Through community service, education, and advocacy, NCJW New York Section improves the quality of life for families, women, children, and the elderly.
About Our Past
National Council of Jewish Women New York Section is many women, united by heritage and shared responsibility for future generations. Our history includes a kaleidoscope of efforts to improve the quality of life for those who live in our community and Israel.
The Early Years
New York Section was formed in 1894 by 120 Jewish women to provide those in need with the tools to help themselves, and to enrich the lives of children, young women and the elderly.
In the early years, New York Section members reached out to newly arriving immigrants, guiding young women through the difficulties of life in a new land. New York Section provided English classes, job training, activities for the children of working women and religious instruction. New York Section opened a home for unwed mothers and started the Girls Home Club, which helped young parolees survive and succeed in society.
Between the Wars
After World War I, New York Section members worked to meet the needs of people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Volunteers read to blind children, a program that later became the Jewish Guild for the Blind. Volunteers visited neglected patients hospitalized on Blackwell's Island (now Roosevelt Island), a service that continues to this day.
During those years, New York Section advocated for meaningful child labor laws, decent housing for the poor, public health programs, minimum wage laws and women's suffrage.
To put progressive ideas into practice, New York Section women opened Council House on the Lower East Side, offering the neighborhood a mental health clinic, a kindergarten, a mothers' club, counseling and religion classes. Council House moved to the Bronx in the 1920, and was later turned over to the community. Now Forest House, it is part of Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Centers.
The Forties and Fifties
NCJW New York Section responded to the tragedies of World War II with extraordinary efforts. Volunteers worked to reunite families, and located relatives for almost 24,000 people. For lonely refugees relocated to the Upper West Side, New York Section opened the first full-day senior center in Manhattan, with programs to stimulate minds and expand social opportunities. (Council House now provides a range of programs and services to contemporary seniors five days a week.)
The Sixties through the Eighties
New York Section addressed the needs of children and working mothers with innovative services for children. New York Section pioneered the Head Start program in New York and instituted the "Book-Go-Round" mobile lending library for children, the forerunner of our current children's literacy and art education programs. In the 1980s, New York Section sponsored a pilot day care center in its offices.
The Eleanor Leff Jewish Women's Resource Center was founded in response to growing interest in the role of women in Judaism and in society. The JWRC's ever-increasing library collection and events document and explore the interplay of feminism and Jewish tradition.
New York Section became the first organization in the country to provide telephone counseling and support groups for people grieving over miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death, by establishing the Pregnancy Loss Support Program.
In response to poverty and illness in the 1980s, New York Section began, and continues, programs to feed the hungry and relieve the isolation of children and hospitalized adults with AIDS.
Throughout this period, New York Section played a leading role in advocating for freedom of reproductive choice, decent available childcare and public funds for public schools.
While continuing to expand services for children, the elderly, the hungry, the bereaved, the isolated ill, and the intellectually curious, New York Section introduced New York City to the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program, designed to empower parents as their children's first teachers.
New York Section sponsored pathbreaking conferences on sweatshops, elder abuse and domestic violence, and has assumed a leading role in coalitions of organizations dedicated to eliminating abusive conditions at home and in the workplace.
The DV Run/Walk, co-founded by New York Section in 1999, was an annual event that raised public awareness of domestic violence, in cooperation with over sixty participating organizations in New York City.
In response to September 11, 2001, New York Section staffed a helpline, NY1 For You, in cooperation with NY1 News, to provide information and referrals for people directly affected by the World Trade Center disaster.
New York Section's nineteen community services provide food, education, companionship, information, and support to people of all races and religions in our community. Advocacy focuses on women's health and reproductive choice issues, early childhood education, separation of religion and state, and support for Israel.
To learn more about what NCJW New York Section is, see community services and advocacy.
Better yet, join us. If you do not have the time to participate in person, your dues will contribute to the support of our programs. Find out how membership can improve the quality of life!
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National Council of Jewish Women New York Section
241 W. 72nd Street New York, NY 10023
212-687-5030 email: firstname.lastname@example.org