NCJW January 2021 News and Events
I am relieved to be looking at 2020 in the rearview mirror. As I write this, I’ve been trying to find one word to sum-up the entire year - unbelievable, unprecedented, unrelenting - but I think unforgettable works best for me. I will not forget the losses and challenges of 2020 nor the heroism and resilience of so many. And I will not forget our section’s many accomplishments and the women behind them. Here are few of this year’s highlights:

  • We turned cancelled programs into virtual programs
  • We launched the NCJW CNS Anti-Racism as a Verb Challenge
  • We brought together 20+ organizations to form Promote the Vote Illinois
  • We launched a new community service initiative NCJW Gives Back
  • We moved NCJW Court Watch online
  • We awarded grants to 5 area organizations
  • We petitioned, called, emailed and lobbied our elected officials
  • And we never gave up on the fight for reproductive justice in the wake of laws eroding Roe v. Wade.
Oh, I just thought of another word to describe 2020 - unimaginable. Who among us thought on January 1, 2020, that the year ahead would have unfolded as it did? Certainly not me! This New Year’s Day we should allow ourselves to be optimistic and to imagine our lives returning to some semblance of normal as the vaccine becomes more and more accessible. I’m also going to imagine us gathering both virtually and in person again, working hand-in-hand to continue our advocacy and volunteerism.

We have a lot of great programs coming up this month and this year. See the upcoming events section below for details or click here to see all our events on our website.

As we say goodbye to an unforgettable year and imagine the next year’s possibilities, I wish you and you and your family good health and much happiness in 2021.

Debbie Vietinghoff
Please Welcome our Newest Member
  • Amy Kleinman

Let's Celebrate some January Birthdays!
(did we miss your birthday? Click here to update your membership information or email
  • Bev Frank
  • Judith Homer
  • Sara Kurensky
  • Melissa Prober
  • Jan Schwartz
  • Cindy Wolfson
Let's Do Something Amazing Together!
Call for NCJWCNS Leadership Nominations!

The NCJW Chicago North Shore Nominating Committee will be meeting soon to begin the selection of new executive team and board members to fill the terms of those rolling off the Board. The term for a director is for two years to be installed in June 2021, and the term for a Board Member at Large is for one year. There are also some committee and project chair positions to be filled as well! If you know someone who would be a terrific leader with NCJW, including self-nominations, we welcome them!

Being a part of the NCJW Board is an excellent way to give back to the community, work with and learn from amazing women, and lead our vital organization. Not sure what role would be a good fit for you? Shoot the nominating committee an email and they will be in touch!

Please submit your nominations for the NCJWCNS Board here
or download the nomination form and email to
NCJW Tribute Cards
You can honor and celebrate a special event in you or a loved one's life by purchasing an NCJW tribute. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and personal wins - big or small - are all great ways to honor and celebrate those we love and are most proud of.

Click here for information on how to order tributes
To: Donna Fishman
From: Susan Kaplan
In memory of Sharon Doney and in honor of Donna Fishman

To: Beth Najberg
From: Candice Goldstein
In honor of Beth Najberg

To: Sue Colby
From: Steven Wexler
In memory of Carol Colby

To: Joan London
From: Lynda Pogofsky
In honor of your grandson’s bar mitzvah
To: Beth Najberg
From: Adam Lisberg
In honor of Beth Najberg

To: Jan Schwartz
From: Sam Schwartz-Fenwick (Sam, Steve and Eve)
In honor of Jan Schwartz

To: Robbie Schreiber
From: Andria Winters
In honor of Robbie Schreiber

To: Marcy and Michael Stillman
From: Bonnie Braverman
In honor of your anniversary
Unpacking the challenge: Anti-Racism as a Verb
Wednesday, January 6, 2021, 7:00 pm
For the last 18+ weeks, we have examined our own biases and privileges during our Anti-Racism is a Verb Challenge. There’s been so much to digest during the Challenge! On Wednesday, January 6th at 7:00pm please join us to reflect, unpack, and discuss the Challenge and plan next steps to make anti-racism a verb. We will provide a safe virtual space for open conversation. Click here for more information and to Register.

We recommend watching the Ted Talk The Danger of a Single Story with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Click here to watch in advance or join us just before the Unpacking (on January 6 at 6:30pm) and watch together.

Sex Trafficking: Facts and Fictions
Thursday, January 14, 2021, 7:00 pm
Over the last few years, our understanding of the nature and prevalence of sex trafficking has changed. Gone are the days when we were surprised it was happening in our own communities. It is the third largest international crime industry grossing $1.34 trillion and selling as many as 100,000 children across the world. But there are plenty of myths and misconceptions about what human and sex trafficking is really all about. Join us for an open conversation with Gayle Nelson, Engagement and Development Director for NCJW's JCAST Chicago, as we try and separate the facts from the fiction. Click here to register.

