In 1891, Hannah G. Solomon was asked to organize the participation of Jewish women for the upcoming Chicago World’s Fair. When Hannah and her recruits discovered they were expected to perform hostess duties, they refused and instead planned a revolutionary women’s forum. Convening in 1893 at the World Parliament of Religions held on the shores of Lake Michigan, these courageous Jewish women from across the country founded the National Council of Jewish Women and forever changed the role of women and the nature of volunteerism.
Since the 19th century, NCJW has realized its mission with pioneering programs and initiatives that honor and protect freedom, individual rights and civil liberties, as well as through service projects that benefit local communities.
By promoting Jewish values, the Utah Section of NCJW fosters personal growth and develops community leadership to make a real difference in the lives of women, children and families in our local, national and global communities.
Locally, we partner with similar organizations, lobby the legislature/government and work to strengthen our inclusive, diverse democracy. We spearhead the Shalom Salaam Tikkun-Olam Christmas event benefitting refugees and the homebound. We hold our annual Halloween Party for Women and Children in Jeopardy at the YWCA and co-host a Passover Senior Seder. Each year we generally hold a walk-a-thon (or, more recently a cocktail party) for Planned Parenthood to support its cancer screenings and family planning services, to educate participants, and to resist Trump’s actions denying funding for family planning services worldwide. In 2017, we marched with other organizations at the Women’s Marches in Park City and at the State Capitol, and at a rally in opposition to the Administration’s Muslim Ban.
At our annual fall membership brunch, our keynote speaker was outgoing State Senator Rebecca Chavez-Houck, who spoke movingly both of growing up on a Utah farm and later trying to effect change at the Capitol. This was the first of hopefully many in our Speakers’ Series, in loving memory of past NCJW President, Kitty Kaplan, who passed away suddenly.
Rochelle Kaplan resumed, in Kitty’s stead, as acting State Policy Advocacy Chair. We are supporting two Utah initiatives, hoping to get these on the 2018 ballot: Better Boundaries to end partisan gerrymandering and expanded Medicaid (Utah Cares).