Legacies: Living Them and Leaving Them
For three decades, NCJW has been woven into the fabric of the lives of veteran volunteers Marge Weiser and Nancy Eskow.
They, in turn, have been a fundamental part of NCJW, inspiring others as leaders — today as national NCJW board members and earlier as local section presidents, Weiser at the NCJW Greater Minneapolis (MN) Section and Eskow at the Essex County (NJ) Section.
Like many NCJW members, Eskow and Weiser trace their commitment to tzedakah and handson volunteering back to their parents. “Growing up,” Eskow remembers, “my father used to quip, ‘If you’ve got two dollars, you can afford to give one dollar away.’… He taught me that I was obligated to financially support, to the best of my ability, that in which I believe.”
“I learned about volunteering and giving from my mother and the way that she lived her life,” says Weiser, NCJW treasurer. “Even after she passed away — when I found boxes of charitable $10 contributions — her actions spoke louder than words: It’s not how much you give that is important, it’s the giving itself.”
Weiser and Eskow support NCJW in myriad ways — locally and nationally: through unrestricted annual giving, bequests, and targeted giving to programs like Plan A: NCJW’s Campaign for Contraceptive Access and BenchMark: NCJW’s Campaign to Save Roe.
“Giving to BenchMark and Plan A has offered me the opportunity to focus my NCJW donations in a way that is meaningful to me,” says Eskow. “Too many of us have forgotten the women who lost their lives because safe, legal abortions were unavailable. My grandmother made that choice simply because she had too many children and too little money. She paid for that choice with her life. We must never return to those days when choice is not an option.”
For Weiser, NCJW is unique among nonprofi t organizations, because of the “extraordinary commitment of the volunteers,” Weiser says. “Their commitment to NCJW is just as strong as their commitment to the issues. That’s a rare combination. And that’s why there’s a special place in my heart for NCJW. It’s what makes giving to NCJW so rewarding.”
Eskow agrees. “Working with a group that strives to promote progressive policies and that champions the needs of women, children, and families has truly been a privilege,” says Eskow. “That privilege carries with it an obligation to ensure that NCJW has the means to carry out our community service and advocacy efforts.”
Always looking for new ways to strengthen NCJW’s programs, Weiser recently spearheaded a direct mail campaign, asking members to match her Plan A pledge. “More than 700 NCJW supporters have responded,” says Weiser. “Every single one of these donations is helping to secure women’s access to contraception around the country.”
“Through NCJW I turn my beliefs into action, as an individual and as a Jew. Giving to others has enriched my life. What I receive from NCJW is far greater than what I give,” says Eskow.