- Who We Are
- What We Do
January has been a busy month for the NCJW Southern Maine Section. January 18th rang in our first inaugural Supper Club for Mothers with Young Children hosted by section member Alex Higgins. Fifteen engaged and enthusiastic women gathered for a delicious potluck spread followed by an informal presentation by Amy Bouchard, a registered dietitian and child nutrition expert. Bouchard lead the group through an insightful presentation focused on “Five Steps to Raising Healthy and Joyful Children.” Attendees then shared personal stories of wins and losses in their own households centered around food choices and strong-willed children 😉 It was an inspirational evening of camaraderie and learning for all who attended.
On Saturday, January 20th State Policy Chair Patty Weber led members as they marched alongside thousands of women to commemorate the 2017 Women’s March protesting President Trump’s inauguration. The deluge of revelations about powerful men abusing women, leading to the #MeToo moment, has pushed activists to demand deeper social and political change. Progressive women are eager to build on the movement and translate their enthusiasm into electoral victories in this year’s midterm elections. Thanks to those that turned out from NCJW and showed up in Augusta to support others and continue to fight for Reproductive rights! Let’s keep the momentum going. “We got this”!
Lynn Goldfarb is the Immediate Past President of the NCJW Southern Maine (ME) Section and currently holds the position of Community Service Chair for the Reiche School Nurse’s Closet initiative. Let’s find out more….
Hometown and Current Town: Lynn was born in Newark New Jersey (NJ) and grew up in South Orange, NJ. She moved to Portland, ME in 1969 and currently resides in Cumberland Foreside.
College and Career: Lynn attended Wellesley College as an undergraduate and immediately enrolled as one of just ten women in a class of 500 students at Columbia University School of Business where she received an MBA. Lynn had a very successful career in product research and development at both Lord & Taylor and Maidenform in the New York City area. In Maine, she culminated her corporate career as the first-ever female Vice President at Central Maine Power. Lynn then started her own consulting firm and ran this successful endeavor until retirement.
Why NCJW? Lynn’s grandmother was the founding member of the NCJW NJ Section. Upon moving to Maine, the NJ Section President highly recommended that our Section take advantage of her skills and enthusiasm and immediately make her a board member. Wisely, our Section welcomed Lynn on board and since that time, Lynn has served in every position on the board except for Political Action and Treasurer.
What Excites you Most about Working with NCJW: Lynn is very proud of the group’s work with Reiche School, The Family Crisis Shelter and with education initiatives focused on heart health and human trafficking. She especially likes that NCJW has allowed her to work with and become friends with women of all ages. In coming years, she looks forward to developing leaders to move the group forward.
Fun Fact:Lynn is a Leap Year baby!!! And owes her youthful looks to the fact that she is really only 19 years old 😉
On Thursday, October 12th, NCJW Southern Maine Section partnered with the University of Southern Maine’s Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity to host a panel and community discussion about NCJW’s unique history serving Maine’s immigrant populations from the early 1900’s through today.
The panel consisted of two of our local members, Linda Rogoff (past Section President) and Bobbi Gordan, and Portland-born artist Jo Israelson. NCJW members highlighted all our key programs and great volunteer work dating back to House Island in the 1920s. Israelson spoke about her multi-media piece “Welcoming the Stranger”. She talked about her research into the women who founded our Section, research that she used to create the aprons for her piece “Sarah’s Generosity”.
Several women from the Darfur community attended the program and thanked us for all our support. It was moving and a wonderful reminder of the importance of coming together as women for the greater good of our community.
Looking ahead, in June of 2018, NCJW will be part of a larger immigration exhibit at the Maine State Museum in Augusta. Amy Waterman, a writer and museum specialist, spoke about curating the upcoming exhibit.
This event highlighted how many women, children and families benefit from our programs. As an organization, we look forward to continuing to stand up for our those in need in our community.
