The National Council of Jewish Women, Vancouver Section, founded in 1924, is a voluntary organization which was chartered in affiliation with the International Council of Jewish Women and the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada. The Branch has operated continually since that time, offering services to Jewish and non-Jewish families locally and internationally in the areas of education, social service, and social action.
Projects initiated at the local level over the years include assistance to refugees from Europe before and during World War II and sponsorship of a Jewish orphanage in Bergstitiching, Holland. During the 1950s the Section concentrated on matters of health care for children and seniors including the study into the emotional care of children in hospitals, and reports and recommendations regarding the social needs of senior citizens. During the 1970s the Branch initiated a Kosher Meals on Wheels program, managed a mobile preschool and purchased a mobile hearing testing bus for preschool children (first van was presented in 1983; second van was presented in 1985). Studies into the care of seniors continued. Members also worked in liaison with other Jewish organizations such as the Jewish Family Services Agency and the Canadian Jewish Congress in matters such as care of seniors and the treatment refugees. Through the 1980s members of the Section participated in matters of national and international concern, such as the meeting for the United Nations Decade for Women in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985.
Other projects and services are: English classes for immigrants; volunteer training programs; establishment of Golden Age Club at the Jewish Community Centre in 1950; various World War II projects including library hut for soldiers in Terrace; sponsorship of L’Chaim Centre for Adult Daycare with Jewish Family Service Agency; scholarships and bursaries at SFU and UBC (in ethnic relations, gerontology and general studies); prizes to students at Emily Carr Art School and UBC Faculty of Music; financial support for annual symposium on Holocaust education at UBC for Lower Mainland high school students; support for various services to children, seniors and newcomers, including Red Cross Child Abuse Prevention program; Citizenship Court hostesses; volunteers for Canadian Cancer Society and Vancouver Children’s Festival; publication of Shalom Community Directory with UJA; and “Best of Council” cookbook.
The Branch operates with a locally elected Board of Directors which is responsible to the membership. The Board President reports to the President of the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada and attends meetings at the national level. Policies and policy directives from the National level influence the Section’s stands on matters such as abortion, human rights, and health care.
A number of separate meeting groups have existed through the Section’s history. The demographics and purposes of the groups may be characterized by their titles, such as the Evening Group, The Bride’s Group, The Business and Professional Women’s Group, Hannah G. Soloman Branch, and the National Council of Jewish Juniors, with activities keyed to membership talents and interests. Until 1958, each meeting group kept their own minutes and records of activities on an informal basis. Starting that year each group or sub-branch elected a Board of Directors and minutes and other records were directed toward the president of the Afternoon Branch, who served as overall Section President.
In 1960 an Inner Council was formed by the President of the Vancouver Section, Past Presidents, and members of the National Board of Directors, a recording secretary, a corresponding secretary, and a member from each operating group. In 1983-84 Branches and groups were again functioning autonomously, without the recognized authority of a Section president. This led to the development of a coordinating or CORE committee, under the co-chairmanship of Miriam Warren and Ruth Weinberg.
Vancouver Section Highlights:
1924 – Vancouver Section formed and Sunday morning Religious School founded
1926 – Opened “Council House” on Jackson Ave., precursor to the JCC opened in 1928
1927 – Established Well-Baby Clinic
1932 – Published first Council Cookbook
1933 – Set up Noodle Factory to create employment for newcomers on relief
1937 – Opened Council Camp at Crescent Beach, first permanent Jewish camp in Western Canada which became Camp Hatikvah
1942 – Provided and furnished library hut and recreation area for soldiers at Terrace, BC
1949 – Sponsored English night school classes, and sent aid overseas through “Ship-A-Box”
1949 – Donated $12,500 to JCC Building Fund for Golden Age Lounge
1950 – Opened Golden Age Club at JCC, due to organizing efforts of Bessie Diamond and Thelma Ginsberg
1953 – Ran Thrift Shop until 1979 to raise funds for projects and outfit the needy
1956 – Helped resettle Hungarian refugees
1965 – Initiated first Head Start preschool in Vancouver in Riley Park area
1970 – Established Jewish Historical Society of BC with Canadian Jewish Congress, Pacific Region
1971 – Initiated Schools for Citizen Participation
1971 – Established Welcome Wagon/Info Centre at JCC
1972 – Inaugurated preschool hearing screening program, leading to gift of two mobile vans to Vancouver Health Department
1973 – Coordinated Tay Sachs clinic
1982 – Co-sponsored and provided seed money for creation of L’Chaim Adult Day Care Centre
1985 – Published first edition of “Shalom! – Welcome to Vancouver” Directory
1987 – Hosted International Council of Jewish Women and NCJW of Canada Conventions
1988 – Published second edition of “Shalom!” directory, funded by Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver