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Message From Our CEO

July 16, 2021 12:05 PM | Anonymous

What does it mean to be Jewish? What does it mean to be a Jewish woman? I often hear people say “I’m not religious.” What does that mean? Since I have been in Melbourne, I find it means different things to different people, and certainly it has a different connotation than how Americans use the same expression. But, whether you keep a kosher house, light Shabbat candles, have a Friday night family dinner, or do none of the above, we all have our own connection to our Judaism and our Jewishness, even if you are “Jew-ish.”

Growing up, I don’t think I got what being Jewish was all about. My Grandparents lived in Brooklyn next door to an ultra-orthodox shul. I vividly remember seeing the men and boys walk to shul in the morning with their black hats, and women covered from head to toe. One Saturday morning, I stood at the window and, as they walked by, said to my Grandma Tillie “I’m not really Jewish” . She turned me right around, held my chin, looked me straight in the eye and said “yes, you are Jewish. Even if you don’t dress like that.” It wasn’t until years later, not long after she passed and I was away at college, where I faced anti-Semitism firsthand, that it connected. I heard her in my head - she was right. She was always right; I was Jewish.

As Jewish women, it is incumbent upon us as the matriarchs of our families to pass on the connection we each feel to our heritage, to our families and traditions, to the community and even to our religion. Lately it seems that almost every day there is a news story about anti-Semitism and gender equality issues. We have our work cut out for us. We cannot rely on the broader community to stand up of us if we don’t do it ourselves first. We need to build relationships, educate our youth, and ask ourselves the very question I first asked myself nearly 25 years ago - "what are we going to do about it?"

NCJWA Vic is working every day to address this question. By supporting our Golden Age Clubs and seniors through our Connect programs, we demonstrate our commitment to never again. We provide a home for isolated seniors who want connection and a sense of community based on our Jewish values.

THANK YOU to all of you who so generously supported our organisation’s EOFY 2021 campaign. Through your generosity we can carry on our commitment to serve women and girls in our community, and give them a feeling of connection, dignity and hope.

My hope for my girls and yours is that one day they too are members of this incredible organisation and feel the same sense of pride and connection to their Judaism and to our community.

Together, as Jewish women, we have an opportunity and responsibility to engage our youth and our elders to address the many issues we are facing. From anti-Semitism and gender equality, to Jewish continuity and beyond, our organisation is committed to being the voice of women in our community. But we cannot do it without each of you. From our programs that serve women and girls across the stages of the lifecycle, to our vital work on gender equality we must not be silent. We must stand together and proudly support one another from issues in the boardroom to obtaining a get, we are all in it together. In the coming weeks we have several events and programs designed to address these issue. This Sunday, our Jam Project will host a special Jam Session to motivate, educate, and inspire the young women to understand the power they each hold and the impact they can have on our community and world. On 29th July we will host our 2021 Mina Fink Lecture with the one and only Elana Rubin AM, Chair of Afterpay, in conversation with Helen Silver AO on the importance of empowering women in the boardroom and beyond. I hope you will all  join us for this important topic. REGISTER NOW >

Next month, on the 26th of August, I invite each of you to join us for the NCJWA Vic Annual General Meeting. This is an ideal opportunity for you to come, listen, and learn about what this great team has accomplished over the past fiscal year, and to hear firsthand the direction we intend to take in this new world. As last year's was online, fingers crossed it will be held in person this year and we hope to be able to properly introduce our new leadership and me, the new CEO, since we have limited opportunities to do so. Together, we will share, celebrate and engage in the power we all share as Jewish women. I look forward to meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones.

As Daniel Pearl said with his last words “I am a Jew.” So, too am I. Together we can work towards seeing the next generation stand tall and proud and proclaim that they too are proud to be Jewish women, and will continue the proud legacy of the women of NCJWA Vic.

Alexandra P Silver

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