TEANECK, NJ (October 10, 2023) -Sheila Katz, the CEO of National Council of Jewish Women, the parent organization of National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County Section (NCJW BCS), spoke at the United Nations (UN) on Thursday, September 14, in solidarity with the women of Iran as the one year anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s murder approached. The theme of her speech reigns true to NCJW values and NCJW BCS values - Women, Life, and Freedom.
Masha Amini was a 22-year-old woman arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly not wearing a hijab. Hours after her arrest, she suffered a heart attack, went into a coma, and died three days later of what the government ruled, natural causes. The Iranian government’s story was contradicted by numerous witnesses who claim they saw Amini brutally beaten by the police, along with medical scans indicating head trauma, both of which the Iranian government consistently denied. The mysterious circumstances surrounding Amini's death and Iran’s history of human rights violations led many to believe Amini actually died due to police brutality. Widespread protests condemning the murder ensued across Iran and gained support internationally; despite this, the Iranian government continues to deny any wrongdoing and has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of protesters.
In her impassioned speech before the UN, Katz spoke of the importance of speaking out against injustice. “We must not stay silent. We must not look the other way. We must not and cannot allow murdering women for noncompliance with extreme laws to be normalized. Not now. Not ever. Normalization justifies and furthers oppression,” said Katz.
Katz concluded her speech by having Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein blow a shofar, to serve as a reminder to “not to accept a broken world and a warning not to look the other way when people need us.”
National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County Section locally defends women's rights and tirelessly works to safeguard individual rights and freedoms. To learn more about National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County Section and upcoming events visit https://www.ncjwbcs.org/index.html#.
About National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County Section:
Celebrating its 100th anniversary, National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County Section (NCJW BCS) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW BCS strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.
About Sheila Katz:
Sheila Katz is the CEO of National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), a 130-year-old Jewish feminist civil rights organization with over 210,000 advocates working for the full equity and safety of women, children, and families in the United States and Israel.
Through meaningful education, strategic advocacy and partnering with 50 local NCJW sections in direct service, Sheila works to empower Jewish women and allies to engage in work that impacts those at the margins of society while centering the most impacted through partnerships and coalitions. Under Sheila’s leadership, NCJW has responded to threats to abortion access, voting rights, childcare access, equal pay, and other issues of equity through protest, advocacy and new campaigns making it clear where Jewish women and allies stand on the most important issues of the day.
Sheila spearheaded the creation of Jews for Abortion Access, engaging more than 2.5 million people taking action. She also launched Rabbis for Repro, a network of more than 2,500 rabbis across every denomination teaching about reproductive freedom and Judaism.
Prior to NCJW, Sheila was the vice president of student engagement and leadership at Hillel International, the largest Jewish on-campus community in the world. In her 12 years at Hillel, she founded programs to expand student participation in Jewish and civic life including Ask Big Questions, an award-winning national initiative to guide diverse students in meaningful conversations, and MitzVote, Hillel’s successful non-partisan civic engagement campaign. Sheila was recently named as one of the top 10 faith influencers by Religion News Service and as one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post. In 2022, Sheila was the commencement speaker for her alma mater Ithaca College. She currently sits on the board of governors of Tel Aviv University.