New York, in concert with PPFA, NCJW has initiated a program to teach sexuality education to high school students.  They have a similar program in Greater Dallas.  In Los Angeles, volunteers help provide counseling to vulnerable women and help provide support programs for young women and literacy programs for children.  In San Francisco, they’re a key part of the Jewish Coalition Against Human Trafficking-~-and in fact, they were a founding organization in the coalition.  In Miami, NCJW helps advocate for the rights of same-sex couples.  NCJW of Pittsburgh helps women transition to financial literacy and economic independence.  The list goes on and on.  My point is this: NCJW does work that actually helps real people in the United States, and that’s what really matters.

The other thing I particularly like about the National Council of Jewish Women is that it’s a grassroots, volunteer-based network that involves people within local communities so that they can help each other.  Instead of providing top-down initiatives coming from DC that field offices enact, each individual section of the NCJW does the advocacy work and volunteer work that members see as needed within their own communities.  That’s important, because every community has different needs and different resources.  The advocacy needed in Texas may not be needed the same way in New York.  There may be a higher number of low income women in need of counseling in one city as opposed to another.

The organization is complicated, so if you’re interested in their work, take the time to look at their website.  You can support, through volunteering or otherwise, either the national organization or your local chapter.  They also have interesting events open to members.  I fully recognize that a number of my readers are likely not Jewish, but I do think it’s important to recognize the role of faith-based organizations in the fight for social justice (and don’t worry, we’ll be talking about Catholics for Choice at some point in the near-ish future).  I also think it’s important to remember that there are different women with different needs across the country-~-and it’s worth acknowledging the work that local organizations are doing to meet those needs, every single day.

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~ by Randi Saunders on September 10, 2013.

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