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‘Adventurous’ Florence Steiger says goodbye to the Five Towns

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Florence Steiger walked out of her Hewlett apartment building on Aug. 26 and was greeted by several board members from the National Council of Jewish Women-Peninsula Section, the organization that she has been involved with for more than 70 years.

Steiger, 96, a lifetime Five Towns resident, made the NCJW a part of her long life, and the women that are her colleagues in volunteerism and longtime friends celebrated her moving to Minneapolis to be with family that Wednesday by presenting her with a certificate that recognized her as an “enduring leader” said Section Administrator Bonnie Sperry.

The NCJW is a grassroots group of advocates and volunteers who are inspired by Jewish values to transform progressive ideals into action and strives for social justice by helping to improve the quality of life for children, families and women by protecting individual rights and freedoms. The Peninsula Section was founded in 1936. The NCJW was established in 1893, the oldest such organization in the country.

“Whatever we needed help with Florence was always there, I will miss seeing her on my right at board meetings,” Sperry said. “She is very informed on the issue we were championing and had a strong view. She has a real love for this organization.”

That fondness began for Steiger after college she said. “Probably the first organization I joined after I came back from college,” said the retired elementary school teacher. “I got involved because of the education. It became a large part of our lives and the community.”

From being a strong advocate for NCJW causes, representing the group in Albany and across the nation, attending the annual Founder’s Day lunch and the card parties, Steiger who once served as the section’s vice president, said she was “willing to share the responsibility” to do what needed to get done. She served on the board since 1982. Always the one to be taking the photographs at the NCJW activities and programs, Sperry said, for years with a camera then later with her phone.

Judi Braverman has known Steiger since 1965, as Braverman’s mother-in-law was a friend of Steiger. Six years later, Braverman joined the NCJW. “Her students loved, there was always a student coming up to her and saying, ‘You remember me?’” Braverman said. “She is always full of life. Active, involved, beloved and adventurous are the words I would use to describe her.”

Steiger with her husband, Aaron, traveled, especially through their retirement, and she continued taking trips abroad after Aaron died. Braverman recalled the 2013 Cuba trip that members of Temple Am Echad took to deliver medical supplies. “We each took 15 pounds of medical supplies, it was a long list, and there was Florence right with us and she had just come back from a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia,” Braverman said. “She is fun to be with.”

The unassuming Steiger said that she did not know what her fellow NCJW members had planned on Aug. 26. “I was so impressed, I had no idea they were planning anything,” she said. “I just enjoyed the people I worked with.”

The National Council of Jewish Women-Peninsula Section is headquartered at 342 Central Ave. in Lawrence. There is a thrift store at the same address. To become involved, call (516) 569-3660 or go to, www.ncjwpeninsula.org.