Update from the NCJWA NSW Steering Committee

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Steering Committee:
L-R Anne Reid OAM, Miri Orden, Maxine Bachmayer

2017 AGM REPORT

The Steering Committee, Miri Orden, Anne Reid OAM, Viki Nadel (Immediate Past President), have much pleasure in presenting the NCJWA NSW 94th Annual Report.

It’s becoming a bit of a cliché but… we really have had a very busy and successful year doing some of the traditional activities of National Council but with some new events and programs. We have also seen an increase in our membership which is very pleasing.

We have continued our commitment to tikkun olam, active hasbara, advocacy and community service and are always inspired and influenced by Jewish values.

As such we are very proud of MUM FOR MUM NCJWA which continues to positively make a difference to the lives of many women and children from a range of backgrounds. We provide this service free of charge. MUM FOR MUM NCJWA has expanded to the North Shore with its own facilitator, Lyn Brand. To date between both programs there are 65 volunteer mothers.

We would like to applaud the work of its program manager, Nadene Alhadeff whose passion and commitment is an inspiration. Thank you once again Nadene.  We would also like to acknowledge the work of the MUM FOR MUM committee and board chaired by Josephine Holland.  Our admin support assistant, Jenny Alter has proved to be an enormous help.  A very special thank you must go to our MUM FOR MUM volunteers, for without you our programme wouldn’t exist.

We are indebted for the donations received from the Jewish Communal Appeal Endowment and Allocation Funds, Wolper Jewish Hospital Health Foundation as well as the donation received from The Bondi Lion’s Club which we failed to mention in our 2016 report.

Our NCJWA Cancer Support Program which was launched as a pilot program, is now in its second year. The group meets monthly with facilitator Dr Mandy Goldman Strous, President of Cancer Counselling Professionals Inc. We greatly appreciate your continued support. The program is inspired and co-ordinated by Chairs of this committee, Isabelle Shapiro OAM and Mandi Chonowitz-Jacobson who also organise regular workshops, inviting guest speakers to address cancer related topics.

We would also like to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank Moriah College once again for their most generous donation made through our Jewish Women’s Breast Cancer Network to BCNA. A swimming group known as The Aqua Ladies, to which some of our members belong, make monthly donations through National Council to BCNA.  Thank you ladies and we hope they keep paddling.

Our Books Out Loud programme continues to grow and attract volunteers who visit local nursing homes and read to residents.  We are now servicing nursing homes in the east and the north.  Thank you Miri Orden who continues to direct the programme.  This year as part of their training National Council organised for Rose Winn, Lifestyle and Leisure Officer Summitcare Waverley and Gabrielle Calvert-Evers, Manager Accommodation and Services who facilitated discussion on connecting and communicating through reading.

As you can see our organisation takes very seriously the rights of women, children and social justice issues in general and continue through our Status of Women/Social Justice Program to campaign and raise awareness on a number of concerns in the Jewish and non Jewish community. The program is organised by Nadene Alhadeff and Maxine Bachmayer. Exciting events have included the screening of the documentary “The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe” celebrating the remarkable spirit of four African women survivors of sexual abuse.  The event was followed by a Q & A with cast member Aminata Conteh-Biger and Ros Horin, the Director/Producer.  The event was moderated by Nadene Alhadeff.

Often there is an overlap between Status of Women and Transcultural events and in this light our Birthing Kit packing morning has become an annual event in our Transcultural program. In 2016 we packed 1,000 kits.  We had volunteers from the Greek, Catholic and other non-Jewish communities making this a bridge building exercise.  We thank all those who donated to help purchase the items for the kits.  The event also included the screening of “I Am a Girl” with producer/director Rebecca Barry discussing her award winning documentary.  Thank you to Ruth Osen who was also involved with Nadene in organising the day.

Many of our other programs naturally reflect our concern for Status of Women issues. Last year we co-hosted an event with Or Chadash, “Who’s Afraid of Orthodox Feminism?” – Rabbi Selwin Franklin moderated a panel discussion with Dr Dina Brauer, a dynamic Orthodox feminist leader in the UK; Judith Levitan and Rabbi Moshe Gutnick as well as Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton of The Great Synagogue.  An outcome of this event has been Council co-hosting monthly mixed gender Talmud classes led by Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton.

