NCJW’s Healing Hearts Bank; NAMI honors Chaleff and Rosenbaum

National Council of Jewish Women – St. Louis Section Project Chair Marilyn Ratkin (left) and NCJW Executive Director Ellen Alper (right) present the first check from NCJW’s Healing Hearts Bank to Lisa Moseley, Program Director at Lydia’s House, for one of the organization’s clients. 

By Lois Caplan

SINCE 1945 WHEN I WAS INVITED to serve on the Board of the National Council of Jewish Women, St. Louis Section, I have watched the progress and activities of the organization.  Now, almost 70 years later, NCJW has developed a great program especially suited for women in need in this 21st century.  Called the Healing Hearts Bank, it focuses on the intersection of domestic violence and a woman’s financial well being by improving the economic status of women.      

In September 2011, with a grant from the Incarnate Word Foundation, NCJW opened its first Healing Hearts Bank, a micro-lending program for women with an emphasis on survivors of intimate partner violence. The mission of the bank is to build a community of women assisting women through connection to assets not normally available. Through these loans, the Healing Hearts Bank makes an investment in the women of this community and expects the return to include bonding and empowerment of its members, knowledge of business development and increased self-sufficiency.

Currently there are three banks, each serving victims of intimate partner violence.  Loans up to $500 provide women access to funds to aid in furthering their financial independence. Funds may be used for items such as, but not limited to, car payments, transportation, work-related clothing and education. According to NCJW Project Chair Marilyn Ratkin, a fourth bank is in the early planning stages. By the way, it takes $5,000 to open a new branch of the bank, either in one sum from a generous donor or from many of you, each making a modest contribution.

I have always had some crazy kind of dream of being a banker, so now I could be one for the Healing Hearts Bank.  You, too, may become a volunteer banker; volunteers are needed as the program expands. Marilyn explained that the responsibilities include reviewing loan applications and serving as a resource for program policy. The time commitment is modest – it include a monthly client meeting, an hour in length, plus Banker Advisory meetings two to three times a year. One-time training also is provided. I am assured that a financial background is not required but a passion for empowering women to move from financial dependence to independence is important.

For more information, to volunteer or to contribute to the Healing Heart Bank, contact NCJW Program Director Nancy Weigley at [email protected] or at 314-993-5181.

MADCO (MODERN AMERICAN DANCE COMPANY) is St. Louis’ own outstanding dance company. Making its home at the Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri St. Louis, MADCO opens its 2013-2014 season there with “Uprising” at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15 and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17. “Uprising” includes a dance piece inspired by Olympic track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee who has described modern dance as the perfect artistic medium to represent athleticism due to its combination of power and grace. Rounding out the program is “Land’s Edge” by Philobolus, commissioned for MADCO by Dance St. Louis as well as three world premieres by choreographers Mikey Thomas, Lindsay Hawkins and St. Louisan James Robey.

Each evening features discussions that begin 50 minutes prior to the concert and post show receptions are free to ticket holders.  Tickets, at $25, are on sale at the Touhill Performing Arts Center Ticket Office, online at or by phone at 314 516-4949.

THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE PREMIERE of Theatre Tout a Trac’s “Pinocchio” will debut this weekend in COCA’s Founder Theatre, 524 Trinity Avenue. Pinocchio, to refresh your memory, is the story of a boy, born out of a piece of talking wood, who discovers the meaning of growing up through a thousand trials. To become a “real” boy, Pinocchio has to face the terrible Puppet Theatre Director, suffer the malice of Mr. Fox and the Cat, escape from Toyland and save his father from the belly of the giant fish. Pinocchio is recommended for ages 5 to 12 but I don’t think that any of us is too old for this magical puppet show. It will be presented Saturday, Nov. 16 at 2 and 5 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 17 at 1 and 4 p.m. Tickets, at $16-$20, are available online at or by phone at 314-561-4877.

SANDA ROSENBLUM, my friend who is Director of Public Relations for the JDRF (Formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) asked me to alert you to the color blue, which is the color to flaunt during the month of November. Should you see some buildings lighted blue it is in support of juvenile diabetics. World Diabetes Day, FYI, is Nov. 14, the day that Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin, was born (he died in 1941). 

NAMI St. Louis, a part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will hold its gala fundraiser, “Celebrating Beautiful Minds,” from 6-10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23 at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac (at Lindbergh Boulevard and  Clayton Road). The event will honor several “mental health heroes,” including two from the Jewish community: Arlen Chaleff (a past president of the group) and Ellen Fein Rosenbaum. For more information on reservations for “Celebrating Beautiful Minds” or NAMI St. Louis programs, go to or call 314-966-4670.