Local News

Human Trafficking Awareness Program

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Human Trafficking continues to be a major core initiative of NCJW and for our Section. Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery and impacts all races, genders, ages, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. It involves the use of force, fraud, abduction, sexual exploitation, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. The Polaris Project, a nonprofit agency whose purpose is to combat human trafficking, states that “human trafficking is the fastest growing and 3rd largest organized criminal activity behind only drug and arms trade.” According to the International Labor Organization, it is a multi-billion dollar industry and a significant number of sex trafficking victims within the U.S. are U.S. Citizens.

Sadly, Florida ranks third in the country in having one of the highest incidences in human trafficking, with California and Texas being first and second. NCJW is committed on both the national and local level, to educate and make people aware of this critical issue specifically since the Council’s mission is “to strive for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children and families and to safeguard the rights and freedoms for all.”

During 2017-2018, our Human Trafficking program, under the umbrella of NCJW’s Advocacy Program, expanded beyond our expectations. Our accomplishments include: developing partnerships with community coalitions; such as the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking. More opportunities are underway and will be announced in the fall. Scripts and power point presentations were created to match specific audiences and age groups such as adults at the Braden Library and for teens at the Girl Scouts. A two week exhibit was on display at the Selby Library, including a presentation where a victim shared her story.

The HT Program also disseminates lip balms with the Hot Line Number in both English and Spanish with the words “There is Hope” along with handouts that contain useful information to share at different presentations and fairs. Our program has two films designed for specific age appropriate groups: The Chosen is a video for teenagers and I Am Little Red is an animated video geared for children between the ages of 11-14. These videos are presented by our trained volunteers who are also prepared to respond to sensitive questions and issues.

For 2018-19, the HT Program plans to continue to meet the community requests by expanding its efforts to reach out to more schools, Boys/Girls Clubs, places of worship, libraries, camps, Kiwanis Club and more. Anyone interested in becoming a part of this vital program should contact Vivian Carasso, Co-Chair at
917-365-5238, vivi6778@aol.com and Evie Batten, Co-chair, 330-421-9553,

Get involved —Volunteer through our many projects

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Committees and volunteers are all actively involved in their various activities and enjoying the pleasure of giving back to our community. Here are the various community service activities in which our Sarasota/Manatee section is involved.

Hearing Screening of Preschoolers: This continues to be a very successful program for our section. New audiometers were recently purchased and our volunteers were trained in their usage. The children are referred to hearing professionals based on their test results. We currently cover all of Sarasota county.

Vision Screening: There are several teams of Vision screeners who conduct evaluations on preschoolers. Our volunteers are trained in the most up to date standards and are certified to be screeners. Over 400 preschoolers were screened this past year with a small percentage of children being referred for professional care. If you are interested in this community service committee or in hearing screening, we are always looking for volunteers. You may contact the new chairman for vision and hearing screening. If interested, please contact Judy Furman at (941)309-7447 or heyjude@msh.com.

Being Different Is Okay: The Sarasota/Manatee section of NCJW holds a patent on this original and entertaining program that is presented at 11 preschools/ VPK in Sarasota and Venice. We are thrilled to announce that we have been granted approval to expand into the Manatee VPK classrooms as well this year. The goal is to teach a lesson on diversity covering the Social/Emotional/Communication and Emergent Literacy Standard guidelines for the State of Florida 4-year-olds program.

Our teams utilize 5 hand puppets who live in the jungle with each representing a challenge: hyperactivity, shyness, visual impairment, physical issues, and non-English speaking. In the interaction the children are asked questions about being different and accepting those who are different. Volunteers are needed and welcome for our expansion this year.

The JANET Project: We are so pleased with The JANET (Jewish Action for Non-Violent Expression of Tweens) Project’s success this year. With donations from various sources made directly to this Project and with proceeds from the Tribute Card program, we were able to sponsor two campers at Camp Mariposa, in the amount of $3,000.00 each.
We also provided the 30 campers with “blankees”, assembled by our members, and finished off by the campers as a craft project. In addition, toiletry items were donated by our members and assembled into individual kits for the campers.

At the last Camp Mariposa session in June, Cathy Markowitz organized a visit with Nan Miller and Lance (Great Pyrenees/Aussie mix) and Beth Holland Glenn and Fuzzy Rogers (Black lab). Lance is a certified therapy dog adopted by Nan. He visits veterans’ clinics, helps out in court, and visits the staff lounge at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and infusion centers.

Beth and Cathy are volunteers at Southeastern Guide Dogs (SEGD). Fuzzy Rogers is an Ambassador Dog for SEGD and also is a certified therapy dog. He and Beth perform public relations “work” for SEGD and also bring relief to hospice patients and their families.

We are hopeful that The JANET Project will remain financially sustainable in the future and that we will be able to provide funding for more campers.

