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.
In 1893 Hannah G. Solomon of Chicago was asked to organize the participation of Jewish women in the Chicago World’s Fair. When Mrs. Solomon and her recruits discovered that participation was not substantive but would consist of pouring coffee and other hostess duties, they walked out. By the end of the World’s Fair, Mrs. Solomon and the accompanying delegate body of women had founded National Council of Jewish Women, changing forever the role of Jewish women and the nature of volunteerism.
In every decade since then, NCJW has prioritized the most pressing issues of the moment – including promoting equal pay for women, voting rights, advocating for a fair and independent judiciary, immigrant rights and protecting reproductive health, rights and justice. At the foundation of this work is our Theory of Change, which says transformational change happens at the intersection of meaningful education, strategic advocacy, and community-based service. Nationally, NCJW is now over 180,000 members strong, with 58 sections in 50 states.
The Louisville Section was founded in 1895 by Rebecca Rosenthal Judah to further human welfare through education, philanthropy, service, and social action. For the past 128 years, it has remained committed to its mission and worked diligently using progressive Jewish ideals to strive for social justice in Louisville by launching new community initiatives, collaborating with other organizations, and supporting changes in our community.
As early as 1897, NCJW maintained the first summer kindergarten in Louisville and the first free public baths. More recently, NCJW sponsored the creation of Kentucky Youth Advocates (1977), helped establish CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) in 1985, initiated a Court Watch that monitored the cases of victims of domestic violence (1995), started the Adopt-A-School program (2000) and Suitcase Project (2005), raised funds to create the Jefferson County Domestic Violence Intake Center (2009), created a new Court Watch Project on Child Abuse & Neglect Cases in Family Court (2014), and facilitated and raised funds to open the Jefferson Family Recovery Court and maintained social worker’s funding for 3 years (2018).
The Nearly New Shop opened in 1956 as NCJW’s resale store and main source of fundraising. For the last 68 years, community members have been donating clothing, accessories, home furnishings and furniture to the Shop, which uses the proceeds to pay for advocacy projects run by NCJW.
NCJW Louisville Section utilizes almost 700 members to engage, advocate, and support women’s, children’s, and family’s issues regardless of religious affiliation.
Our Current Projects
We are proud of our long-standing relationships with community partners throughout Louisville. Highlights of current NCJW projects include:
NCJW, through Gilda’s Club of Louisville, has enabled children whose lives are affected by cancer to enjoy a free week-long summer day camp. There, the children meet and bond with others who also have a cancer connection, and are able to build emotional support while having fun and learning. NCJW helps fund and staff the camp. NCJW volunteers also cook for and chaperone campers on field trips.
Chavurat Shalom (Circle of Friends)
This community-wide weekly program is designed to meet the needs of Jewish seniors by providing social, intellectual, spiritual, and physical activities. NCJW provides grant money to partially cover the cost of healthy and nutritious lunches for seniors unable to pay due to financial difficulty.
Community Coordinated Child Care (4C)
NCJW, through 4C, helps provide early intervention for children birth-five who are not eligible for services elsewhere (primarily those with early signs of autism and those experiencing sensory processing disorders). Also, NCJW helps fund 4-C training programs offered to parents and child care providers so that the needs of all involved are met through continued education and technical assistance as it pertains to the child care environment. 4C is one of the oldest child care resource and referral agencies in the U.S. and was establish in 1969 through the impetus and funding of NCJW.
Our trained volunteers monitored Family Court cases in the courtroom and provide feedback of their findings to the courts. To date, NCJW, Louisville Section has managed three Court Watch Projects in Jefferson County. In 2014, our 3-month monitoring of cases of abuse and child neglect in the courts In 2018 the Court Watch program observed the Administrative Offices of the Court Open Courts Pilot Project.
NCJW’s support of ElderServe’s Crime Victim Services (CVS) program assists older adults (60 and older) throughout Jefferson County in recovering from the trauma of victimization, including but not limited to, crimes of financial exploitation, abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, robbery, burglary, and caregiver neglect. Goals of CVS are to increase awareness of elder abuse as a crime, empower the elderly with knowledge to keep themselves safe, increase access to the criminal justice system and to provide court transportation, court advocacy, support services, crisis intervention, short-term emergency housing, and community outreach.
NCJW serves women, children, and families by sending funds directly to projects in Israel. NCJW has a long commitment to advancing women’s status in Israel by helping them develop a stronger voice in Israel society. NCJW emphasizes empowerment and leadership programs for women and girls as well as gender equality as the cornerstones of NCJW’s Israel Granting Program. Grant recipients include organizations and programs designed to address Israeli women’s rights and well-being in areas like economics, politics, education, domestic violence, and social justice. Components of the Israel Granting Program include Women to Women: NCJW’s Empowerment Initiative and Yad B’ Yad: NCJW’s Initiative to Nurture Knowledge. Supporting the Israel Granting Program is an ideal way to speak your mind on issues such as gender segregation in the public sphere, agunot* rights, and other personal status issues that specifically affect women in Israel.
* About 20 women are officially classified as agunot – women “chained” to husbands refusing to grant them gets (a get is a religious divorce by Jewish law).
Jefferson Family Recovery Court(JFRC)
Jefferson Family Recovery Court focuses directly on families struggling with dependency by creating opportunities for parents to recover and be reunited with their children. This voluntary, court-supervised program provides services to actively engage participants in their recovery and celebrate their milestones towards long-term success.
Jewish Family & Career Services (JFCS)
NCJW, through JFCS, partially funds a program which provides 20-25 frail and at-risk seniors access to transportation for medical appointments (chemo, dialysis, physical therapy, etc.) and doctor visits. It also assists seniors in purchasing medications, special diet foods, equipment, and emergency services as needed and as emergencies arise.
Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA)
NCJW, through KYA, takes action on behalf of kids in the form of advocacy, partnerships, training, and action alerts. KYA and NCJW, Louisville Section have worked very closely together on the Jefferson Family Recovery Court project.
Keystone Learning Academy (KLA) (Formerly California Area Family Development Center)
NCJW helps to allow children growing up in poverty the opportunity to attend the Academy’s daycare program by providing subsidies that enable the children to receive the quality start in life necessary to assure success in school and beyond. NCJW volunteers also host an annual holiday party for the children at KLA. In 1971, NCJW donated funds and volunteers to start California Area Family Development Center.
Maryhurst (residential home for abused teenage girls)
NCJW has been a sponsor for a special training program to aid Maryhurst staff in identifying and responding to children who struggle with sexual reactivity* issues due to past sexual abuse. NCJW-funded training has enabled Maryhurst staff to complete advanced state-approved training in the area of youth sexual behavior problems. NCJW volunteers also participate in craft-making activities with the girls several times a year as a way to help build self-esteem.
*Sexual reactivity is a condition in which a child acts and reacts in ways outside of “normal” sexual behavior and is primarily caused by “pre-sexualization”.
NCJW, through YMCA SafePlace, partially funds Shelter House, a facility that offers a safe place and services (including case management, medical care, and advocacy) to homeless and run away teens.