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NCJW/Essex honors local women
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NCJW/Essex honors local women

Melanie Harrison, left, passes the gavel to her mother, Shari Harrison, who was installed as the new president of NCJW/Essex.
Melanie Harrison, left, passes the gavel to her mother, Shari Harrison, who was installed as the new president of NCJW/Essex.

Shari Harrison of Livingston was installed as president of National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section, at the organization’s annual Installation and Awards Evening June 1 at Cedar Hill Country Club in Livingston. The event drew over 200 members and guests.

Harrison, who has been involved with NCJW for over 20 years in numerous capacities, said, “I am truly honored that NCJW/Essex — the premier, the smartest, and the most professional volunteer organization around — has chosen me as its next president.”

She said that her goals are to build upon advocacy efforts, particularly in the fight against human trafficking, and to expand partnerships with community organizations. 

“It is my priority to maintain and expand upon NCJW’s willingness to always question the status quo,” she said, “for both the benefit of the community we serve and for our valued volunteers.”

Outgoing president Deborah Legow Schatz, who served for two years, said, “I couldn’t be prouder or more certain that I am giving the reins to a truly special woman who will move NCJW/Essex forward by leaps and bounds.”

At the event, three local women were also honored.

Ellen Barocas of Cedar Grove received the Hannah G. Solomon Award, presented to an individual who has “changed the lives of others through leadership efforts and service on a community level.” Barocas has conducted voter registration, lobbied at legislators’ offices, and was a founder of the Public Education Committee in West Orange. She has strong ties to Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, is deeply involved in the Jewish Community Housing Corporation, and is chairing the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America’s 100th anniversary celebration. 

For NCJW/Essex, Barocas created the petition to lobby the state to designate February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and she helped expand the “Politics and Pastry” and “Lunch and Learn” programs.

The Service to Section Award was given to Robin Abrams of North Caldwell in recognition of her 35 years as a volunteer. For the section, Abrams has been involved in numerous efforts, including as a member of the Art Show Steering Committee, cochair of Holocaust education, and a participant in MLK Day activities. Most recently she led several fund-raising activities, including the Special Gifts campaign, Golf Outing, House Tour, and Card Party. 

Lauren Scher of Livingston, who was given the Henrietta Weiser Emerging Leader Award, started volunteering with the section’s Mitzvah-in-a-Minute program and volunteered as an assistant and a presenter with the Teen Dating Abuse Project. She has since become vice president of volunteer outreach, with responsibility for such initiatives as Mitzvah-in-a-Minute, VolunTeens/VolunTweens, Kids Emergency Closet, Empty Bowls No More, and the Eskow Volunteer Awards. Scher will be vice president of programming for the coming year.

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