History of National Council of Jewish Women
In 1893, Hannah G. Solomon of Chicago was asked to organize the participation of Jewish women in the Chicago World’s Fair. When Hannah and her recruits discovered that participation was not substantive, but would consist of pouring coffee and other hostess duties, they walked out. Hannah then took matters into her own hands, building on the courageous action and volunteer work she had been leading for years. By the end of the World’s Fair, Hannah and the accompanying delegate body of women had founded the National Council of Jewish Women, changing forever the role of Jewish women and the nature of volunteerism. There are now 88 sections of NCJW in the United States and one in Jerusalem, Israel. Every year, NCJW delegates, get together to build upon our advocacy skills to advance social change for child welfare, women’s rights, domestic violence and the epidemic of illegal gun trafficking. Cleveland Section is one of the oldest and largest sections with two Cleveland past presidents now serving on the 22 member national board. NCJW continues to be on the forefront, addressing the needs of both the Jewish and general communities on the national, state and local levels, as well as in Israel. This national resolution translates into the specific work of Cleveland Section.
Throughout our 119 year history, NCJW/Cleveland identifies needs in our community. We strategize and advocate for human services that are coordinated, comprehensive, accessible, and sufficiently funded. Our leaders do this through advocacy, community service and educational programming. Our work stems from our history and desire to meet future needs.
Timeline of National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland
1893—NCJW/Cleveland was established through a merger of Ladies Benevolent Society, Ladies service society and Personal Service Society with Rabbi Moses Gries as its first president.
1903— NCJW/Cleveland became the founding member of Federation of Jewish Charities, now known as the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland.
1907— NCJW/Cleveland established, with Council on Education Alliance (forerunner of the Jewish Community Center) and Federation For Jewish Charities, Camp Wise a summer retreat for needy children and mothers.
1919— NCJW/Cleveland established Big Sisters, a program created to befriend female Jewish orphans at The Jewish Orphan Home (the forerunner of Bellefaire/Jewish Children’s Bureau).
1938— NCJW/Cleveland developed the Vocational Counseling Program which led to the establishment of Jewish Vocational Services (JVS).
1940— NCJW/Cleveland joined its national organization’s Ship-a-Box Program which provided clothing and toys for displaced families and children in Europe and Israel.
1950— NCJW/Cleveland established the Abel Booster Program to serve and transport the elderly sight impaired to activities.
1950-— NCJW/Cleveland launched Entertainmobile to entertain seniors throughout the community.
1960— NCJW/Cleveland initiated the first Cleveland Meals On Wheels program with St. Luke’s Hospital, East End Neighborhood House and the City of Cleveland Division of Recreation.
1962— NCJW/Cleveland broke ground to establish Council Gardens, an innovative, nonsectarian, independent living apartment complex for the well elderly with moderate incomes. This was the first of its kind in Cleveland.
1970— NCJW/Cleveland held the first Designer Dress Days (DDD). This ongoing fund raiser continues to be the largest income generator for the organization.
1971— NCJW/Cleveland welcomed Jewish newcomers to the community through Cleveland Shalom.
1978— NCJW/Cleveland launched Jewish Transportation Service, in collaboration with the Jewish Community Center and The Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, to transport elderly and disabled individuals to their medical appointments.
1979— NCJW/Cleveland opened Council House, co-sponsored with Jewish Family Service Association ( JFSA), a model group home for Jewish men with chronic mental illness.
1980— NCJW/Cleveland developed Parent Resource Project/Totline, in cooperation with the Federation For Community Planning and the Center For Human Services. This telephone counseling helped develop positive parenting skills and later became known as Bellflower Center/Totline.
1983— NCJW/Cleveland undertook the Holocaust Archives Project, which documented the testimonials of 136 Cleveland survivors, liberators, and righteous gentiles.
1990— NCJW/Cleveland, through its Soviet Host Family Project, sponsored new Soviet immigrant families when they arrived in Cleveland.