Representing strong Jewish women, we welcomed Professor Tsvia Waldon, daughter of the late Shimon Peres, at Council at an event co-hosted with United Israel Appeal and Progressive Trust. The event touched on issues concerning human rights and Middle East peace.  “We all want to better society and much is decided by the place you live in and the values you decide to live by,” Walden said.

Our annual Council Shabbat held since 1926 took place this year at The Central Synagogue and was well attended.

Our Rebbetzin Jana Gottshall Memorial Library events continue to attract a large following which in the last year have included eminent Australian composer Elana Kats-Chernin playing piano and in conversation with co-ordinator Gael Hammer.

Another library event which co-incided with NCJWA Founders Day featured Agnes Walder Silberstein, winner of the prestigious Benjamin Franklin, Silver Award. Agnes spoke about the translation of her late father Lajos Walder’s work, a playwright and poet living in Hungary prior to World War 11.

Our last library event featured Jewish humour, facilitated by Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen.

The award winning Israeli documentary “Mr Gaga” was screened both in the North and the East.  Funds raised were directed to one of our Israel projects, the Ilan Foundation for Handicapped Children and Adults, Tel Aviv.  Thank you to co-ordinators, Janet Merkur, Miriam Levy and Maxine Bachmayer.

Support for our other National Israel Projects which include the Haifa Rape Crisis Centre and programs at Haifa University for Ethiopian women students continue but there may changes after our National Plenary.

Our groups continue to meet, plan events and raise funds among them the Progressive Group screening the documentary “Broadway Musicals, a Jewish Legacy” which was lots of fun. The highlight of the Northsiders Group events was their paint on silk workshop.  Shifra Group, thank you for your Trivia Night and other events which have been enjoyed by all.  Thank you to group chairs Anne Biner, Karen Fried and Dee Hart and past group chairs for your tireless work.

And of course we held our annual “Celebrating Israel” event marking the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of Resolution 181, the Partition Plan, coordinated by Dalia Ayalon Sinclair OAM. We were thrilled that Alan Hoffman, CEO and Director General of the Jewish Agency and Dorit Herscovici, spokesperson for the Embassy of Israel, were guest speakers.

We are proud that we continue to respond to community needs within the Jewish and wider community. Recipients last year included Jewish House and The Bread & Butter Project.  Thank you to our Charity Fund Trustees chaired so efficiently by Zara Young OAM.

A big thank you to our Board of Directors and Board of Management, our MUM FOR MUM NCJWA board of directors and working committee, our portfolio chairs, and our delegates to a variety of organisations Jewish and Non Jewish. Thank you to Bernice Bachmayer, Maxine Bachmayer and Sue Levy for representing NCJWA NSW at these organisations.  Also to our NCJWA NSW nominees on the Wolper Jewish Hospital board, Josephine Holland and Jessica Newman, and Barbara Shotland on the community service committee.  We would also like to acknowledge Barbara’s work as our committed Honorary Treasurer.

Thank you also to our catering group, Anne Reid OAM, Zina Conway OAM, Ruth Osen and Miriam Levy.

We want to thank our very patient Honorary Solicitor, Stephen Cordell of Holding Redlich as well as our Honorary Auditor, Stephen Heller of DFK Laurence Varnay. We would like to thank Steve for his years of support for National Council and his wise advice.  We are sad that he is leaving us this year but hope he will keep in touch.

Jennifer Herman joined us this year as our bookkeeper. It has been a pleasure working with her and we look forward to a long association.

Don’t think we only stay in one place all the time because last November a group of us toured ‘Jewish Ballarat’, visiting our founder Dr Fanny Reading’s childhood town including a tour of the Ballarat Hebrew Synagogue, the oldest Synagogue on mainland Australia. Who knows we may tour other parts of ‘Jewish Australia’ in the future!

We are most fortunate to have Office Manager/Social Media Manager Wendy Bookatz and thank her so much for everything she does. Wendy is a one-man band, producing all our videos, power point presentations, flyers, and is our fantastic resident photographer.  Apart from everything else Wendy manages our website and Facebook page. Her passion, commitment and creativity is so very much appreciated by all.

Viki is stepping down tonight as one of the Steering Committee but will be taking up another position on the National Board. But now she really will be the Immediate Past President NCJWA NSW and we wish her all the best.

Thank you to all our members and friends for your past and hopefully continued support.

Miri Orden, Anne Reid OAM, Maxine Bachmayer
Steering Committee NCJWA NSW