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January 23, 2020

Posted by JF&CS

Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms in a clasroom in Dnipro.

As detailed in Part I of this story, our own Debbie Whitehill and three JF&CS Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms® volunteers traveled to Dnipro, Ukraine for four days in November. The Rubin Visiting Moms conducted a training with members of Dnipro’s Mentor Moms program, which is modeled after our own Visiting Moms program.    

While meeting the Mentor Moms was the focal point of their trip, the Rubin Visiting Moms also had the chance to visit a number of organizations in Dnipro that receive support from Combined Jewish Philanthropy’s Dnipro Kehillah Project (DKP) and, in some cases, from JF&CS as well.

Touring Schools and a Medical Center

On their first day in Dnipro, Debbie Whitehill, Marlene Bohn, Suzie Cheatham, and Yvonne Sacks visited a highly ranked public school where CJP funds breakfast and lunch for the students. The majority of the students are Jewish and from low-income families. As Marlene noted, “A full stomach makes a big difference in a child’s ability to learn.”  

A boy and a teacher playing with sand in a school in Dnipro.Next, the Rubin Visiting Moms toured another school in Dnipro that provides services for children with special needs, including autism, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and hearing disabilities. CJP brought teachers from this school to Boston for a month of further education in special needs. JF&CS helped to build Dnipro’s Special Needs Education Resource Center, a groundbreaking program that provides education, family support, and specialized medical consultation services to children with special needs and their families.

At the Jewish Medical Center in Dnipro, the JF&CS delegation saw the dichotomy between the old, crumbing section of the clinic and the building’s new, modern wing. “In Dnipro, most people go without vaccines because they don’t trust vaccinations manufactured in the country,” said Marlene. “At the Jewish Medical Center, vaccines are purchased outside of the country and the director and his family get vaccinated on TV and on social media to show that they are safe.”

Beit Barcuch and a Warm House

The Rubin Visiting Moms also saw what life is like for older adults in Dnipro. The JF&CS contingent visited Beit Baruch, the only Jewish senior home in the entire Former Soviet Union. Heavily subsidized by the Greater Boston Jewish community, Beit Baruch is modeled after Hebrew SeniorLife, the Massachusetts-based senior living communities. In 2010, Marsha Frankel, the now-retired Clinical Director of JF&CS Senior Services, visited Beit Baruch to provide direct training and support to the staff to improve the quality of life for residents.

Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms at a dinner in Dnipro.Many older adults in Dnipro struggle to live on their pension of 70 - 80 dollars a month. The “Warm House” program seeks to help seniors by facilitating monthly group dinners. Volunteers host 5 to 6 other older adults in their apartments and receive a stipend from CJP to prepare a meal with their guests. The Rubin Visiting Moms attended a Warm House dinner where they met a group of retired women who had worked in a range of professions, including an engineer, an economist, and a physicist.

“The Warm House visit was moving,” shared Suzie. “The women were so warm, welcoming, and generous. Like Abraham, they shared the little they had with open hearts. It’s a program that could be of value in so many places.” Interestingly, JF&CS Aging Well at Home launched a similar Warm House program in Brookline, MA to help older adults build and strengthen connections with one another.

Although their trip was brief, members of the JF&CS contingent were deeply affected by their firsthand look at the impact of DKP programs in Dnipro. “Learning about all of the work that is being done both internally and externally for and by this small Ukranian community is incredibly touching,” said Yvonne. “I am immensely proud that my Greater Boston Jewish community is providing the money and loving care for so much in Dnipro.”


January 21, 2020

Posted by JF&CS

Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms with the Mentor Moms in Dnipro.

“Ukraine has certainly been in the news a lot these days,” said Debbie Whitehill, Director of the JF&CS Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms® program. “So, I’m thrilled that we can share some positive stories from Ukraine right now.” In November, Debbie and three Rubin Visiting Moms volunteers [Marlene Bohn, Suzie Cheatham, and Yvonne Sacks] visited Dnipro, Ukraine for four remarkable days. During the trip, the JF&CS contingent met with Dnipro’s Mentor Moms program, which is modeled after our own Rubin Visiting Moms program.  

