Never underestimate the power of a few to impact the lives of many.

“The National Council of Jewish Women is an organization with progressive goals,” explained Lynn Goldfarb, board president of its Southern Maine Section during a wine tasting and silent auction on Aug. 13 at Portland’s Press Hotel.

“Our primary goal is making the lives of women, children and families better. We have a membership of people who are committed to social service.”

As guests sipped wine, perused the silent auction tables featuring spa treatments, travel packages and tickets to various sporting events, the intimate crowd discussed matters that move them most, including education, literacy, food insecurity, women’s rights and providing support to refugees.

“We look at things like family planning, individual rights,” said Goldfarb, “because everybody is a human being.”

“The need is so great for the Backpack Program,” said Gail Volk of Cumberland, board president in 1980 and again in 2005, about the organization’s effort to distribute backpacks full of supplies to all kindergarteners entering the Portland public schools that have the greatest number of students from low-income families. “And this year alone, we gave out close to 20 scholarships.”


Her friend and fellow past president Barbara Peisner of Portland agreed.

“The need is great, so we do the best we can.”

Several of the organization’s past presidents attended, including Susan Steinkeler of Falmouth, Linda Jacobs of Cape Elizabeth and Diane Volk of Cumberland Foreside.

“It’s such an amazing organization that continues to get reinvented through the years,” said Peggy Shapiro of Portland, who attended with her husband, Steve. She serves on the board as assistant recording secretary.

“For more than 90 years, the Southern Maine Section of the NCJW has been at the forefront of social change,” explained board member Marcy Black. “We’ve been long-time supporters of Family Crisis Services and the Women’s Emergency Shelter. We help refugees from Darfur start new lives here in America with tutoring and helping them to further their education.”

“We’re Jewish mothers,” she went on to say with a smile. “We want to see all children fed … but you don’t have to be Jewish or a woman to join.”

Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be contacted at:

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