ICJA girls on March 10 spent a meaningful morning of learning together as part of the girls’ fashion show: ICJA Takes the Runway. The majority of ICJA girls participate in planning and presenting the annual fashion show, and the Yom Iyun program brought all of the girls together to focus on this year’s theme: Walk for a Cause. Each model is selecting an organization or a cause to highlight while she walks the runway.

On Monday, the girls began the program in the gym with an opening from Mrs. Marianne Novak, where she spoke about the passion Batsheva Stadlan a”h (’16) had for making others happy—whether it was through her sense of style or through her dedication to organizations like Israel’s Beit Elazraki Children’s Home in Israel. The program and the fashion show both commemorate Batsheva Chaya Stadlan a”h.Marianne encouraged the students, saying, “You have to put yourself out there because if there was no risk, people would have already done it. But if you’re on the right path, HaShem will help you.

Students then broke into small discussion groups to learn from a packet by Mrs. Friedman that brought together sources from Tanach as well as pop culture.

students study what it means to stand for something

Senior students learn together from a source sheet what it means to stand for a cause.

The second part of the program featured three panelists from the community who all work hard to support the work of local organizations that assist women. Mrs. Caryn Engel, longtime ICJA teacher and academic support staff member, spoke about her experience learning that she tested positive for the BRCA gene. She told the students, “Speaking with all of you about this is really a full circle moment for me. The first time I ever really heard about hereditary breast cancer was about 18 years ago at Ida Crown, during a presentation from the American Cancer Society.  I’ll never forget sitting in the classroom while the presenter told us all about herfamily history of breast cancer, and how there was recent discovery of a specific gene linked to the disease. Listening to her gave me pit in my stomach, because somehow I knewthat I would hear about this gene again.” With a history of family breast cancer, Caryn eventually did genetic testing for the gene and then decided to undergo preventative surgery. Today, she is a prominent member of the Myra Rubenstein Weiss Leadership Board with NorthShore University Healthcare, working to raise awareness and funds for genetic testing as well as mammography screening.

Alum Eve Reingold Kleinerman (’03) spoke to students about her work at Sharsheret, an organization she came to love after seeing her mother find support from Sharsheret. Sharsheret provides women with a breast or ovarian cancer diagnosis with peer support, social workers and a genetic counselor. The office in Chicago recently opened, and they do outreach work as well.

students study what it means to stand for something

Panelists Samantha Spolter, Shalva; Eve Kleinerman, Sharsheret; and Caryn Engle, MRW Leadership Board

Community member Samantha Spolter spoke about her work at SHALVA, which provides outreach, counseling, legal services and outreach to combat domestic abuse.

All three of these organizations are now well established and well known, but it wasn’t that long ago that discussing topics like domestic abuse and even breast health in the Orthodox community wasn’t common. The message to ICJA girls was clear: the Jewish community and the larger world needs their passion and commitment, and their potential to make a difference—whether big or small—is tremendous.