One Jewish Community Helping Another 

The city of Dnipro on the river. The trip to Ukraine was organized as part of the Dnipro Kehillah Project (DKP), a partnership between Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Jewish community of Dnipro. Home to a Jewish population of 30,000 - 50,000, Dnipro boasts the third-largest Jewish community in Europe and the fifth-largest in the world. The DKP works to revitalize Jewish life in post-Soviet Dnipro through comprehensive assistance, including healthcare and medical training, economic advancement programs, and crisis support.

In 2017, the DKP financed an initiative to replicate the Rubin Visiting Moms program in Dnipro. Like its American counterpart, “Mentor Moms” in Dnipro matches empathetic volunteers with new parents during the first year of their baby’s life. Debbie Whitehill and the JF&CS team have provided ongoing support and encouragement over Skype to the Dnipro Mentor Moms as they grow their program.

“I was so excited when I received the invitation from Debbie to join the trip to Ukraine,” said Suzie Cheatham. “The thought of seeing how successful programs here translated to a former USSR country piqued my interest.”

Meeting the Mentor Moms

A highlight of the trip was the chance to see the Mentor Moms in person and conduct a Rubin Visiting Moms training at the local JCC and Hillel. Marlene Bohn was struck by the universality of being a parent. “We can live across the world, but the challenges of new motherhood are very similar,” said Marlene.   The Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms leading a training with the Mentor Moms of Dnipro.

Yvonne Sacks also found that the mission of the Rubin Visiting Moms/Mentor Moms transcended culture. “Being a part of the Rubin Visiting Moms delegation was special,” said Yvonne. “It was clear, despite our language differences, that our presence and the opportunity to share our experiences were appreciated.”

One of the Mentor Moms graciously invited the Rubin Visiting Moms over for dinner at her home. “It was a dinner party to remember,” said Marlene. “There was traditional Ukrainian food, music played by our friend Yacov and our host’s daughter, dancing, and great company.” After the party, the JF&CS contingent was invited to a wedding reception back at the hotel — another testament to the incredible friendliness and hospitality of the Ukrainian people.

For more from the Rubin Visiting Moms’ trip to Dnipro, stay tuned for Part II.


Samantha Walsh.jpg
January 17, 2020

Posted by JF&CS

JF&CS is excited to welcome Samantha Walsh as our new Journey to Safety TeenSafe Fellow. With a background in working with adolescents, Samantha welcomes the opportunity to give teens the language and tools they need to recognize abuse in a dating relationship. Samantha will focus on training the 2019-2020 cohort of teen leaders, bringing workshops to various community organizations and synagogues, and working to enhance awareness about Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month through the Orange4Love campaign. 

Samantha has spent most of her professional career working with teens. After graduating with her B.A. in Political Science from Allegheny College, Samantha moved from Rhode Island to Atlanta, GA to work for the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta as the BBYO Assistant Council Director. She spent three and a half years there before moving back to New England to pursue her master’s in social work from Salem State University. 

After receiving her master’s, Samantha spent time as an Intern School Adjustment Counselor and In-Home Therapy Support Clinician before turning her attention back to the Jewish Community. Since 2014, Samantha has continued to serve as the Regional Director for BBYO New England, a region within the largest, pluralistic, international Jewish youth movement. She was recently a recipient of CJP’s Chai in the Hub 2020, which recognizes twelve young adults who strive personally and professionally to better Boston’s Jewish community. 

She is excited to take on this role with JF&CS and provide teens with the skills to prevent dating violence in the Jewish community. 

For more information on how to get involved with TeenSafe, please email Samantha at swalsh@jfcsboston.org or visit us online.


January 15, 2020

Posted by JF&CS

A mother smiling with her young child.

