By ALAN SMASON, Exclusive to the CCJN
The Greater New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) honored its outgoing president and her board on Tuesday night, May 21, at its annual Closing Event. Held at the new Filmore in the Oaks facility in City Park, members enjoyed a festive meal as a new slate of officers and board members was approved to replace that of Barbara Kaplinsky and her board.
The Harold Salmon Award, given annually to a New Orleans NCJW Section member who has excelled in fulfilling its mission of commitment to enhancing the position of women and working to improve politics in general was bestowed upon former president Barbara Greenberg.
Loel Weil Samuel recapped much of Greenberg’s impressive list of accomplishments including being the driving force behind the establishment of the very first Moonlighters branch. “Because our section was the first in the country to implement Moonlight’s program, Barbara was instrumental in creating the model for all future National Council of Jewish Women Moonlighters branches,” Weil said.
Weil reeled off a list of positions Greenberg held including corresponding secretary, vice president of public affairs and community service, chair of the Hannah G. Solomon Award committee and the nominating committee. Weill presented the glass engraved award to Greenberg before she gave her thanks to the membership in a short acceptance speech.
Greenberg said that her reaction to being named the recipient of the award ran first from surprise to excitement and then humbled. “To be ranked among the icons of past recipients is an honor of which I will always be proud,” she stated. “I certainly did not perform any task with awards as my goal. If I’m assigned a task, I just go about doing it Barbara-style.”
Greenberg called out several of her past mentors at NCJW including Grace Hudson, Joan Berenson and Joan Bronk. “I still remember being told ‘Make no assumptions. Delegate downward and follow structure.” Today I may forget where I put down my cell phone, but I’ll never forget those lessons,” she added.
She credited her strong work effort to the example that was set for her by her “daddy,” retired Temple Sinai emeritus executive director and Hebrew Rest Cemetery Association executive director Herbert Barton. “I learned no matter how small the task “Be organized. Put forth unlimited effort and leave no stone unturned Do the job well,'” she continued.
Greenberg also credited her mother of blessed memory as having first introduced her to “what we called Council back then” and serving as an example of commitment to its programming.
Barbara Kaplinsky recapped the last two years in her role as NCJW Section president and the many accomplishments during her term. She credited the support and guidance of Dana Shepard, Sarah Covert, Sue Singer and Ina Davis and her predecessor Susan Kierr. “Among many women, these five have been truly beneficial,” she stated.
Kaplinsky also thanked the past NCJW Section presidents. “They inspired me to chart a course that respected the past, but also looked toward the future. Sadly, five phenomenal past presidents passed away during my term – Phyllis Nitzkin, Sara Stone, Margot Garon, Beth Rosenthal and Joan Berenson,” Kaplinsky noted.
“It was Joan who installed me as president just two short years ago,” she continued. “They will be forever remembered, forever missed,” she added.
Florence Schoernstein presented the slate of candidates for office that had been put forth by the Nominating Committee. The membership accepted the slate by a hand vote and the incoming officers and board members were duly installed..
As the incoming president, Susan Hess was introduced by former NCJW president Ina Davis, who unrolled a five-foot long list of all the various offices Hess had held over the course of her association with NCJW.
“The question I have asked myself in getting ready to be president is ‘Where do we go from here?'” Hess posited. “Of course we want to continue our exceptional efforts involving community service and advocacy because the needs of the less fortunate never really go away.”
Hess reeled off a number of projects NCJW has been involved with and which it will continue to support such as Fox 8 Defenders, Girls on the Run, Court Watch NOLA and others dealing with women’s rights and voter registration.
Hess announced NCJW’s commitment to four completely new projects, which she listed as Silence Is Violence, World of Difference, Project Literacy Alliance and LowerNine.org.
“Our new projects especially will need new volunteers to work with them,” Hess acknowledged as a goal. “I would like us to really upgrade our volunteerism, particularly trying to reengage members of long standing who are no longer active in our programming.”
She said she hopes to increase membership in a substantial way through this outreach. “If each of us gets one member – no matter how old – we will have increased the membership in this organization by over ten percent,” Hess concluded.
Here are photos from the event: