Our History, Our Beliefs, Our Pillars, Our Personality
In 1893, the Chicago World’s Fair was held to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World. Hannah Greenbaum Solomon was asked to organize a group of American Jewish women at the Fair’s Parliament of Religions. She brought together ninety-five representative Jewish women from across the United States to discuss issues pertinent to their time. This group became the National Council of Jewish Women. In the last decades of the 19th century, these women became involved in settlement homes, adult study circles, vocational training for young girls, free health dispensaries, school health inspection programs, day nurseries and assistance to the poor.
Twenty-nine years later, on September 12, 1922, at 20 Thomson Place, Lynbrook, New York, twelve women assembled at the home of Mrs. H. M. Kanwit. There they met with Mrs. Harry Sternberger, Secretary of the National Council of Jewish Women. They laid the foundation for South Shore Section, whose concerns would be education, community service and social action.
The first open meeting of the South Shore Section was held two months later at the Hebrew Education Alliance on November 13, 1922. Section President, Mrs. Moolten, quoted Abraham Lincoln in what was to be the conscious of South Shore Section and the driving force behind the work it would do, “with malice toward none, charity for all.”
For over a century, the National Council of Jewish Women has been at the forefront of social change – championing the needs of women, children and families – while courageously taking a progressive stance on such issues as child welfare, women’s rights, and reproductive freedom. That pioneering spirit continues to this day. The National Council of Jewish Women is a place where women from across society come together to make the world at large as well as their own communities, a better place for women, children and families. NCJW embraces women of diverse backgrounds and temperaments, thinkers and doers, who want to play a part at the local, national, and even global level. Yet, all who come to NCJW share a belief that progressive ideals put into action can improve the world. National Council of Jewish Women is the most potent, most effective, most satisfying place where you can turn your beliefs into meaningful action.
Nationally, NCJW is a leading advocate of social and political change in the areas of reproductive rights, separation of religion and state, and individual rights, among others. In Israel, we help at-risk youth and assure the delivery of compassionate services for women, children and families while advocating for religious freedom, tolerance and pluralism. In today’s political environment this work is more critical than ever.
Today that pioneering spirit continues. Informed by Jewish values – and our understanding that these values have universal appeal – the National Council of Jewish Women is nothing less than the voice of, the place where women from across society come together to make the world at large and their communities, in particular, a better place.
Our Pillars We're Built On
NCJW’S distinctive character is based in the truths, or pillars, that have guided our work for over 100 years. We are pioneers. From the very beginning, we have been at the forefront of social change, taking a progressive stance on issues to protect the needs of women, children, and families. We are informed by Jewish values and our understanding that these values have universal appeal. This perspective enables us to leave the world better than we found it. And finally, we are thinkers and doers, women who value thoughtful reflection as well as effective action.
Our Personality That Strengthens Us
We are compassionate. Our value as human beings is measured by how we treat the weakest among us, not the strongest. We are courageous. History has shown us that we are unafraid to do the right thing and fight the good fight. We are powerful. As individuals and as a group, we are a positive force for change.