Hometown and Current Town: Born and raised in New Jersey, Jennifer now lives with her husband and two adorable children in Brunswick, ME.
College: She attended Rutgers University as an undergraduate and received her Master’s degree in teaching from Columbia University.
Why NCJW? NCJW has a huge footprint and a reputation for great work in the greater New York City area where Jennifer spent her life prior to Maine. Since moving to Vacation Land, she has been looking for the right opportunity to get involved, and now seemed like the right time.
What Excites you Most about Working with NCJW: Jennifer sees the need for greater participation from the next generation. She hopes to increase excitement and membership through events like “Manis and Macaroons”, a Passover themed evening where more than a dozen women turned out for an evening of manicures, wine, macaroons, and mingling. She continues to plan events that allow Jewish women to come together and connect.
Favorite Travel Spot: Locally she loves to go to the Samoset Resort in Rockport!
Fun Fact: Jennifer is an avid and talented skier.
On Thursday, September 14, NCJW Southern Maine Section partnered with the Jewish Community Alliance (JCA) of Southern Maine to welcome Maine’s Speaker of the House, Sara Gideon, D-Freeport. Seventy-five engaged citizens gathered in the Sam L. Cohen Community Hall for the two-hour event. Patty Weber, NCJW’s State Policy Chair, welcomed Gideon and provided the audience with a brief overview of her recent accomplishments and legislative initiatives.
Gideon thanked NCJW and the JCA for inviting her to speak about both local and national issues affecting Maine citizens. She started off the night discussing her family background as a daughter of two immigrant parents who came to America from India (her father) and Armenia (her mother). She then discussed her marriage into a Jewish family and thanked her mother-in law, Linda Rogoff, a longtime Section member and past president, for her unending support.
Gideon expanded upon her goals and priorities as the Maine Speaker of the House. She emphasized: 1) Addressing food insecurity for the children of Maine, 2) Increasing economic opportunity in the state, and 3) Reversing and stopping climate change in our state and beyond. She then reflected on a variety of legislative initiatives and highlighted two that have had a direct impact on Maine families – expanding access to the overdose drug Naloxone, and introducing the Leveraging Investments in Families Today (LIFT) bill aimed at lifting Maine families out of deep poverty.
Gideon then suggested actions that citizens can take who want to be more active and involved in the legislative process. She recommended that citizens be loud (call your state senators), write letters to the editor of local newspapers, and that – as citizens – we make the effort to show up at the state house in Augusta to either testify before committees or simply be present to show support or opposition to a bill.
A great crowd gathered at Congregation Bet Ha’am to attend the NCJW annual meeting on Tuesday evening, June 20th. Barbara Peisner, Scholarship Chair, began the program and welcomed new and long-standing members to this yearly event. Roberta Gordon provided the invocation and handed the microphone to Immediate Past President Lynn Goldfarb to deliver the Annual Report. Lynn provided a brief overview of the year’s activities to include the NCJW Equal Justice Forum, the initiative to provide feminine hygiene products and the on-going Reiche Backpack Initiative – details for other programs and projects can be found on our website. There is currently a need for additional tutors at Reiche and she encouraged interested volunteers to contact Eydie Pryzant (firstname.lastname@example.org, 878-5065) to find out more. In conclusion, she emphasized the need for members to take a stand and be a part of the organization’s activism in a variety of social justice initiatives.
Past President Gail Volk then conducted the changing of the guard for the NCJW board. She recognized six valuable board members (Rebecca DeLois, Eileen Arsenault, Rena Becker, Marcy Black, Pat Reef, and Dauna Binder) for their years of valuable service as they stepped down from the board and installed incoming board members (Nancy Scott, Alicia Harding, Rachel Reed, Margaret Hathaway, Jennifer Kanwit, Susan Gladstein, JoAnn Miller Goodman) to their new roles.
Top cap off the night, Barbara Peisner awarded scholarships to 19 deserving students. Stephen Gleit presented three students with Selma Gleit Memorial STEM scholarships and family members from several scholarship endowment families were on hand to congratulate recipients.