In the words of the Director of Camp Mariposa, Christine Murawski:

“Thanks again for coordinating the dogs to come. The children absolutely loved it and talked about it all weekend!”

Barbara Berkowitz and Myna Stoltz
Co-Chairs, The JANET Project/NCJW

“Someone To Talk To” is a puppet presentation for first graders that gently talks about four different kinds of abuse. As savvy as today’s first graders are, they may be experiencing things which they think are normal but are not. Sometimes things happen that they know are wrong but generate enough fear of continuing consequences that they are too afraid to tell someone. Through the puppets and their conversations, we hope we are able to let the kids know that they need to talk to an adult, a safe adult, who can help them. We present the program in Sarasota County schools on Tuesdays starting in January. Below is a picture of the puppeteers from the 2018 season. You don’t have to memorize anything. We stand behind the curtain, script in hand. We will be doing some updating of one of the scenarios and would love your help if you have recently worked with this age group. The world has changed and so have the things that we need to “talk about.” Your input would be most welcome!

Sound interesting? Please contact me (Debbie Engleson) at dengleson@verizon.net. if you would like to talk. This is an important community service program that has been serving children for many years. We would love to have you join us!

The Home Instruction of Parents with Preschool Youngsters is a program developed at the Research Institute of Hebrew University and promoted in Israel. It was brought to the United States in the early 1980s by NCJW. The curriculum helps parents expose their children to letter recognition, writing and drawing, early literacy, shapes and colors, and singing and rhyming. A community peer, as a “Home Visitor”, works with the parents, guardians, or grandparents to facilitate this learning experience.

The Sarasota/Manatee section donates backpacks to the graduating 5-year-olds in the Sarasota and Manatee County Programs as they move on to kindergarten and provides monetary donations for books and other supplies.

If interested in being more involved with our H.I.P.P.Y. Activities, please contact Anita Knisbacher at (443)798-8888 or ladylingo@verizon.net or Bobbi Leibowitz at (402)250-2029 or BobbiL@aol.com or Ilene Brett at (941)312-6585 or ilenebrett@gmail.com.

The NCJW Blankee Bee Project
The Blankee Bee Project started in 2014. This project has involved our members in making “no sew fleece” blankets.

This NCJW project spreads warmth through crafted blankets; it is like giving a hug to an at-risk child or a person undergoing Chemotherapy. The first recipients of our Blankets were the children involved in the Manatee Community Action Agency’s Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program (HIPPY). A program NCJW has long supported. Our presentation to these preschoolers was indescribable; we will always remember their faces as they received their Blankees and began to snuggle in them. NCJW also made them for residents of an assisted living facility. Currently we are making the blankets for adults at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital and the Florida Cancer Center infusion centers.

NCJW has worked on a joint venture with Jewish Family & Children’s Services (JFCS) making Blankets for the children at Camp Mariposa, which is funded in part by a grant from the Moyer Foundation and is sustained and managed by JFCS. The children worked on these blankets, for their arts and crafts project, tying knots around the blanket to finish it off.

Come join NCJW as we continue our mission during the summer months in making these soft, cuddly blankets. For further information contact Joan Bour at joanbour5@yahoo.com.

Scholarship: NCJW Scholarship Program annually recognizes and promotes education for “non- traditional “ students. This year, 2018 was our 18th award presentation and seven very deserving students were awarded monetary gifts to help them achieve their educational goals at a beautiful brunch at Marina Jacks on the water in Sarasota. The 2019 presentation to the winners will again be held at the end of April at Marina Jacks. All of our section members are invited to attend this heartwarming event.

We are greatly appreciative of our donors who include the Yanowitz Family Scholarship, the Schoenbaum Family Scholarship, the Geri Aaron Scholarship, the Canandaigua Bank Scholarship, Helen Schusterman and Albert Samuel Morrison Women’s Scholarship, Publix Supermarkets Charities, the Norma and Albert Cohen Scholarship, and the NCJW Scholarship. If you would like to participate in this most rewarding committee, please contact Julie Kupersmith at Kupersmithjulie@gmail.com.

The Community Service committees make a difference in the lives of the people we serve in our Sarasota and Manatee communities. Join us and share in the joys and mitzvahs of our work.

NCJW Book Club selections for the coming year

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The NCJW Book club meets at the Gulfgate Library from 1-2:30 p.m. on the second Monday of the Month. We often meet for lunch prior to our discussion near the library so that we can have some social time.

