For the second consecutive year, JWF NJ was pleased to sponsor the opening night of the NJ Jewish Festival at the JCC of West Orange. The thought-provoking film “SHELTER” tells the story of a female Mossad agent who protects a female Lebanese informant in a safe house in Hamburg while recovering from plastic surgery for her new identity. The intimacy of the relationship that develops between the two women is exposed to the terror that is engulfing the world today. More than 23 JWF members and friends gathered for a JWF-sponsored cocktail hour prior to the film’s screening and then came together again at the post-viewing dessert reception to explore the numerous twists and turns of the film’s plot.
JWF and 15 other JWFs from across the country are pooling their funding to create a two-year grant that will address the conditions of women who work as contract laborers (those employed as temporary workers with limited rights and benefits). The goal of this special Funders Collaborative is to develop an innovative approach to improving women’s rights and gender equality in Israel with a focus on labor rights. Given the significant co-investment by all the JWFs, a thorough evaluation of the project is planned. JWF’s Director, Susan Friedman, along with Ellen Flax, Director of the Hadassah Foundation, are co-chairing the Program and Evaluation Committee for the Collaborative, which will oversee the project’s evaluation methodology and management.
The JWF celebrated its 10th anniversary on November 2, honoring past and current chairs, and bringing together 65 of its committed members for a reception at the home of co-chair Penina Barr. The evening provided the opportunity for all to reflect on the achievements of the Foundation and its grantees, and the impact JWF NJ has made in the extended Greater MetroWest community and in Israel.
Two extraordinarily talented young women and one of their instructors from Jazz House for Kids’ Chica Power Program, a JWF grantee, infused the 10th anniversary celebration with their musical gifts. Bass player Chloe Raichle, of Freehold; and vocalist Claudia Nkieta and pianist Nicki Denner both of Montclair wowed the crowd at the event.
Jessica Kitson, Managing Attorney of Newark-based Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, also shared a moving story of a client whose life had been transformed through the Vacateur Initiative supported by JWF.
Over the years, JWF has collaborated with an array of organizations including Volunteer Lawyers for Justice (aids victims of human trafficking and violence), Make the Road New Jersey (provides leadership and media training to immigrant women), and the Newark Conservancy (a special program helping formerly incarcerated moms bond with their daughters). In 2015, JWF also launched a special initiative, shining a light on issues facing female veterans, and was recognized by the Council of Foundations for making this a priority in the community.
“Alone we can do little, together we can do so much,” observed co-chair Lyn Rosensweig of West Orange. As a group, we engage in advocacy efforts through a gender lens. Our focus is often on areas that are of importance to many women — families, workplace concerns, self-esteem, education, and domestic violence, among others.”
To date, JWF has granted nearly $700,000. “These women are committed to achieving social change. Over the past four years alone, JWF women have increased their funding commitment to community agencies serving women and girls nearly fivefold,” noted co-chair Penina Barr of Short Hills.