We are proud to announce that JF&CS has received two grants from the Department of Public Health (DPH) to support mothers and families who are impacted by opioid use. These two grants were awarded as part of DPH’s FIRST (Families in Recovery SupporT) Steps Together initiative, which provides seven sites across Massachusetts with the resources and knowledge needed to make a positive change in the lives of families affected by parental opioid use disorder. One grant created a Training and Technical Assistance team at JF&CS that will support all seven sites, while the second grant recognizes and enables us to expand an existing JF&CS program that supports moms in recovery as a FIRST Steps Together site.

Tackling the Opioid Crisis

Last year, over two thousand people in Massachusetts died due to opioid use. The number of opioid-related deaths in the state is now two times higher than the national average, and Massachusetts is among the top ten states for opioid deaths. With the rising rate of opioid use, there’s a greater chance of pregnant and postpartum mothers having to juggle addiction and motherhood. Many individuals who suffer from substance use disorder don’t seek out help, whether it’s due to a lack of resources or the stigma around opioid use. 

In response to the opioid crisis, JF&CS created Project NESST® in 2011 with a grant from the Hawk Foundation to support pregnant women and mothers of young children in their recovery. Through this home visiting program, our staff focus on the intersection between recovery and parenting in order to help both the mother and child. Mothers are matched with a maternal recovery specialist, an individual in recovery herself who has received specialized training. Maternal recovery specialists are able to support mothers through their unique perspective of understanding what participants are going through. In addition to maternal recovery specialists who help through peer support, Project NESST also has clinicians who focus on the psychological issues and struggles that impact recovery and parenting. 

The FIRST Steps Together sites set themselves apart through their focus on providing peer-based intervention, which supports mothers in both aspects of their lives. There are multiple components that go into the home visiting program that allow family recovery support specialists to help with the parent-child relationship, recovery support, and care coordination for those involved. 

Sharing Resources and Best Practices 

FIRST Steps TogetherDue to our experience and success with recovery and parenting programs, JF&CS was also chosen to be the home of the new Technical and Training Assistance team of the FIRST Steps Together initiative. “One of the things that was clear was that there were a lot of other programs at JF&CS that would support this work. Having this linked to the Center for Early Relationship Support®, which runs various home visiting programs, the Infant-Parent Training Institute, and Project NESST, we felt like JF&CS really understood what was needed from a training perspective,” shared Debra Bercuvitz, Director of FIRST Steps Together at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). The Training and Technical Assistance team works with all seven direct service sites throughout Massachusetts and focuses on sharing knowledge and best practices, while also providing support for the development of each site. “The technical assistance and training means that we can really share all that we’ve been able to learn from one end of the state to the other,” said Amy Sommer, Director of Project NESST. 

What makes this program unique is how resources are shared. “One thing we’ve brought to this project that’s different from other similar projects is really finding ways for us to not just be supporting sites, but for the sites to benefit from each other’s experience and to share their challenges with others,” said Clare Grace Jones, Training/Technical Assistance Director for FIRST Steps Together. The Technical and Training Assistance team travels throughout the state to effectively support the direct service sites, in addition to utilizing an online platform that encourages sites to engage with each other. 

The collaborative focus of FIRST Steps Together is what makes the program so successful, despite the distance between sites. Each site has different experiences and hurdles, but they can share what they learn with other program managers. “It makes us part of a network. If we have questions about something we can reach out to the other sites and ask how they solved the problem, or how they would address specific challenges. It’s been really nice to have people who are doing the same work that we can reach out to and connect with,” said Amy. There’s also collaboration between DPH and the Technical and Training Assistance team. They’re able to communicate to come up with new ideas and push the program forward. “We have this incredible team that takes our vision and figures out how to implement it. We’re so lucky to have such a capable team that is making this happen on a practical level,” said Debra. “The opioid crisis is still affecting millions of people, especially parents with young children who will bear the impact of this crisis for years to come. There’s a need for this service and FIRST Steps Together funding has allowed us to expand our staff so we can serve even more parents in recovery,” said Amy. 