Summer selections and dates for 2019 will be announced at a later date. The NCJW Sarasota-Manatee website has information about book club. You will find: selections and dates for the current season, what we have read the past two seasons and Goodreads reviews of books on our selection list. The book club info on the website is under Community Services. If you have any questions contact:
Barbara Aferiat (C) 703-338-7112 or barbara@aferiat.com

2018-19 Selections

November 5, 2018
The Bridal Chair
by Gloria Goldreich
Review by Sue Reiss

December 10, 2018
Behold the Dreamers
by Imbolo Mbue
Review by
Rhoda Friedman

January 14, 2019
The Woman who Smashed Codes
by Jason Fagone
Review by
Judith Kalish

February 11, 2019
The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell
by Nadia Hashimi
review by Phyllis Elson

March 11, 2019
Big Little Lies
by Liane Moriarty
review by Nancy Golden

April 8, 2019
Mistress of the Art of Death
by Ariana Franklin
review by Susan Girese

May 13, 20019
The Leavers by Lisa Ko review by Laura Smith

February 11, 2019
The Pearl That
Broke It’s Shell
by Nadia Hashimi
Review by Phyllis Elson

March 11, 2019
Big Little Lies
by Liane Moriarty
Review by
Nancy Golden

April 8, 2019
Mistress of the
Art of Death
by Ariana Franklin
Review by Susan Girese

May 13, 20019
The Leavers
by Lisa Ko
Review by Laura Smith

Take a look — Buy a book

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NCJW is proud to again partner with JFCS to fight illiteracy in our community with their campaign, “TAKE A LOOK-BUY A BOOK-DONATE. ” JFCS Volunteer Project Manager, Sheila Birnbaum, who founded this program, has asked for donations of NEW unwrapped books for boys and girls Pre-K through fifth grade. All books will be delivered to JFCS and they will distribute books to at risk children.

The scheduled collection of books will be in February and March but, we eagerly look forward to receiving new book donations anytime. At our February general meeting we will have a box to collect the unwrapped new books or you may purchase books on the Amazon Wish List created especially for this book drive. Copy the link below into your web browser. The books purchased on Amazon will be delivered to Barbara Aferiat, who will deliver the books to JFCS. The Title of the Wish List is “Take A LOOK-BUY A BOOK.”

Link: https://amzn.com/w/12RWWS8I51FX4

Let’s make a difference in our community by giving generously. Owning, enjoying and sharing books is a privilege we take for granted, so please share that joy.
Questions: contact Barbara Aferiat, barbara@aferiat.com

NCJW Installation welcomes new board

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The new officers were installed at a recent National Council of Jewish Women Luncheon on May 9th. Over 60 guests enjoyed the beautiful view at IMG Academy in Bradenton as they were introduced to the new Board members. Thanks go to Carole Shaw and Roz Hopp for arranging this lovely event so officers could share their exciting ideas for the coming year.

The following officers were installed by Jan Segal with assistance by Rosalie Leon and her lovely singing voice. Pictured below are the new Co-Presidents Cindy Solomon and Joyce Hersh. The Vice Presidents are Phyllis Dreyfus (Administration), Communications (Rookie Shifrin and Jill Simons), Community Service (Bobbi Leibowitz, Anita Knisbacher, Irene Brett), Special Events (Carol Papish, Andrea Kutcher, Janet Alloy), Membership (Fredda Chalfin, Rosalie Leon, Programming (Marion Marshak, Rosalind Hopp and Carole Shaw), Advocacy (Marcia Schweizer), Corresponding Secretary (Marian Moss), Financial Secretary (Meg Antine), Recording Secretary (Evie Batten), Treasurer (Shirley Pollack) and Parliamentarian (Barbara Swartz).

Guest speakers were Wendy Ross, ABC Channel 7 weather-caster who entertained us with anecdotes about Channel 7 and Jessica Rogers, Vice President of Philanthropy for Children First Fund (and NCJW member) who thanked our members for all they do for Children First.

Exciting plans are underway for 2018-2019. If you are new to the area and are interested in finding a meaningful way to be a community service volunteer, call the NCJW Hotline at 941-342-1822 or view the website at ncjwsarasotamanatee.org.

You be the Judge: Religious Freedom

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Our Judicial System is a critical organization founded by guiding principles that provide fundamental rights for all Americans. “Judges are confirmed to lifetime positions on Federal Courts, including the Supreme Court and make decisions that shape our Nation.
Federal court decisions impact us all and everything we do: from the workplace to the schools, to family life.”

Our Courts Matter!

NCJW Sarasota-Manatee Section is proud to present this dynamic workshop on the federal court system. Dr. Linda Geller-Schwartz and Lauren Brownstein, the Florida State Policy co-chairs will lead this discussion. Participants will gain insight and understanding of the structure of the courts and why it is so important to have a diverse and independent jury.

Everyone who attends this workshop will have an opportunity to take part in a mock court session on a real case about religious freedom. They will learn how judges use both specific facts and the law to arrive at their decisions. As with many court cases, arriving at a decision can and will be a challenging process and an exciting experience for the participants.

