By Debra Rubin/JNS.org
Click photo to download. Caption: The card for the 2013 Jewish Women International Mother’s Day Flower Project. Credit: Jewish Women International.
As the director of a shelter for victims of domestic abuse, Naomi Taffet sees a
lot of women in tears. But once a year, for Mother’s Day, she has a chance to
witness what she calls “happy tears.”
That takes place when Taffet, executive director of CHANA-Counseling, Helpline
& Aid Network for Abused Women in Baltimore, delivers a large bouquet of
Mother’s Day flowers, courtesy of Jewish Women International (JWI), to the
CHANA safe house.
Through its Mother’s Day Flower Project, which for 15 years has been sending
bouquets to shelters for battered women, JWI aims not just to brighten the day
for these women, but also to increase awareness about domestic abuse and raise
money for its yearlong activities, which include setting up and supporting
children’s libraries in battered women’s and homeless shelters, advocacy
efforts such as support for the Violence Against Women Act, and educational
More than 1 in 3 women and more than 1 in 4 men in the United States have
experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in
their lifetimes, according to the Centers for Disease Control National Intimate
Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.
“For us, every woman who buys a card and every man who buys a card and every
woman who receives a card is one more person we can bring into consciousness”
about domestic violence, Lori Weinstein, JWI’s executive director, says. “That
is an added benefit. We’ve raised the numbers of people who are engaging in
Click photo to download. Caption: An inspirational poster that accompanied Mother’s Day flowers sent to shelters for battered women in 2012 by Jewish Women International. Credit: Jewish Women International.
The flower project is a simple one. For a $25 contribution, a donor designates
her mother–or another woman of her choice–to receive a specially designed card.
While this year’s card was created in-house, Israeli and American Jewish female
artists donated their artworks for previous years’ cards, according to
Donors also have the opportunity to submit a message to be sent to the shelters.
These are included on an inspirational poster sent along with the flowers. Last
year’s poster, for example, featured a Yiddish poem, “Mother,” in translation,
in addition to such messages as “Don’t give up! I was in your shoes 20 years
ago and I never gave up. My life is great now…” and “Your courage is
For the past five years, OPI Products has been contributing makeup and toiletries
to be delivered along with the flowers, which go to 200 shelters nationwide,
the majority of them not Jewish. In addition, other groups–synagogues, Hillel
chapters, Sigma Delta Tau sorority and Moishe Houses–have signed on as partners
for the project and publicize the effort.
“I have always believed
that through color I can make a difference in the lives of
women,” Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI’s executive vice president and
a former JWI honoree, says. “Tzedakah is part of my life and who I am. Making
mothers feel good on Mothers Day is such a privilege.”