Being There for Mothers in Recovery

With the help of the First Steps Together initiative, mothers are being supported through their recovery without being judged. Maternal recovery specialists provide an understanding shoulder to lean on when mothers are struggling to balance their health and their family. They have the opportunity to share their feelings about parenting joys and challenges, as well as receive the encouragement they need through their recovery. 

Thanks to DPH, Project NESST can help even more moms in recovery through home visits, recovery coaching, parenting support, and connections to community-based services. With professional training and reliable support from the Technical and Training Assistance team, the FIRST Steps Together sites can make a positive impact in their communities.

Learn more about Project NESST.


A gavel in a court room.jpg
January 13, 2020

Posted by JF&CS

A gavel in a court room.

For Rosa*, the Greater Boston area was a haven from the violence that plagued her community in Central America. However, after years of living in Massachusetts, she was apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in January 2019 for overstaying her visa. Denied bail, Rosa was separated from her two young children. To make matters worse, her abusive ex-partner received temporary custody of her older child after her detainment. With the threat of deportation looming, Rosa felt utterly devastated.

A Team of Support 

Rosa was a longtime JF&CS client, so when news of her arrest spread to our office, her contacts in the agency sprang into action. “We immediately huddled,” recalled Janet Segal, the Director of our legal services program. “We had to figure out what we could do to help.”

Janet joined with Karen Garber, the Program Coordinator of our bilingual program for young children and parents impacted by trauma and mental health challenges, to devise a strategy to assist Rosa. Together with other JF&CS colleagues, they identified two areas in which they could be of service: Rosa’s custody battle and her petition for asylum.

To aid in the custody case, Janet Segal secured the help of Boston College Legal Services LAB, a community legal services office housed within Boston College Law School in Newton. Attorneys from LAB immediately filed papers in court seeking to protect Rosa’s custody interests while detained by ICE and following her release, if and when this was to occur.

The Struggle for Asylum 

Initially, JF&CS could not help Rosa on the asylum front because her family had already hired an immigration attorney on her behalf. However, after Rosa’s initial hearing, which she lost, the attorney the family had hired was no longer involved in her case.

At this point, Karen Garber made a concerted effort to get Rosa the best legal representation available. Karen reached out to her contacts at Greater Boston Legal Services, a renowned legal services organization, and urged them to take Rosa on as a client. “Karen was such a strong advocate for Rosa,” said Janet Segal. “She was relentless.”

Ultimately, one of the immigration attorneys at Greater Boston Legal Services agreed to represent Rosa. After a hard-fought battle, Rosa received a hearing and was granted asylum in June. Upon her release, Rosa was almost immediately reunited with her children.

While everyone at JF&CS is thrilled that Rosa will be able to stay in Massachusetts, Karen Garber notes that “winning the asylum case is not ‘happily ever after’ — it is the beginning of a new chapter with new challenges to overcome.” As Rosa continues to face life’s obstacles, we are confident that she has the tools she needs to persevere.

*Name changed to protect privacy.


January 10, 2020

Posted by JF&CS

We sat down with Gail Schulman, our new CEO, to learn more about her and what drew her to JF&CS.

Why did you decide to work in human services after working in high-tech for over 20 years?

It sounds corny, but I really want to make a difference in the world. I feel blessed in many ways, and I want to use my talents to improve people’s lives. At the end of the day, there is nothing more important.

What drew you to JF&CS?

JF&CS’s reach is extraordinary—where else can you help babies, older adults, people with disabilities, and those struggling with poverty all under one roof? I especially appreciate the innovation and the heart embedded in the programs. JF&CS isn’t just a social services agency; it’s a place with emotions, relationships, and soul. I do think that heart comes at least partly from JF&CS’s foundation in Jewish values, which are core to my own life. I feel inspired by the agency even at this early stage, and I hope I can inspire others as well.


Which JF&CS program, initiative, or event are you particularly excited about?

My early enthusiasm focused on Family Table and Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms® because of my own experiences—as a volunteer for Family Table, and as a recipient of support by a Rubin Visiting Mom. Now that I'm on board, I love that our CHAI Works day and employment program for adults with disabilities is right in our building, reminding us of our mission every day. In fact, every time I encounter a new program, I get a renewed jolt of inspiration.