This two hour program is both fun and very informative. The workshop will be presented on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. at the Jewish Federation Building on McIntosh Road in Sarasota. Registration will begin at 12:30 p.m.
Please contact Marcia Schweitzer at marcia7032@yahoo.com or 410-924-3190 TEXT only for questions and to reserve a spot.

Public Affairs and Advocacy Programs

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Currently, our Sarasota/Manatee Section has six core initiatives that are demonstrated in various ways: Human Trafficking, Teen Dating, Israeli Affairs, Lunch and Learn, a fall program that specifically focuses on one of our advocacy initiatives, Legislative Activities which includes two days in Tallahassee, a demonstration to promote change, and State Policy Advocacy. Some of these initiatives have significantly grown. Gun Safety is a project we would like to expand and there is an opportunity to make some changes with the Teen Dating Education initiative. There is always room for more but it will take volunteers to make it happen. We need your involvement, your ideas and your experiences. Please review all of our programs and come on board! For questions, interest and involvement – contact Marcia Schweitzer, VP of Advocacy at marcia7032@yahoo.com

Israeli granting program helps empower women

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In Israel, NCJW does its work through empowering Israeli and American women to improve the lives of women, children and families. NCJW brings a unique Jewish women’s progressive approach to advancing social justice and gender equality. Grants provided to Israeli organizations enable participation in advocacy coalitions, policy statements, and pioneering work in education and research, NCJW is a leader of women’s and gender rights in Israel.  For more than 70 years, NCJW members, throughout the U.S. have been supporting women, children, and families throughout Israeli society regardless of ethnicity, religion and economic status. We advocate for the equal status of women in the face of religious fundamentalism; women’s political leadership; women’s economic empowerment; LGBTQ rights; and educational opportunities for women.  Our Sarasota-Manatee Section will submit a proposal to support this program in the fall.

For the year 2018-2019, Anita Knisbacher and Marcia Schweitzer will present a unique video: PROMISES followed by a discussion. This is a beautiful and deeply moving portrait of seven Palestinian and Israeli children. PROMISES follows the journey of a filmmaker who meets these children in and around Jerusalem, from a Palestinian refugee camp to an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Although they live only 20 minutes apart, these children exist in completely separate worlds, divided by physical, historical and emotional boundaries. PROMISES explores the nature of these boundaries and tells the story of a few children who dared to cross the lines to meet their neighbors. The children of PROMISES offer refreshing, personal and sometimes humorous insight into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. With remarkable balance and a compelling blend of pathos and humor, this Oscar-nominated Emmy Award winning film moves the conflict out of politics.The date and place has yet to be determined and plenty of notice will be provided.

What does my vote mean?

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How to interpret Amendments on the ballot

NCJW’s mission is to strive for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms. In keeping with our mission, we aim to help others find their voices, not to speak for them but with them. As Florida’s State Policy Advocate (SPA) Vice Chair, Lauren Brownstein represents not only Sarasota-Manatee Section but the State of Florida during legislative sessions in Tallahassee, at local coalitions, during meet and greets with other community organizations and many NCJW workshops. NCJW has 7 sections in the state and Sarasota-Manatee and Tallahasee are the only sections on the west coast. As the SPA, it is her mission to connect this section with all of the other sections in this state.

Our section has identified a critical need and to address this gap, NCJW Sarasota-Manatee Section is having a very special event on Oct. 16, 2018. This will be a very informative opportunity to learn about the upcoming ballot amendments. Participants will hear how your “yes” and “no” votes will impact our state and us all. NCJW also plans to take this information and reach as many people as possible because these amendments are critical such as the “Second Chance Amendment” and it is important that people fully understand how the ballot is written and interpreted. Please hold on to your ballots until you attend this meeting because it will help you make an informed decision.

This special event will take place Tuesday evening, Oct 16th at 7:00 p.m. in the Palm Room at the Savoy, 401 Palm Ave. Sarasota.

Registration will begin at 6:30 pm. Space is limited so please RSVP as early as possible and guests will be welcomed. Send your RSVP and questions to Lauren Brownstein at laurenbrownstein@ymail.com or 941-243-3601.

Brownstein NCJW’s local Advocate

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NCJW has a strong focus on Advocacy. It’s mission is to strive for social justice, help others find their voices and not speak for them, but with them.

I am representing the state of Florida once again as State Policy Advocate (SPA) Co-Chair. This privilege gives me the opportunity to represent the Sarasota-Manatee Section plus the state during legislative sessions in Tallahassee. Locally, I am presently working on building coalitions, with like-minded community organizations and connecting our section with our five sister sections on the east coast and the one in Tallahassee.

NCJW as a non-partisan volunteer organization cares about women, children and families. I will continue to work toward our goals and share our local accomplishments with the rest of the state of Florida, our DC office and the other SPAs throughout the United States.
If anyone wants to discuss our advocacy work, including policies, issues and positions, please contact me at Laurenbrownstein@ymail.com (941-243-3601).