Update from the NCJWA NSW Acting Co-Presidents

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead


Acting Co-Presidents L-R Janet Merkur, Miri Orden, Maxine Bachmayer

Monday 8 April 2019 ~ Janet Merkur was invited by Justice Stephen Rothman AM and Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton on behalf of The Great Synagogue to represent NCJWA NSW at a small dinner held on the 8th April 2019 to mark the retirement of His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d) as Governor of New South Wales, and his appointment as the new Governor-General of Australia.  Among community members invited were Roger Selby, Vic Alhadeff, Robert Goot AM, Rabbi Nicole Roberts and Reverend Sam Zwarenstein. His Excellency spoke of his respect for the Jewish community.

Janet at The Great

                                                                                  Events: International Council of Jewish Women Quadrennial Convention Sydney May 2018 was held at Fanny Reading Council House from Sunday 27th May (opening dinner) to Wednesday 30th May. NCJWA NSW welcomed delegates and friends to the Sydney ICJW Convention “Evolving Beyond Tradition” highlighting the importance of women’s rights. 

24th June NCJWA NSW hosted a successful Birthing Kit afternoon. There was a successful follow up Birthing Kit afternoon on the 8th July supported by students from Moriah College. We were very pleased to have packed 1200 Birthing Kits that were sent to women in developing countries where access to clean birthing conditions are limited. A MUM FOR MUM NCJWA Mother’s Group, with excerpts from “Motherhood The Musical”, morning tea was held at Council House on Monday 30th July. Monday 13th August a Jana Gottshall Memorial Library event was held. Gael Hammer interviewed Janet Merkur about her mother RAF Sergeant Regina Morgenstern’s life in the UK and her contribution to the Enigma Project during WWII. Sunday the 19th August the Shifra Group held a movie afternoon, and screened the music documentary, “Bang! The Bert Berns Story”. An event The Women’s Brain” with speaker Dr Sarah McKay was held on Thursday the 30th August at 10 am. Dr McKay is an Oxford educated neuroscientist and author of the book, The Women’s Brain.  3rd September 2018, Natalie Narunsky, manager NCJWA BOOK OUT LOUD program spoke about “Exercising Your Brain and Cognitive Stimulation”. Natalie is an Aged Care Psychiatry Occupational Therapist. NCJWA NSW hosted an afternoon tea on Sunday 14 October, to celebrate The Medal of The Order of Australia awarded to Immediate Past President Victoria Nadel in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2018 for service to the community, particularly to women. Maxine Bachmayer, through the Australian Feldenkrais Guild NSW Division, brought the US based internationally acclaimed author and Feldenkrais practitioner Lavinia Plonka to Australia. We were fortunate to host an event with Lavinia on the 5 November 2018, “Falls Prevention: And Getting Up”.  The message ~ The more we fear falling, the harder we fall. Zonta Sydney Breakfast Club held a Birthing Kit Assembly Day Sunday 18 November 2018 at NCJWA NSW Fanny Reading Council House packing 1,000 kits. World Kindertransport Day 24 November 2018. The mission of the Kindertransport Association is to reunite and bring together Kinder, Child Survivors and their descendants, and the public to commemorate the story of the Kindertransport Scheme as an important part of Holocaust History. This year The Kindertransport Association, NCJWA NSW and The Great Synagogue co-hosted the 80th Anniversary of World Kindertransport Day. Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton led the Shabbat service at The Great Synagogue dedicated to blessing and remembering the parents of Kinder and Child survivors. Janet Merkur, co-President of NCJWA NSW and Chairman of the Australian Chapter of the Kindertransport Association, was invited up to the Bimah by Rabbi Elton and addressed the congregation.  Celebrating Israel 2018 29 November 2018. This event marks the historic November 29, 1947 vote by The United Nations General Assembly to adopt the Partition Plan, Resolution 181, providing for the termination of the Mandate, the progressive withdrawal of British armed forces and the delineation of boundaries between a Jewish and an Arab state. This year our theme was YOUTH Celebrating Israel. We were treated to a lively, joyous Celebrating Israel event held at NCJWA NSW. Miriam Levy, together with her family led the agenda for this wonderful night. The evening was MC’d by her grandson Adam Levy and featured singing by the Mount Sinai College Choir, presentations by Sydney’s Jewish Youth Groups, speeches by representatives of JNF and the Zionist Council of NSW, Israeli dancing and the singing of the “Prayer for the State of Israel” by Ari Naar. NCJWA NSW recognise the importance of this date and will endeavor to continue to commemorate this day.  NCJWA Founder’s Day/Rebbetzin Jana Gottshall Memorial Library event, 3 December 2018, featured Dr Anne Sarzin speaking on Dr FANNY READING: A VISIONARY FOR ALL TIMES.  NCJWA Council Shabbat (Shabbat Zachor) was held at the Emanuel Synagogue, Progressive Service, on Saturday the 16th of March 2019.  First library event of 2019 – We were thrilled the library committee presented the award-winning foreign correspondent and author Irris Makler’s pre-launch of her book JUST ADD LOVE with star ABC presenter Geraldine Doogue interviewing Irris. This event was enormously successful; over 130 guests attended. A huge thanks to Ruth Shteinman for suggesting we host this event. A DAYS FOR GIRLS afternoon was organised by Ruth Shteinman and took place on April 7, 2019. The day was supported by DAYS FOR GIRLS Ryde team and was attended by 70 women and girls. It was wonderful to see so many mothers and daughters, many from Moriah College, supporting this event. Sunday evening 2 June, NCJWA NSW were privileged to hear Emmy award winning Gayle Kirschenbaum. She took more than 100 people at NCJWA NSW along on a brave mother-daughter journey with her documentary film “Look At Us Now, Mother”. She sought to present the issue whether emotional abuse can ultimately be forgiven. A Q&A with Gayle followed. 17 June 2019 ~ Jana Gottshall Memorial Library event ~ Gael Hammer facilitated conversation with internationally renowned theatre producer and director Moira Blumenthal and co-producer Lyndi Adler. They spoke about their experiences working on smaller independent productions and Lyndi shared her experiences working in large musical theatre and about the upcoming production “The God of Isaac’. Friendship Circle Education Committee & NCJWA NSW co-hosted “The Disorganised Child” with keynote speaker internationally acclaimed consultant in child, adolescent and family psychiatry, Professor Samuel Stein. Prof. Stein was joined by panel members Assoc. Prof. Natalie Silove, Dr Sharon Greenberg & Caroline Basckin. More than 100 parents and professionals attended this exceptionally informative evening. We very much appreciated their support for Friendship Circle & NCJWA NSW.