What are you most looking forward to as CEO?

I'm looking forward to having an impact. JF&CS does life-changing work in so many areas. I’m excited to play a key role to enable that work.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

That a key part of leading is creating a forum where people trust each other and will share their ideas openly. Leaders have access to deep knowledge through employees, volunteers, recipients of services and the community, and there's truth in that age-old story that we have two ears and only one mouth for a reason. Our work at JF&CS is to make sure that we constantly listen to the needs of the community, and that our services evolve to meet those needs.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like spending time with my two eighteen-year-olds and my husband. I also like to run. I’m training for a marathon in February, so if you see me hobbling around, you’ll know why my legs are tired.

Recommend a book.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.
 

If you’re interested in getting involved with JF&CS, visit our Volunteering page!


January 8, 2020

Posted by Joe Wolke

Students at Kesher Newton hosting a bake sale for Family Table.

In addition to working as a Distribution Assistant for JF&CS Family Table, Joe Wolke teaches Jewish history and philosophy to middle school students at the Kesher Newton school. Joe’s two jobs dovetailed nicely when students at Kesher Newton launched a project to collect holiday candles for Family Table.  

The students in the Kesher Newton afterschool Hebrew program are taught from a very early age that being part of the Jewish community includes taking responsibility for those in need. The school regularly promotes projects that allow students to put this part of their education into practice. This year, the 16 middle school students of Kesher Newton have taken responsibility for leading the school’s Chesed project to provide JF&CS Family Table with Shabbat and Chanukkah candles so that every Jewish client can celebrate these holidays. This project is intended to demonstrate to the students that community needs like this can be met with the help of even the youngest students in the school.

The year-long project was dubbed “Candles for All” (נרות לכולם) by the students. In the project’s first week, the students created a logo, posters, collection boxes for every classroom, and a set of year-long fundraisers to meet their collection objectives. The first set of activities culminated with a bake sale held in conjunction with Kesher’s annual Chanukkah party. Over the two months since the project’s inception, the students of Kesher Newton collected over 100 boxes of Chanukkah candles and, through funds raised and direct contributions of candles, have already been able to provide more than five cases of the Shabbat candles that Family Table distributes as it serves nearly 500 families every month.

Lighting the WayCandles for All


The Candles for All project is designed to help Family Table in three important ways. The first objective of the project is the collection of as many candles (and the funds to purchase them) as possible for Family Table’s clients. As one of the students put it, “Every dollar we raise to buy candles frees up a dollar they [Family Table] can use to buy food.”

Second, the students have taken responsibility for repackaging the candles in bags of eight (enough for four Shabbatot) to be included in Family Table’s monthly distributions. Students also make Shabbat greeting cards that are included in each package, creating a direct connection between them and the recipients. These hands-on activities give the students a very tangible connection to the project; one they wouldn’t have if they were just raising funds.

The third, and possibly most important, objective of Candles for All is to raise awareness of the work that Family Table does in the Greater Boston area. While many of the Kesher students are already familiar with Family Table because of volunteer efforts with their families or synagogues, the middle school students still felt it was important to go class to class to talk about Family Table and encourage everyone to get involved. In the next few months, Kesher is planning to have representatives from Family Table give more detailed talks about what they do. Kesher has also scheduled talks from former recipients of Family Table so the students can get a better understanding of the vital role that Family Table plays in the community.

Looking Ahead


While everyone at Kesher is pleased with the success of Candles for All, they are not stopping here. The project will be a year-long effort with additional fundraisers and educational programs to come. Through projects like this, the students at Kesher Newton learn that the need to help others in their community never goes away. We should applaud their commitment to Chesed projects (acts of human kindness) as an ongoing part of their everyday lives.

Are you interested in supporting our food pantry? Learn how you can fundraise for Family Table!


