PROVIDENCE – A May 20 gathering marked the sendoff for the Rhode Island section of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW).
The room at Laurelmead was crowded to honor Ellie Elbaum and Nan Levine, the co-presidents and longtime volunteers who faced the difficult decision to recommend that the section shut down.
The luncheon and program that followed included the official vote to disband the Rhode Island group. Levine, who called for the vote, mentioned the group’s more than 100-year history and how difficult this vote has been.
The State Policy Advocate (SPA) function will remain in Rhode Island as confirmed by the vote. This means that the progressive advocacy work at the Rhode Island State House done by the NCJW on behalf of women, teens and others, will continue. Thoughout the years, the NCJW has been at the forefront of advocating for women’s rights, legislation against human trafficking and family leave policy. The current SPA is Maxine Richman. She introduced Jennifer Boylan who will eventually take over as SPA.
Current members of the R.I. section of the NCJW will now become national members. They will be able to stay on top of SPA activities as well as national news via the web and and by mail from the national office. Belinda Lasky, director of community engagement in the New York office of NCJW spoke to the gathering about coordination of efforts on a national level. “I want to acknowledge everyone who’s been in leadership roles, men and women,” she said. “It’s clear so many of you were passionate about issues.”
And she emphasized that “we are still there, still supporting the advocacy work of the community.”
Lasky and Richman both mentioned digital advocacy and how members can participate through group emails. They encouraged members to continue to advocate through phone calls, letter writing and by testifying at the State House.
Lasky presented plaques to Elbaum and Levine. Kudos and citations came from the Rhode Island Congressional delegation as well as the governor. State Sen. Gayle Golden, an NCJW member herself, presented citations and reported that she had introduced resolutions in their names. And finally, an “Ode to Ellie and Nan,” by Seth Brown, son of member Barbara Brown, had members and guests smiling in their seats.
FRAN OSTENDORF is editor of The Jewish Voice.