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|Message From Our President|
On the day when Minnie Louis first opened the doors to the Louis Downtown Sabbath School in 1880, she could scarcely have imagined the generations of women who would be impacted by her vision and legacy. Louis’s focus on ameliorating the challenges faced by immigrant women and her belief that women’s prospects would be improved through education persist to this day and have been incorporated into the mission of what is now the Jewish Foundation for Education of Women.
The Foundation that replaced and grew out of the Sabbath school, later “Hebrew Tech”, has been fortunate to be able to award academic scholarships based on need and promise to women seeking a college degree. The first awards were made to Jewish women from low-income families; by the 1960s, they included women of diverse religious, racial and ethnic identities as well. The recipients then, as now, shared the ambition to earn a college degree, but were without the financial resources to enroll. With assistance from JFEW, they not only gained access to a quality education but also gained confidence that they could reframe their futures and achieve economic mobility and stability.
Many of you reading this page may be first in your own families to attend college, or part of family units that left their countries of origin because of conflict or economic privation. I, too, am from an immigrant family, where a college education seemed imperative, while the path to that goal involved considerable sacrifice and assistance. JFEW’s mission and vision affirm the right of all women to earn a college degree and achieve the life changes that can come with it.
JFEW partners with some of New York’s most important educational institutions and community-based organizations to identify new cohorts of aspiring women looking for an educational foothold. We promote empowerment not only through scholarships, but by enhancing JFEW Scholars’ education with paid internships, mentoring and professional development seminars. In addition, we are exploring innovative ways to advocate for, and positively impact, JFEW scholars and women in the general college population through collaborations with premier research institutions.
As my tenure as President begins, our new Executive Director, Rona Sheramy, has already taken over the Foundation’s core work with enthusiasm and passion. It is a privilege to be working with such a dedicated staff and a skilled, accomplished board of directors and an honor to help our inspiring scholars, who advance our mission by turning their goals into reality and move us closer to a more just society.
Reeva Mager, President