January 7, 2020

Posted by JF&CS



JF&CS is pleased to introduce Mary Curlew, LICSW, our new Community Education and Training Specialist. In this role, Mary develops and delivers compelling presentations and trainings on mental health issues that impact older adults. Ranging in topics from social bullying, suicide prevention, brain health, and aging with optimism, these workshops are delivered in the community to older adults and professionals who work with older adults.

Mary is excited to join the JF&CS team, sharing that she has long admired the agency’s work and reputation. “When I was in my early 20s, I met an outreach worker from JF&CS through my work at a homeless shelter,” said Mary. “I remember being impressed by both her depth of knowledge and compassion.” Mary later worked with Peggy Kaufman, the director of the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support®, through Postpartum Support International and was “again, amazed by her depth of compassion and knowledge.” Mary went on to say, “Working with Kathy Burnes and the rest of the team in Services for Older Adults confirms the wonderful impression I had of JF&CS.”

Two Decades in Behavioral Health


Prior to joining JF&CS, Mary spent 20 years working in the behavioral health field, primarily in outpatient care. Her clinical experience has “progressed through the lifespan,” as she initially worked with preschool and elementary-aged children before focusing on adolescents, then adults, and finally, older adults. Mary especially enjoyed working with groups through behavioral therapies that had a teaching component and providing training, consultation, and supervision to her interdisciplinary colleagues, such as primary care physicians, doulas, nurses, and other direct care workers.

“I loved providing group therapy, education, and training not only to clients but to service providers as well,” said Mary. “So, the position of Community Education and Training Specialist at JF&CS seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that full time.”

A Great Start at JF&CS


Only a little more than four months into her new job, Mary is out in the community, leading workshops on subject matter that is important to her, both personally and professionally. “I am finding that service providers are very appreciative of the knowledge and insight that our program provides,” said Mary. “Each training is informed by my clinical experience and the wealth of information here at JF&CS.”

Mary is also developing new workshops that draw on her background in trauma and behavioral health. “I am looking to provide training for service providers in assisting trauma survivors with emotional regulation and recovery,” explained Mary. “I feel very strongly that lived experience, and the current internal and external resources people have to deal with distress, need to be more of a focus in behavioral healthcare.” Additionally, Mary sees a need for more general health and wellness training to improve the overall behavioral health of older adults.

As she plans ambitious new education initiatives, Mary feels fortunate to have support from her colleagues at JF&CS. “Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful,” said Mary. “It is wonderful to be part of such a caring and effective team.”

If you are interested in learning more about organizing a workshop with Mary, visit our Aging and Mental Health Training page.


Many Voices One Message.jpg
December 31, 2019

Posted by Elizabeth Schön Vainer, Director of JF&CS Journey to Safety



At JF&CS Journey to Safety, we imagine a society that sees, believes, and supports survivors of domestic abuse. We have a unique role to ensure that this scourge is visible through a Jewish lens in the Jewish community. Journey to Safety provides services to all abuse survivors who reach out to us for help, while providing culturally and religiously sensitive services for Jewish and Russian-speaking survivors. As we have seen firsthand, when clergy speak out against domestic abuse, it makes a world of difference in the Jewish community. This year, we are proud to announce that 118 rabbis and cantors from different Jewish denominations in Massachusetts took a stand against domestic abuse. Please take a few minutes to learn about our efforts and what you can do to help!

As part of our Many Voices, One Message campaign, Jewish clergy added their names to the following statement: “We join together in saying we will not tolerate domestic abuse in the Jewish community.” The statement appeared in the Jewish Journal and Jewish Advocate and will be featured in the Jewish Ledger in January. The campaign is a joint effort of the Jewish Domestic Violence Coalition, JF&CS Journey to Safety, and Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence.

Tied to Jewish Tradition


Each year, we publish the Many Voices, One Message campaign close to Chanukkah. We chose this time of year specifically to connect Chanukkah’s brightly lit menorahs with the campaign’s goal of bringing light and hope to dark spaces and connecting with survivors of abuse, who are often isolated and alone.

