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In 1891, Hannah G. Solomon was asked to organize the participation of Jewish women for the upcoming Chicago World’s Fair. When Hannah and her recruits discovered they were expected to perform hostess duties, they refused and planned a revolutionary women’s forum instead. Convening in 1893 at the World Parliament of Religions, these courageous Jewish women from throughout the country changed the role of women and the nature of volunteerism forever by founding the National Council of Jewish Women.
Since the 19th century, NCJW has realized its mission with pioneering programs and initiatives that honor and protect freedom, individual rights, and civil liberties, as well as through service projects that benefit local communities. Our proud history tells a wonderful story that is worth sharing.
|Hannah Solomon (nee Greenbaum) born. (Died in 1942).
|During the planning for the World’s Fair, Hannah and friends decide that they can do more than help play hostess and serve coffee in the Women’s Building. They move to the Parliament of Religions, “where women of all creeds were represented, and the Jewish woman should have a place.” There they establish the Jewish Women’s Congress.
|During the Jewish Women’s Congress at the World’s Fair, Hannah G. Solomon called for the first Jewish Women’s Organization, giving birth to the National Council of Jewish Women. Women attending the Congress included Henrietta Szold, Minnie Louis, Sadie American, Josephine Lazarus, Henrietta Frank, Hannah Solomon and Ellen Henrotin. Solomon serves as president from 1893 -1905.
|First Triennial Convention, held at Sinai Congregation. Headline speaker: Rabbi Emil Hirsch.
|Solomon and NCJW work with Jane Addams on immigrant aid in Chicago.
NCJW’s Projects in Chicago
1893 – 2000 (merged with North Shore Section in 2000)
|Summer camp in Wauconda for immigrant families
Resettlement work Sabbath Schools
Senior Employment Opportunities
JOY Program for
|Windows on Day Care Study
Ship-a-Box (to Israel) Hello Israel
Juvenile justice survey
|Task force on privacy study
Y.E.S. Senior Service Aid
Tapes for Tots
The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.
NCJW built its national legacy by stepping forward and speaking out on crucial issues years before others followed its courageous example. Our national headquarters is located in Washington D.C. and it also maintains an office in Israel where NCJW’s social action agenda in Israel mirrors its interests and efforts in the United States. Through its Jerusalem office, NCJW works with coalition partners to promote women’s rights, tolerance and coexistence, the well-being of women, children, and families, and US support for Israel.
Closer to home, local NCJW sections, including our Chicago North Shore Section, have been instrumental in making a difference in the lives of thousands of people. NCJW helped develop the Meals-on-Wheels program, becoming the first national Jewish organization to join the initiative and serve on its national board. Locally, NCJW worked with the Trinity Episcopal Church in Highland Park to establish Tri-Con Child Care Center when a growing need for subsidized child care developed in the North Shore area. NCJW looks for a “need” in a community. Then our dedicated members find ways to fill that need. Our current community service projects include volunteering at Tri-Con, serving meals at local Soup Kitchens, bringing dignity to domestic violence survivors, providing arts programming for disadvantaged children through the Dorothy Cohen Fine Arts Initiative and much more.
NCJW is a strong advocate for women and children. In communities across the globe, NCJW’s programs reflect the spirit of the organization itself. NCJW’s Strategies to Prevent Domestic Violence (SToP) facilitate education, outreach, advocacy, and community action. In August 1999, our section, in coalition with a local chapter of NOW, initiated a Domestic Violence Courtwatch at the 2nd Municipal Court of Cook County in Skokie. Our mission is to hold the justice system accountable and to advocate for needed community services for families affected by domestic violence. Our Luggage for Freedom program aims to provide a sense of dignity to women who transitioning out of domestic violence shelters by giving them a suitcase packed with some personal and household items. The Silent Witness Exhibit honors women in Illinois who have been murdered through acts of domestic violence. The powerful memorial consists of life-sized figures of women murdered through acts of domestic violence as well as figures representing the small but very real amount of male victims and the children left motherless.
The NCJW Chicago North Shore Section has roughly 1000 members who participate in a number of important community service, advocacy, and education programs. We provide opportunities for all members to enjoy the company of like-minded individuals who are striving to make a difference in our communities, in the U.S. and in Israel through community service, advocacy, education, and social programming.