A faith in the future. A belief in action.
National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh

Our History

As National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh Section celebrates its 120th year and enters its 13th decade of service to this community, we acknowledge the thousands of women who, since 1893 have, generation to generation, dared to dream big and confront the social, economic, and political issues of their time. Improving the lives of women, families, and children continues to be the polestar by which we hone our projects, commit our energy, and focus our numbers. By providing opportunities to those in need, building collaborations with like-minded organizations to ensure best results, and harnessing the talent and energy of our members, NCJW Pittsburgh Section continues to be a force of change and service.

Our legacy is rich. We celebrate the past and are energized by the strength of the women who have come before us to continue to make a difference in the lives of women, children, and families.

 

1890s

The first Kindergarten in Pittsburgh Public Schools (1894), followed by the introduction of a Penny Lunch in 1911 which became the School District’s Cafeteria Program

1894

The Columbian Council Settlement School, which became the Irene Kaufmann Settlement and later, the Jewish Community Center

1920s

League for the Handicapped (1929), which became the Vocational Rehabilitation Center and is today known as Life’sWork

1945

Cerebral Palsy Recreational Work, which became Pioneer School (collaboration with the Pittsburgh School District)

1952

Nursery School for Deaf Children

1957

Council House, later known as Renaissance Center, was the county’s first resocialization program for discharged mental patients

1963

Head Start, one of the first in the United States

1964

Job Corps recruitment and screening in collaboration with National Council of Negro Women, National Council of Christian Women United

1968

Oral History Project – a multidecade effort to record the Jewish immigrant experience in Pittsburgh and the stories of those making contributions to the success of the region

1969

Testing and Remediation Program for Children with Learning Disabilities in the Pittsburgh School District

1974

Russian Resettlement

1975

Friends Indeed – the first of a longterm effort to support and assist female teens leaving incarceration. Program expanded to a supervised Residential Apartment setting in 1979, a Volunteer Probation Project which added boys to the program, a Service Project for delinquent youth to fulfill community service in 1987 and a Volunteer Mentoring Project. Parts of this Project went on to exist at the Boys and Girls Club of Western PA and at Whales Tale

1980

Children’s Playrooms in the Courts are a safe, stress-free environment for children while their parents are involved in court proceedings. The first room opened in Family Court in 1980. Additional Rooms opened in Juvenile Court in 1989, in Criminal Court in 2000, and in Municipal Court in 2002. The Family Court and Juvenile Court Rooms merged into one room in 2000

1983

First Adult Day Care in Allegheny County; now a part of the Jewish Association on Aging

HIPPY – Home Instruction for PreSchool Youngsters. Spun off to the Pittsburgh School District

1993

Komen Pittsburgh Race for the Cure – NCJW was the local founder and local organizing sponsor for 13 years before the Race became a Komen affiliate

1997

Silent Witness Initiative (domestic violence awareness and outreach) expanded to include the Poster Project and Sheila’s Shawls in 2003

1998

Suit Yourself provides clothing vouchers to women in programs of self-improvement and job readiness

1999

Pic A Bag provides duffle bags filled with necessities for children removed abruptly from their homes to enter temporary shelter or foster care. Project expanded to include homeless children and children in domestic violence shelters

2000

Children’s Literacy Project – tutoring for elementary students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools

2002

BatchPacks – a backpack project in collaboration with the Best of the Batch Foundation (Pittsburgh Steeler Charlie Batch) in which Section provided backpacks and school supplies for students at Barrett Elementary School in Homestead, PA

2006

Jane B. Lobl Family/Juvenile Court Playroom opens to children of prospective and sitting jurors, enabling Allegheny County to increase the diversity of the jurors’ pool

2007

NCJW’s Social Enterprise retail store begins its training program for children with disabilities and their mentors from local schools, providing work skill development and continuing education within real-world work environments

2009

Advocacy efforts, directed to the nomination of Supreme Court Justice, expanding on the Pennsylvania Coalition on Constitutional Values

2011

Gwen’s Girls Partnership – working with girls who are aging out of Pennsylvania’s foster care system by providing summer art classes, tutoring, and holiday/back-to-school  programs

2012

Summer internships to Gwen’s Girls recipients for experience with work in the Children’s Playrooms in the Courts and at retail locations

The Personal Care Closet provides supplies and emergency items for women and children in immediate need. NCJW distributes women’s and children’s bags of essential personal care products through a vouchers program with partner organizations such as POWER and the Women’s Center & Shelter

2013

NCJW launches the Center for Women in Partnership with the Jewish Women’s Foundation. The Center for Women exists to help women of all ages throughout the Greater Pittsburgh area, including women in transition, female heads of households, and other populations of women with areas related to achieving economic independence. The Center aims to provide women with financial skills, education related to workforce entry/re-entry, mentorship and internship opportunities, and referrals to additional support services

Become Part of NCJW's History

As we continue to work toward a better future, NCJW needs you - your time, talents, and financial support - more than ever. We hope you'll take advantage of the many opportunities membership in NCJW affords.