Look for upcoming details for our September 14th event: An Evening with Sara Gideon, Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.
It’s not always about the work. Sometimes, girls just like to have fun. More than a dozen women turned out at AnnLe’s Nail Bar in South Portland April 12th for an evening of manicures, wine, macaroons, and mingling. Organizer extraordinaire Jennifer Kanwit welcomed each guest, who paid $30 upfront and received a name tag. Attendees sampled wine and snacks while waiting to sit down with AnnLe’s nail technicians. Everyone was tended to in a timely fashion. Barbara Peisner welcomed each new prospective member and shared NCJW goals and projects. We collected a few items for Welcome the Stranger, and earned a nice sum for our programs. Jennifer has plenty of ideas for more fun events if you missed Manis & Macaroons.
Don Lindgren, proprieter of Rabelais, Fine Books on Food & Drink, in Biddeford, shared his enthusiasm for cookbooks as social and economic artifacts in a talk Thursday, March 16, at Falmouth Memorial Library. About 20 people nibbled on snacks before settling in for the free presentation sponsored by NCJW and the Library.
Board member Eydie Pryzant introduced Lindgren, who is a member of the Board of Governors of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America and a member of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. As such, he looks at cookbooks as more than a source of recipe ideas for dinner.
During his talk, he frequently referred to a number of rare volumes which he brought with him. He showed how the binding of a book could indicate its humble origin and intent; the earliest slender volumes were bound in leather because hides were cheap and widely available.
He introduced the audience to a new way of looking at the list of ingredients in a recipe. By mapping the ingredients called for in an entire cookbook, (peas from the garden, milk from cows in the barn, venison from the forest) it is possible to gauge the economic status of the intended readership. So royal cookbooks assumed access to rare, imported spices and many labor-intensive ingredients.
Don shared a number of early Jewish cookbooks which, though aimed at Jewish cooks, were not strictly kosher. One could trace the diaspora in volumes like the delightfully titled, “A Russian Jew Cooks in Peru.”
Thanks, Eydie, for organizing, such a fun and engaging event.
Board members were thrilled to welcome about a dozen women to Lynn Goldfarb’s home for coffee and conversation Sunday, February 26. Young mothers, retirees new to Maine, and working women all expressed an interest in our organization and its mission. Several had attended our post-election Equal Justice Forum. Others had been recruited by active members talking up NCJW among their friends. While munching on cakes and cookies, and sipping tea and coffee, board members spoke about the history of our section and the advocacy, community service, and educational projects that we are working on now. And then they listened while the attendees talked about the issues that interest them. Many mentioned their hopes for making new friends among like-minded Jewish women in the area. Two women signed up for membership right then and there, while the others left with dues envelopes in hand. We are looking forward to seeing fresh faces at upcoming meetings and events.
NCJW continually looks for ways to identify and fulfill needs in our community. In recent years, we’ve highlighted hunger in Maine. People who receive SNAP benefits — food stamps — cannot use them to buy certain things. Among these are tampons and sanitary pads. Most NCJW members are women, after all, and we can identify with women of child-bearing age struggling to meet their most basic sanitary needs. To that end, we are funding a pilot project to provide feminine hygiene products to clients of the Jewish Family Services Food Pantry, which also serves many newcomers to Maine who do not qualify for government assistance. NCJW Board Member Roberta Gordon first brought the idea to the Board. We developed a partnership with JFS, which found PERIOD (formerly Camions of Care) in Portland, Oregon, could provide reasonably priced products. PERIOD is a global, youth-run nonprofit that strives to provide and celebrate menstrual hygiene through advocacy, education, and service. The first shipment of products arrived in November, 2016, at the JFS Food Pantry, which distributed packages to 150 women. NCJW is excited to support this initiative to help provide menstrual hygiene products to women in need.
The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.