NCJW Salon: Mending Relationships Across the Political Divide
Wednesday, January 20, 2021, 7:30 pm
Join us for an introspective conversation: Un-Blocking friends and family who disagree with my politics: My New Year Resolution to re-build relationships after the political tumult of the last 4 years. 2021! A new year and looking ahead to public policies that support NCJW priorities. But after four years of deep divisions in this country and sometimes in our own relationships with friends and families, how do we go about healing and coming together?

In our January NCJW Salon, we will explore the pain of and solutions for healing the deep divisions in our country. We will focus on our own experiences with divisions that have exacerbated in the last four years and ways we can re-build personal relationships. Click here for suggested readings/video and to register.

NCJW Spotlight: Housing 101:
Affordable Housing in Chicago, Post-WWI to 2021
Monday, January 25, 2021, 7:00 pm
Fair and affordable housing in Chicago has been a challenge since World War II ended. Speaker Rebecca Janowitz, Special Assistant for Legal Affairs at
Cook County Justice Advisory Council, will enlighten us about the challenges, including a brief look back at post-war housing, the general barriers to having sufficient affordable and fair housing in Chicago, housing for justice, landlords, big and small, bureaucratic challenges and what we can do to help going forward.
Click here to register.

Domestic Abuse, Coronavirus and the Courts
Wednesday, January 27, 2021, 7:00 pm
COVID-19 has taken its toll on everyone, but for those who live with an abuser, the pandemic is making matters even worse. The combination of stress, isolation, and confinement can cause tempers to flare and the situation is especially dangerous when a victim cannot easily leave the presence of the abuser. At the beginning of the Pandemic, many agencies reduced services or shutdown. Even domestic violence courts were forced to restrict their operations during the pandemic. Join us on January 27 for a discussion on domestic abuse, the courts and the pandemic with Judge Megan Goldish who has served as a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County Domestic Violence Division since 2014.
Click here to register.

State of Our Union: Advancing the Rights of Women, Children, and Families
Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 5:30pm central
Join us on Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 5:30pm central and learn how NCJW is responding to the incoming administration. As we enter 2021, NCJW advocates are looking ahead to the powerful change we are poised to make along-side the 117th Congress and Biden-Harris administration to protect the rights of the vulnerable, with special attention to injustices surrounding gender, race, religious, and economic inequalities. During this event, we will be joined by legislators who champion our issues and who have broken barriers and brought new perspectives and identities to congress. They'll share about the priorities they're working on and their vision for the path forward with our issues. Together we’ll learn how each of us can personally make a difference and demonstrate to the new Congress the imperative to improve the lives of women, children, and families. Visit for details.
Introducing NCJW Spotlight
2021 you’ll see Spotlight: A NCJW Salon for all the upcoming online gatherings that used to be City Salon.

Why the change? Because we’re no longer just for folks in the city. We started out, in February, 2019, meeting in people’s homes to learn about current events issues with an emphasis on social justice, true to NCJW’s mission. We’re now online and people from around the country join us. 

How did we come up with Spotlight? An amazing group of women met via Zoom, to identify what we do, and spotlighting these issues and tying them to advocacy is our purpose. Thanks to Bev Copeland, Merle Gross, Jill Lexier, Elena Morone, Jan Schwartz, and facilitated by Beth Najberg, for unbounded energy and commitment to involving everyone in the issues. 

What it means. The only change you’ll notice is the name! You’ll receive notices about upcoming salons that say NCJW Spotlight: upcoming issue in the subject line. So NCJW Spotlight: Housing 101 is the January 25, 2021, salon. You’ll also receive notices about both NCJW CNS monthly education forums in an email, so be alert for an email that says January Online Salons - two programs! Also note that emails will be sent via Zoom, not from Beth’s account.

This is our tentative 2021 schedule:
  • January 25: Housing 101. Fair Housing/Affordable Housing
  • February 22: Issues facing the Native American Community
  • March 22: Tax infrastructure. Intersection of income, sales, and 
  • property taxes. It’s not wonky, it’s your money! 
  • April 26: Climate Change. Henry Moss, Citizens Climate Lobby
  • May 24: Repro: Maternal Health care
  • June 28: LGBTQ
  • July 28: Voting in Illinois
  • August 23: Criminal justice, police reform, bail reform. 
  • September: No salon
  • October 26: NCJW Spotlight Workshop: propaganda, misinformation. How to manage it, fight it.
Promote the Vote IL Update
NCJW Chicago North Shore is a founding member of Promote the Vote IL. The Coalition which began in March 2020 to promote the vote in the midst of a pandemic, has grown to a group of 21 nonprofit organizations representing diverse communities across Illinois. Promote the Vote is dedicated to strengthening voting rights and voter education, especially among the disenfranchised and those with limited access to the internet and other educational resources.

