Caring for our community at a distance

As we navigate this uncertain time around the world, we want to remind you that from the beginning, the National Council of Jewish Women’s mission has been to protect women, children, and families – people who are now disproportionately impacted by this global health crisis. I want to also assure you that while we take precautions and measures to protect our staff and our communities, we continue to fight for paid sick leave, access to health care, nutrition assistance, and other essential policies through this time.

Alongside you all, we are a community that is 90,000+ strong and we will continue to ask ourselves – Where can we help? What can we do?

Please read below for organizational announcements, information on the work that is being done now, and ways you can support that work if you are able.

As we look to the coming weeks and months, we know it will be a trying time for so many and we are holding all those affected in our prayers. If you are in need of support in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and your local NCJW community.

Living Our Jewish Values
In Judaism, pikuach nefesh—saving lives—takes precedence over pretty much everything else we might do. And, right now, that means choosing not to come together so we avoid harm to anyone, especially those at most risk.

Health and the 2020 NCJW Convention
The health and well-being of National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) advocates, leaders, and members and our greater community are our top priority. A few days ago we shared with NCJW Convention registrants that we have made the difficult decision to cancel our 2020 Convention due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the country. We will convene advocates and members online to vote on the new board of directors, bylaws, and resolutions slates. If you are in that voting group, please hold the following dates and times: Thursday, April 23: 3:15-6 pm ET and Friday, April 24, 11 am-4:30 pm ET.

Local Leadership – Sections Taking Action
Many NCJW Section leaders and advocates who are able to are acting locally in their communities – living their values and taking care of those who need support. NCJW Minnesota is reaching out to its advocates, creating a phone tree for the purpose of checking in on their community. NCJW New York is continuing to operate its food bank to serve those most vulnerable to food shortages and hunger. NCJW Michigan is continuing to run its Meals on Wheels program. And NCJW St. Louis, in a great show of how NCJW is living its values, has committed to paying its staff through this uncertainty to ensure their security. Many of our sections have been forced to close their offices or suspend programs, but are continuing the direct service and community advocacy for which they are known.

National Advocacy
Despite working from home, our work at the national level continues, and it is even more important now for the vulnerable families we strive to protect.

  • Jewish Community Calling for Nutrition Assistance
    600 Jewish organizations and faith leaders around the US have signed this statement we created with our friends at Mazon. It calls on the President, the USDA, and Congress to expand nutrition assistance for our most vulnerable during this very scary time.
  • Families First Act
    More than 400 of you reached out to your Senators through NCJW about the Families First Act and thanks to you, the Senate just passed the bill that will ensure more workers have access to emergency sick leave and emergency family leave during the coronavirus crisis.

Working from Home
Our national staff will work from their homes across the US for at least the next two weeks, advocating for reproductive rights and justice, paid sick leave, voting access, taking care of our community, and so much more. Our mission to protect women, children, and families is deeply integrated with the effects of physical distancing and closures – issues like paid leave, family leave, domestic violence protections, and ensuring a social safety net.

Support Our Work
Including the advocacy actions above, there are many things you can do from your home to continue to support women, children, and families through this crisis. Here are a few:

  • Register people to vote or request an absentee ballot. You can now encourage people to register people to vote straight from the confines of their home using NCJW’s online voter registration tool. Even if you are already registered to vote, you can use the same tool to request an absentee ballot for your upcoming primary (if it hasn’t already happened) or the general election. Just follow the steps in the link and it will ask you if you are already registered. When you choose yes, it will direct you to absentee ballot sign up.
  • Contact your senators and ask them to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. We are in the midst of a pandemic–and a domestic violence crisis. The current COVID-19 crisis is making it even more difficult for survivors of domestic violence to seek help. We need the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act NOW.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially those who live alone or at risk. If you aren’t at risk, offer to pick up prescriptions or groceries for them (and leave them outside) so they don’t have to venture out.
  • Check on your local food bank and make sure they have the supplies they need–this includes cleaning supplies. Many food banks are experiencing a healthy uptick in food donations, but lack supplies to clean the shelves or keep employees and volunteers healthy.
  • Reach out to your local section and engage with them. Many are continuing direct service opportunities, many are hosting events online, and all of them can use engaged advocates like you getting involved locally!
  • More than ever, we need your support for the great work we do on your behalf every day. If you are able to provide financial support in a time of uncertainty, we’d be so grateful.

NCJW continues to work for women, children, and families, even when others aren’t able. The value of a network this strong is that when one isn’t able to pick up the torch, others can. We will continue to be with you now and into the weeks and months ahead.