Rutgers Hillel Russian-Jewish Club Supports a Local Emergency Shelter for Women

By Jonathan Levin ’13

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMarch 8 (восьмо́е ма́рта; pronounced phonetically: vosmoye marta) marks an important holiday in the Russian-Jewish community: International Women’s Day (Междунаро́дный же́нский день; pronounced phonetically: meshdoonarodnyi shenski dyen). Throughout the Former Soviet Union, women were celebrated with yellow mimosas, chocolates, and admiration for their contributions to the state and family. What made the holiday so distinct is that it celebrated every woman in the U.S.S.R., not only those who were mothers. While the communist regime may have fallen in 1991, F.S.U. citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, still hold the occasion dear to their hearts.

Realizing the importance of the holiday and the need to promote it on campus, the Russian-Jewish Club executive board conceived to host an International Women’s Day function. Celebrating the elegance of womanhood is something everyone could and should do. It is this mantra that motivated us to push forward past making the holiday just an excuse for a social event. We quickly realized that with this platform we had the opportunity to not only raise awareness of the holiday but also to use it for a greater cause.

I had personally remembered that the current Vice President of Rutgers Hillel, Aviva Rosenberg, informed me of her work with a domestic violence shelter near the New Brunswick campus called Women Aware. Interested, I took it upon myself to research it. I quickly found that Women Aware is a non-profit that has been operating to serve the MiddlesexCounty community for over 30 years. Dedicated to helping victims who find it difficult to help themselves, Women Aware was exactly the kind of charity I wanted to align the Russian-Jewish Club with. The idea of supporting women is what International Women’s Day is all about and what better way to do just that than through donating to such an amazing philanthropic organization.

On Saturday, March 9, thus, the Russian-Jewish Club put together its first International Women’s Day Charity Fundraiser. Co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Social Work Organization, funded by RUSA Allocations, and gifted with giveaways from the Zimmerli Art Museum, the event captured the spirit of the Soviet tradition. As yellow carnations and pins that read “I AM LOVED” in Russian were handed out, attendees entered a space with colorful streamers dancing in the air and lilac tables covered with rose petals and confetti. Later in the evening, Lizette Nieves, an employee of Women Aware, gave a concise, yet impactful, speech on how the contributions of our students will help continue initiatives such as the organization’s hotline service, which has answered over 12,000 calls in the past year. Having raised $230 for Women Aware, the Russian-Jewish Club and its esteemed guests celebrated the beauty of the women in all of our lives with music, dance, and charitable hearts.