NCJW head gets serious about reproductive rights

The Phyllis Snyder of 1972 never would have dreamed she’d be advocating for accessible contraception more than 30 years later.

And yet that’s exactly what she’s doing as the president of the National Council of Jewish Women.

“I cannot believe we’re still fighting this, and that our daughters are fighting it too,” she said. “The fact that contraception is controversial is beyond belief.”

Snyder, who recently visited Bay Area chapters of NCJW, spoke candidly about why women of all ages should care about access to family planning, and what they could do to support the issue.

Answer: Plan A.

“It’s NCJW’s new Campaign for Contraceptive Access, and it’s not about abortion or viability or when life begins,” she said.

Rather, she said, it’s focused on education and advocacy initiatives at the local, state and national levels. Snyder launched the campaign in June, and since then, she’s traveled around the country motivating Jewish women to take action — so that women of all ages and income levels can fill a prescription, buy emergency contraception and receive medically accurate information to make healthy decisions.

At a summer luncheon in Daly City, Snyder asked members of NCJW if they were signed up to receive the organization’s “action alerts,” which are sent via email, and are the key to spreading information about Plan A.

Fewer than half of the 50 women in attendance raised their hands.

Snyder tried a different tact.

“How many of you have granddaughters?” she asked, and nearly all hands went up. “Ask her to go to our Web site and sign up for the action alerts. Have her read them to you. Why should you do this? Because your granddaughter is going to call you almost every week! She will have interesting things to say. And she’s going to think her grandma is the smartest woman ever.”

The women in attendance liked Snyder’s strong opinions, and some said it galvanized the organization and reminded them why they continue to donate and belong.

“Organizations have to have a goal, not just talk about serving tuna fish for lunch,” said Vera Stein of San Francisco.

Following Snyder’s speech two women were recognized: Helen Miller, who was named woman of the year for her work producing educational drama programs for Bay Area school children, and Tanette Goldberg, who was recognized for her leadership and volunteer efforts with NCJW, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Friends of the Jewish Community Library and Congregation Emanu-El.

Local NCJW helps fight human trafficking

Members of the National Council of Jewish Women in San Francisco have partnered with several nonprofit women’s organizations to help end human trafficking. Phyllis Snyder, NCJW president, learned about the partnership during her recent visit to the Bay Area.

Gloria Tan, director of the Gum Moon Women’s Residence/Asian Women’s Resource Center, said trafficked victims are mostly young women from Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia and South Korea. They are lured to the United States with false promises of freedom and are forced into a servant or slave role instead.

Even if they have the courage and chutzpah to escape, they have no money, no social support network and limited English.

“It takes a whole village to nurture these women,” Tan said. “But it’s hard to make promises to these women when we don’t know what to expect for the coming fiscal year.”

Tan is grateful for NCJW’s support — financial and otherwise. Earlier this year, NCJW members made welcome kits packed with soap, shampoo, clothing and other necessities for the victims. NCJW and Gum Moon also plan to collaborate to teach basic cooking skills to women in the shelter.

Snyder was impressed by what Moon had to say, and was pleased that the San Francisco section was helping to support their cause. “Trafficking has the potential to become a national issue for NCJW,” she said.

Stacey Palevsky

Stacey Palevsky is a former J. staff writer.