Among our many accomplishments, the coalition developed, printed, and distributed 120,000 voter information postcards through a broad network of community organizations throughout the state for the November 2020 election. This was a coordinated effort to elucidate the temporary voting regulations that the General Assembly passed to make voting safe, fair, and accessible during the November 2020 election. Now that these regulations have sunset, our shift in focus is to Protect the Vote by supporting permanent voting legislation that can make voting more available for voters, and more efficient for election authorities.

The General Assembly will be introducing permanent voting legislation in the spring, but in many Illinois Counties, there will be primaries in February 2021 and elections in April 2021. It is clear, the pandemic will still be here and voters will choose to vote by mail. They will also want the assurity of delivery that the drop boxes provide. Promote the Vote IL sent a statement this week to key Illinois state legislators urging them to reauthorize the use of the existing ballot drop boxes. Please support these efforts by calling your state legislators in the next few days.

Contact your state legislators now Tell them to reauthorize ballot drop boxes now: Without immediate state reauthorization of drop box use, election authorities will not be able to use them in the February and April 2021. The pandemic will be far from over and mail-in voting will still be in high demand. Drop boxes help insure safe and fair elections in February & April.
NCJW Gives Back Update
The first three months of NCJW Gives Back were an amazing success. Thanks to the generosity of our members and supports, we collected ana amazing amount of items that were delivered to our participating programs and agencies:
  • NCJW's Luggage for Freedom Project
  • The Ark (Chicago)
  • Niles Township Food Pantry (Skokie)
  • Nuestro Center (Highwood)
  • Shalva
  • Cradles to Crayons

NCJW Gives Back is taking January off to plan our next few months of community service. Watch your inboxes or visit our website for more information. And if you'd like to see photos of our past collections, visit and click on the appropriate links.
NCJW's Repro Shabbat
February 12-13
Repro Shabbat is an opportunity for congregations, organizations, and communities to celebrate the critical importance of reproductive health access, reproductive rights, and reproductive justice, and to learn more about Judaism’s approach to these issues. Timed with Parshat Mishpatim, the Torah portion that outlines Judaism’s perspective on abortion, NCJW’s Repro Shabbat is an opportunity for congregations, organizations, communities, and families to celebrate the critical importance of reproductive health access, reproductive rights, and reproductive justice, and to learn more about Judaism’s approach to these issues. To see if your local synagogue is participating or to ask your synagogue to participate, save the date and check back at to find all of the registered events you can participate in. If you'd like to help reach out to local clergy and encourage them to either join Rabbis for Repro or host an NCJW Repro Shabbat program at their synagogue, email and we can get you started.
Currently, the Illinois Senate is preparing for the upcoming lame duck legislative session in early January. We’ve lost too many lives to wait any longer for our lawmakers to take action. Senate President Don Harmon has an opportunity to lead the last vote needed to pass SB1966 the BIO Bill to Fix the FOID before this legislative year comes to a close.

Click here to email Senate President Harmon and ask him to pass the BIO Bill before the end of this legislative year

What is the Fix FOID Act?
Illinois has an opportunity to help keep all children safe from everyday gun violence by passing SB 1966, the BIO Bill to Fix the FOID. The bill has four major goals, the first of which is to require background checks at the point of sale for all gun purchases. This would also apply to unlicensed gun dealers, addressing what has been known as the "gun show loophole." The Fix the FOID Act also includes a provision to lessen the validity of a FOID card from 10 years to five years. Those who apply for a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card would be required to submit fingerprints with their applications. The fee for a FOID card would also increase from $10 to $50. If a FOID card is revoked, Illinois State Police would be required to take action and retrieve any guns in the card holder's possession.
What is a Firearm Restraining Order?
A Firearm Restraining Order is a civil court order issued by a judge that temporarily prohibits a person in crisis from possessing or purchasing firearms. Firearm Restraining Orders provide families and law enforcement officers with a formal legal process to temporarily reduce an individual’s access to firearms if they pose a danger to themselves or others.

In many high profile shootings, the family members of the shooters saw their loved ones engage in dangerous behaviors and grew concerned about their risk of harming themselves or others—even before any violence occurred. In fact, family members are often the first to know when loved ones are in crisis in the many incidents of interpersonal violence and suicide that take place across this country every day. However, a gap in most states’ laws makes it hard for families and law enforcement to intervene. A Firearm Restraining Order fills this gap by creating a mechanism for family and household members to work with law enforcement to temporarily remove guns and prevent the purchase of new guns by individuals who pose an elevated risk of endangering themselves or others. This law will save lives while ensuring critical legal protections for respondents, just as it has in states that have already taken this responsible step.

Click here for additional information that you can share with friends and family.
Support NCJW
Chicago North Shore has several new ways to support our section. As always, you can make a one time donation or purchase a tribute (links are below), you can even purchase an NCJW star necklace or hanger charm or become a monthly donor!

NCJW is recognized as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Contributions to it are tax deductible to the full extent provided by the law.