By Rachel Gross Weinstein
The first meeting of the National Council of Jewish Women Greater Dallas Section took place Wednesday, Feb. 26, 1913. Its 100th birthday luncheon will occur exactly 100 years later — Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 — when the chapter will honor a century of leadership, advocacy and community service in Dallas.
The luncheon will take place at noon at the Hilton Dallas Lincoln Center, 5410 LBJ Fwy. in Dallas. At the event, the past presidents of NCJW Dallas will be honored, a historical video will premiere and journalist and keynote speaker Laura Ling will discuss how she has advocated for women’s rights over the years and relate her experience of being detained in North Korea in 2009.
“Laura Ling and her sister, Lisa, stand up for women’s rights around the world, and that really matches our mission so well,” said Jody Platt, co-chair of the centennial committee with Rhona Frankfurt. “NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children and families. We do community service and advocacy in the community, and the history of Dallas has been interwoven within our chapter over the years. This is exciting for all of us.”
NCJW’s Dallas section started with 75 women who met at Temple Emanu-El and were committed to community service, past president Barbara Lee said. Volunteer projects were under way by 1914, and they included immigrant aid, medical inspection of schools, day nursery and free kindergarten.
It pioneered many initiatives such as:
- The Dallas area’s first after-school program.
- A recreational club for seniors.
- First Family Outreach, which counsels families at risk and works to prevent child abuse and neglect.
- Establishing HIPPY (Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters) in Dallas.
- Co-founding the Greater Dallas Coalition for Reproductive Freedom to combat threats to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion.
“Our commitment to Jewish values and to help repair the world has been a guiding force in why we do the work that we do,” said Maddy Unterberg, a past president who is co-chairing the luncheon with Marsha Fischman, Adrienne Rosen, Janice Sweet and Patty Traub. “This is what will also allow us to continue our work for the next 100 years.”
Today, the Dallas section is involved with various community service projects, including Attitudes for Attire; Hello Israel, which introduces students to the country; the Immigration Citizenship Initiative; and the Vickery Meadow Food Pantry. It also supports Israel by laying the groundwork for social changes and continues to advocate for women’s issues.
Being a Jewish woman today means supporting Israel and leading by example, said current section president Robin Zweig. These two elements are what will continue to make the organization thrive for the next 100 years, she added.
“NCJW’s support of Israel does not waver, and we have many programs in place that demonstrate our ongoing work for Israeli youth, women and families,” Zweig said. “As impactful and strong women, we are a force for social change, and we are powerful advocates for women’s rights. NCJW’s history is filled with the pioneering work of our leaders who have started and led long-lasting programs in Dallas that remain in place today.”
The luncheon is the major event to celebrate the centennial, but the organization will also conduct smaller centennial-related events throughout the year.
The year kicked off with a day of community service last month at various organizations. Other events planned are NCJW Shabbat celebrations, study groups and a Chanukah party in which 100 menorahs will be lit. A centennial history exhibit and a centennial quilt will debut at the luncheon.
NCJW Dallas was one of the first women’s organizations in the area, Lee said, adding that the committed volunteers and passionate women in the community are also what have made the organization what it is today.
“This was one of the first places to do community service in Dallas,” she said. “L’dor v’dor — from generation to generation — this is how we have survived 100 years.”
Added Zweig: “As we look forward to our next 100 years, being a Jewish woman means cultivating future leaders and volunteers to carry on our legacy. All are needed for this endeavor. We are 100 years young and we are proud of our past; we are proud and strong Jewish women. Our best days are ahead of us.”
Tickets for the luncheon cost $125 each and sponsorships are available. RSVP and payment are due by Feb. 18.
For information and to RSVP, call 214-368-4405 or visit www.ncjwdallas.org.