This year’s initiative took on an extra dimension of meaning as well. In Jewish tradition, the number 18 represents life. It seems especially fitting that the campaign was endorsed by exactly 118 rabbis and cantors, underscoring the idea that everyone should be free to live their lives safely and without fear that their spouse or partner will deliberately harm them physically, emotionally, financially, sexually, or spiritually.

Spreading the Message


With this year’s statement finalized, the real work is just beginning. Our goal is for Jewish survivors of domestic abuse around the state to see this statement, feel less invisible, hear the message that people in their community – including so many Jewish clergy – support them, and then hopefully reach out for help. Please help us circulate this statement by liking and sharing it on social media; printing and hanging it in Jewish spaces; and finding other ways to publicize it in newsletters, bulletins, and other print communications.

Finally, we know that we were not able to reach every Jewish clergy member in Massachusetts. If you know a clergy member who signed this statement, please thank them for their support. If you know a rabbi or cantor whose name does not appear this year, please ask them to look for the invitation to sign on to the 2020 initiative next fall.

Many thanks to all the rabbis and cantors who signed on to this year’s campaign and to all of you for helping us circulate and promote this important outreach initiative. We wish everyone a happy, healthy new year!

Additional thanks to New Jersey’s Project S.A.R.A.H., which gave us permission to adapt their campaign for use in Massachusetts and to The Miriam Fund, which provided funding for this campaign during its inaugural year.


December 26, 2019

Posted by JF&CS

For Barbara Wasserman and Andrew Pearlstein, philanthropy felt like the missing link needed to complete their family. "We had a realization years ago that we had worked hard and raised our family, but the one thing we hadn't done enough of was give back," said Andrew. "We've really stepped up our involvement, commitment, and philanthropy the past six years."

With three grown children, Barbara and Andrew found themselves with more time to dedicate to causes they feel passionate about. Barbara and Andrew were first introduced to JF&CS through friends who recognized how their skills could benefit the agency. Barbara served on committees, attended our annual Women’s Breakfast fundraiser, and volunteered to provide supervision to graduate students working towards their social work license at JF&CS. Andrew served on multiple committees and was eventually nominated to the Board of Directors. Now, Andrew is president-elect of the Board.

After getting involved and seeing first-hand what JF&CS accomplishes, they felt a connection to the agency that inspired them to make a legacy gift. They saw just how many services JF&CS provides that can help individuals and families throughout their lifetime. “There are so many needs that JF&CS addresses. When you work with the agency, you have the opportunity to make a direct impact,” shared Barbara.

By naming JF&CS as a beneficiary of their Donor Advised Fund, Barbara and Andrew further strengthened their commitment to JF&CS by making a contribution that will allow us to continue building a foundation of well-being and resilience in the future. “By making a planned gift, we’re making a statement that says the work JF&CS does matters and we’d like it to be available to all in the community,” said Andrew. “Once one becomes connected to an organization, the philanthropy follows naturally. JF&CS makes you want to take part in volunteering as well as giving back.”

Barbara and Andrew consider philanthropy to be part of their Jewish values. “Growing up, it felt like it was an obligation to be philanthropic, but it goes further than that today,” said Andrew. “We want to be a model for our kids. They’re growing up and making their own decisions. It’s not about whether or not they want to give back, it’s about how they want to give back,” said Barbara.

Joining the Tree of Life Society is their way of leaving their mark on a cause they care so much about. “At this stage in our lives, we’ve been around long enough to have worked hard and learned a lot, and now it’s time to leave an impact through our giving,” said Barbara.

“Making a planned gift isn’t difficult or high pressure at all. It’s our way of showing our connection to the cause, and it helped that the process was so easy,” said Andrew. By joining the Tree of Life Society, Barbara and Andrew are helping the future of JF&CS and everyone who comes to us in need. “We’re expressing our commitment to JF&CS by making sure that it continues its work and remains a healthy organization going forward,” said Andrew.

If you would like to learn more about the Tree of Life Society, contact Jill Snider at jsnider@jfcsboston.org or 781-693-5059.


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