At the National Council of Jewish Women’s first “Women Who Dare” luncheon May 30, 200 gathered at The Temple to celebrate a panel of “sheroes:” Elana Bekerman Frank, Elizabeth Finn Johnson, Dr. Mimi Zieman and Joanie Shubin. Valerie Habif was also honored, but could not attend.
The panel discussion with the women was moderated by longtime Jewish community activist Lois Frank.
Rabbi Loren Filson Lapidus gave a rousing invocation. “Women need to push boundaries as did Devorah and Ruth. … Don’t wait for permission. Go ahead and roar!”
The women honored were indeed accomplished, but the true shero was the new NCJW president Sherry Frank. No stranger to leadership or plain-speaking, Frank laid out a plan to use the council’s 50-year history as a springboard for her plans to turn this “moment into a movement.”
Frank started by laying out her goal to lift up the NCJW agenda by expanding the overall mission and increasing volunteerism. She outlined sponsored events such as the recent Atlanta Jewish Film Festival’s “Ask Dr. Ruth” movie and Q&A with Ruth’s daughter, the Community Women’s Seder at Congregation Or Hadash, and strides made in literacy tutoring at elementary schools, which involved more than 100 volunteers.
“Five thousand needy students got to select Mother’s Day jewelry gifts for their Moms and deserving others. We recently hosted 17 Israeli feminists including Palestinians in Washington, D.C., … the largest group in history at one time.”
Frank also has vision on important topics such as gun control, hate crimes, women’s rights, protection against sex crimes, and voting rights. She said to watch for NCJW billboards coming soon to Atlanta streets.
Before the program, past NCJW president Luci Sunshine said, “I’m so glad Sherry is taking over. She is a genius.” Event co-chair Ronnie van Gelder also praised Frank’s foresight and creative energy.
As part of the event, NCJW national treasurer Sue Tilis presented the Hannah G. Solomon Award to a surprised Rachel Rosner, treasurer of the Atlanta council and a former president, for her optimism and relentlessness.
Event co-chair Ray Ann Kremer said, “NCJW is important because that’s how my generation learned to be leaders.”
For more upcoming NCJW events: Georgia Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs) speaks about the “heartbeat bill” at noon on June 11 at the NCJW office for a free lunch ’n’ learn. Former CNN executive Gail Evans interviews Sherry Frank at 10:30 a.m. June 19 at Park Place in Buckhead about Frank’s new book, “A Passion to Serve.”