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45 Years and Counting: Geraldine Soba and NCJW

Donor Stories l

GeraldineSobabwby Melissa Yekell

The Beatles unleash a music revolution. Betty Friedan publishes The Feminine Mystique. The US Supreme Court rules against state-mandated Bible reading in public schools. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech. The year is 1963, and a young woman named Geraldine “Jerrie” Soba accepts an invitation to an NCJW meeting, starting her on a path to improving the world with NCJW.

“I am so proud of my years with NCJW,” Jerrie says of her 45 years as an NCJW volunteer and supporter. NCJW “has added a new dimension to my life and a new group of women to my family.” In turn, NCJW’s mission has been furthered locally, nationally, and globally by Jerrie, an NCJW board director.

For the past 26 years, Jerrie has served as NCJW’s United Nations representative, serving on a myriad of committees, including the US Commission on the Status of Women and an informal Jewish Caucus (JNGO), which played a key role in the UN establishing an annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.

As an American and a Jewish woman, Jerrie — along with her NCJW partner at the UN, Barbara Zuckerberg — has spoken out within the international community, drawn attention to NCJW issues, suggested programs, and educated the public. NCJW has been actively engaged with the United Nations since its founding charter was drawn up in 1945.

“I have been privileged and honored to serve NCJW for so many years,” Jerrie says, all of which have been “challenging, satisfying and compelling.”

Closer to home, Jerrie served as president of NCJW’s Brooklyn Section in the 1970s, helping to establish the section’s Senior Citizen Center, a model used across the country. Since 1982 she has sat on the board of NCJW’s New York Section, playing an instrumental role in starting community programs that feed the hungry and care for adults and children affected by AIDS.

“Closest to my heart is championing the needs of the underserved through community service and advocacy,” she says. “I also believe that it is necessary for us to provide financial support to NCJW so that we may achieve the capacity to accomplish our goals. Volunteering, philanthropy, and advocacy are natural complements when it comes to achieving social justice.”

“At NCJW, I discovered a world of engaged, intelligent, caring women who inspired me,” she adds. “I hope that in turn, I have inspired other NCJW women to carry on my legacy of service, action, and giving to make their own lasting difference in the world.”

On June 4 at NCJW’s 2009 Israel Benefit Luncheon — held at the United Nations — the National Council of Jewish Women honored Geraldine Soba, celebrating its Israel Granting Program, and the continuing partnership of NCJW and US/Israel Women to Women (W2W).