1990— NCJW/Cleveland developed and provided volunteers to the Hello Israel Project, a social studies program to educate 6th grade students about the state of Israel.
1991— NCJW/Cleveland provided the seed money and volunteers to develop the first Jewish hospice program in Northeast Ohio NCJW/Montefiore Hospice Project.
1993— NCJW/Cleveland advocated on state and national issues collaborating with Cleveland Freedom of Choice Coalition, Women in Appointed Office Project, and Coalition on Domestic Violence in the Jewish community.
1996— NCJW/Cleveland established Parents As School Partners at Buckeye Woodland Elementary School to help parents of early elementary age enhance their children’s reading skills.
1997— NCJW/Cleveland partnered with JFSA to form the Judaic Outreach Project to provide a social networking opportunity for clients with chronic mental illness.
1998— NCJW/Cleveland developed many effective literacy projects currently still in operation – Readers Theater, Imagination Express and Partners in Reading.
2000— NCJW/Cleveland Advocacy Department established the “I Will Ask” Gun Safety Campaign, which educated the community about the importance of safe gun storage and safe play for children.
2000— NCJW/Cleveland developed the Legal Access for Women program. This program utilized the expertise of NCJW volunteer attorneys who assisted needy women in navigating the legal system.
2001— NCJW/Cleveland, in collaboration with the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services, launched The Dignity Project to provide duffle bags and school supplies to children abruptly removed from their homes due to neglect, abuse or imminent danger.
2002— NCJW/Cleveland and The Dignity Project receive national recognition when it is chosen to become a recipient of toys and other gifts from NBC’s “The Today’s Show” holiday toy drive.
2003— NCJW/Cleveland partnered with the Heights Parent Center for a Violent Toy Exchange. This project has become an annual community-wide family event now called Play it Safe, which encourages non-violent play. Partners have included The Cleveland Clinic, Home Depot and the Natural History Museum.
2004—The first annual Lois Zaas Memorial Lecture was held to honor the memory of National Honorary Director and Cleveland Section Past President Lois Zaas.
2006— NCJW/Cleveland assisted in obtaining funding support for The Magnolia Clubhouse (formerly Hill House), a non-profit center for psychosocial rehabilitation of young adults with mental illness.
2007— NCJW/Cleveland furnished a bedroom for seniors at the Domestic Violence Center of Cleveland.
2008— NCJW/Cleveland in partnership with Citizens for Safety and House of Blues, presented a community education forum on the epidemic of the trafficking of illegal guns, which end up in the hands of juveniles and criminals. NCJW, CS signed 29 new Ohio Mayors to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national organization founded by Mayors Bloomberg (NYC) and Menino (Boston).
2008— NCJW/Cleveland expanded The Dignity Project (now known as Dignity and More! Project) with the Cuyahoga County Department of Senior and Adult Services to provide support to Kinship Care families of Cuyahoga County. The expansion includes several new programs – Share What you Wear, a teen service project of clothing and school supplies collection; The Library Project, in partnership with the Cuyahoga County Library Association collects and donates children’s books to the families and community centers of the inner ring city Collaborative Initiatives; and Dig-knitty, a volunteer group who donates their beautiful knitted items to various groups within the community.
2009— NCJW/Cleveland in partnership with Fairhill Partners and the Department of Senior and Adult Services again expanded The Dignity and More! program by creating a Ladies Night Out, to acknowledge kinship caregivers and the young women they are raising. This program bridged the advocacy, community service, education and philanthropy departments of NCJW, CS.
2010— NCJW/Cleveland, in partnership with The Jewish Federation of Cleveland, collected over 830 coats, which were donated to InterAct Cleveland and given out to the homeless men, women and children in the Greater Cleveland area.
2011- NCJW/Cleveland began work on its newest signature project, LiveSpecial.com, a free and comprehensive Northeast Ohio online, go-to resource for all things required by special needs individuals and their families.