Feature, Local News

Local NCJW section honors Gloria Lippert for embodying ideals of founder Hannah Solomon

When Debra Borodkin presented the Hannah G. Solomon Award to Gloria Lippert of Flossmoor on Tuesday evening, Aug. 1, she noted how rare the honor is.

“Gloria, you are the ultimate volunteer. This is the highest honor the National Council of Jewish Women offers,” she said. “As you know, you are only the fifth person to receive this from our combined sections of Lincolnway and South Cook over a more than 100-year span, so it is not given lightly. We’re all so fortunate to work with you and always witness your enthusiasm.”

Gloria Lippert of Flossmoor gestures to a friend during her remarks after being awarded the Hannah G. Solomon Award on Tuesday, Aug. 1. (Eric Crump photos/H-F Chronicle)

The award is named for the woman who founded NCJW in Chicago in 1893. Solomon was an activist who championed the rights and welfare of women, children and families. She worked with Jane Addams and Susan B. Anthony on efforts for social and political reform.

In her remarks upon accepting the award, Lippert cited the influence of both her parents in shaping her sense of mission.

“Throughout my growing up, my father reminded me no matter how much or how little I had, I must give back,” she said. “It was like a mantra.”

From her mother, she learned the power of choice when her mother told her she would not pressure her daughter to have children.

“She said, ‘If you choose never to have children, I will be just as proud and happy with you,'” Lippert said. “How many parents in the ’60s would say that to a child? Not too many.” 

But Lippert did want children and had three daughters, two by adoption. 

She described her personal evolution on issues of reproductive rights, becoming a passionate advocate for women’s right to choose their own path. And she credited NCJW for giving her a platform for pursuing that mission and for helping people in many other ways.

“This organization became the focus of my energy and advocacy,” she said, noting that about 15 years ago, she began hosting events around Jan. 22, the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that legalized abortion for the next 50 years. “NCJW has been a champion for reproductive choice and justice. I have found that if I attempted to fight any battle alone my voice is lost in a sea of chattter. As a part of NCJW my voice becomes enhanced, magnified and powerful. All of us together, we accomplish much.”

In her four decades with the organization, Lippert has served various leadership roles, including president of the South Cook Section. In addition to her work defending reproductive rights, she has been a key member of the annual Flossmoor Garden Walk fundraiser. She previously won the Special Volunteer Award and the Iris Dreyfuss Award. 

“I am privileged to be a part of this incredible organization,” Lippert said. “NCJW has given me time for personal growth. It has allowed so many opportunities for me to develop leadership and organizational skills. I continue to be given the space to fulfill my father’s mandate that I must give back.”

Congresswoman Robin Kelly congratulates her friend, Gloria Lippert of Flossmoor, for receiving the Hannah G. Solomon Award at Idlewild Country Club on Aug. 1.

Lippert received standing ovations after accepting the award and after her remarks from a crowd that current NCJW South Cook Section President Sharon Johnson said appeared to be the largest gathering the local organization ever had.

Johnson also noted, during her introduction, that three of the four previous winners of the Solomon Award were present, including Anne Oppenheimer, 1990; Julia Ziev, 2008; and Ellen Kahn, 1979, as part of the former Lincolnway Section, which later merged with South Cook. She said the late Diane Kessler, who won the award in 1981, “is with us in spirit.”

Following Lippert’s remarks, Beth Lichtenberg introduced the keynote speaker, Congresswoman Robin Kelly, D-Il.

“I want to congratulate my friend, Gloria Lippert, for this much deserved honor,” Kelly said. “I want to personally take this opportunity to say thank you, Gloria, for your tireless effort, your kindness and your commitment to making a positive impact just like your dad told you to do.” 

Kelly recalled helping start South Suburban Diversity Dinners, an annual event that brought together people from different backgrounds, and said she could always count on Lippert to serve as host.

“Gloria was always the first to volunteer her home for these gatherings,” she said. “In this, she is truly the embodiment of Jewish values. There is a lot of talk about faith in the capitol but action on that faith is often harder to come by. Not with Gloria.

“She never passes up an opportunity to help someone in need, and Gloria never shies away from a challenge. Her care for the future and dedication to building a better world for the next generation sets an incredible example for those who will follow in her footsteps.”

Part of a poster celebrating Gloria Lippert’s contributions to the National Council of Jewish Women South Cook Section over her four decades of service.

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