We are indebted to our director of MUM FOR MUM NCJWA Nadene Alhadeff and the MUM FOR MUM NCJWA board. There are now 65 Mums volunteering in the Eastern Suburbs and 35 on the North Shore and the excellent reputation of MUM FOR MUM NCJWA program continues to grow.

NAPCAN award 2018  –  MUM FOR MUM NCJWA received one of two NAPCAN awards for NSW at a Parliamentary breakfast on Tuesday 4th September during Child Protection Week.  NAPCAN is the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. MUM FOR MUM NCJWA also received the 2018 Volunteer of the Year Team Awards from the Australian Centre for Volunteering.  We were nominated by Gabrielle Upton MP, Member for Vaucluse and by Waverley Council.


We are exceptionally fortunate Isabelle Shapiro OAM is the chair our JWBCN and NCJWA Cancer Support Network programs. Facilitator Dr Mandy Goldman Strous, President Cancer Counselling Professionals, continues to support this program.


Natalie Narunsky continues to manage this program. Various ideas are being touted re expansion of this program and tackling the growing problem of social isolation.


Gael Hammer, library chair, has formed a new library committee with Ruth Shteinman and Di Singer as committee members.


CUDDLE BUNDLES provide gifts of babywear to mums in any accessible community who have new babies and limited means.

Cuddle Bundles began as a desire to fill the needs for babywear of the more than 100 recipient mothers per year in the MUM FOR MUM NCJWA program and the generosity of the community to offer their quality used baby goods to us. This remains our chore responsibility.


Our new program was launched at NCJWA NSW on Wednesday 6 March 2019 with the support of cancer genetics specialist Dr Lesley Andrews and Isabelle Shapiro OAM as Chair of this program.

With JeneScreen now enabling any Jewish woman to have genetic testing, the NCJWA Gene Circle will provide Sydney Jewish women who carry a BRCA gene fault with a safe, confidential environment to deal with their results.

The aims are to –

  • Provide a supportive environment for women who have been found to carry a mutation
  • Facilitate the sharing of experiences to help women as they face new challenges related to their BRCA status.
  • Respond to the group’s needs for current BRCA related information


Our Northsiders and Shifra Groups continue to meet.

We look forward to you joining us.

Miri Orden, Maxine Bachmayer, Janet Merkur (Acting Co Presidents)


September 4, 2018 ~ We are exceptionally honoured our MUM FOR MUM NSW program has received one of two awards from the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN).

See video on the NCJWA NSW Facebook site   https://www.facebook.com/NCJWA.NSW/


NCJWA Statement on QLD Parliamentary vote to decriminalise abortion by the NCJWA National Board, National President Negba Weiss Dolev

Jewish Women Support the Queensland Abortion Vote

The National Council of Jewish Women of Australia congratulates the Queensland Parliament on its historic vote on 17 October 2018 to decriminalise abortion in that state. With the passage of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018, abortion will become legal until 22 weeks gestation, and after that with the approval of two doctors. Safe access zones will restrict protesters and people who harass women from coming within 150 metres of abortion clinics. The rights of choice based on religious beliefs are also protected.

NCJWA applauds that termination will be treated in Queensland as a health issue and not a criminal matter and that women can safely and legally access full reproductive healthcare, without being harassed or intimidated. NCJWA is committed to advocating for human rights, including women’s reproductive rights and the freedom of women to have control over their bodies and their lives.


NCJWA NSW is a partner with the JEWISH SUICIDE PREVENTION STRATEGY project.  What is it? In response to a number of suicides within the Jewish community, NSW’s first ever Jewish Suicide Prevention Strategy has been established. This project, which is being supported by funding from The Jewish Communal Appeal (JCA) aims to raise awareness, educate and empower members of the community. This vital project is guided by the LifeSpan Framework developed by the Black Dog Institute’s WHOLE COMMUNITY APPROACH to suicide prevention.


See article in Australian Jewish News 18 May 2018, re NCJWA National body and Unchain My Heart submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission on Gett Refusal, Jewish Divorce and Family Law. Please see link to the submission on the NCJWA website http://www.ncjwa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/NCJWA-Submission-to-ALRC.pdf