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JF&CS Blog

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August 9, 2019
Posted by Beth Soltzberg

A volunteer and a guest at a memory cafe.

JF&CS is excited to announce that our Percolator Memory Café Network just released an updated version of our Memory Café Toolkit! Memory cafés are welcoming social gatherings for people who are living with dementia and for the people who care about them. Our Memory Café Toolkit provides step-by-step instructions to help organizations launch and sustain their very own memory café.

Promoting Inclusiveness

The original Memory Café Toolkit, which was released in 2016, has been downloaded by over 700 individuals across Massachusetts, the U.S., and in several other countries. The new Toolkit adds a section about inclusiveness. It provides examples of what various Massachusetts cafés are doing to serve café guests with specific needs, such as guests with younger onset dementia, as well as guests with hearing loss or intellectual/developmental disabilities. It also discusses ways to make cafés inclusive and welcoming for people of varied linguistic/cultural backgrounds and LGTBQIA+ guests.

The new Memory Café Toolkit can be downloaded free of charge in English and in Spanish.

History of Massachusetts Memory Cafés

The memory café movement began in Holland in 1997 and has since spread all around the world. However, when JF&CS started its monthly memory café in 2014, it was only the second one in Massachusetts. Our guests wanted more – more locations and more meeting dates. So, JF&CS launched the Percolator Memory Café Network to help other organizations start their own memory café. There are now over 110 cafés in Massachusetts, in four languages – and counting!

Building Community

Memory cafés are good medicine for social isolation, one of the problems that often comes along with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. The symptoms of dementia may make it hard for people to manage the activities they used to do, and stigma and lack of awareness may cause friends to turn away. Memory cafés bring people together. Here is what some of our guests have said about the JF&CS Memory Café:

  • “I’ve made so many friends here. This is what we need – a place where we’re treated like everybody else.”
  • “Starting the day at the memory café just puts my husband in good spirits that carry through the day.”
  • “It gives me an anchor to my week – a reason to get out of the house!”
  • “It gives me a feeling of home.”
JF&CS is so proud to provide this feeling of home here in Waltham, and to help organizations around the U.S. and the world to do this for people in their community!

To find a memory café near you, check out our Directory of Memory Cafés in Massachusetts.

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August 7, 2019
Posted by JF&CS

A volunteer serving food to children in a school cafeteria.

Last school year, participants in CHAI Works-Waltham, our community-based day program for adults with disabilities, started volunteering at MetroWest Jewish Day School (MWJDS) in Framingham. 

The exciting partnership between JF&CS and MWJDS began through word of mouth. The staff at Maimonides School, another CHAI Works volunteer site, spoke highly of the support provided by the CHAI Works participants and staff and shared their experience with their friends at MWJDS, who then invited us to help them with their volunteer needs as well.

At MWJDS, CHAI Works participants prepare lunch for early elementary age students and then serve the meal to them. Throughout this process, CHAI Works participants practice skills related to kitchen safety, food prep, hygiene, customer service, and professionalism.

The MWJDS students are always excited to see our participants and give them lots of high fives. The parent volunteers at the school have mentioned on several occasions that the support from CHAI Works volunteers has made the hot lunch process go much more smoothly and has even prompted them to consider serving hot lunch more often. We're so pleased to share our skills with these students, and we can’t wait to return to MWJDS this fall!

JF&CS Day Programming and Employment Services create meaningful and fulfilling opportunities for individuals with disabilities to lead productive and integrated lives in their communities and increase their feelings of self-worth and confidence. For more information, visit us online or call 781-647-5327.

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July 30, 2019

Posted by JF&CS

JF&CS is once again participating in this year’s Ride for Food, organized by Three Squares New England. The money raised by the Family Table team will go directly to helping provide fresh fruits, veggies, and other healthy foods to more than 500 families served each month by Family Table.  

This will be the sixth year JF&CS is entering the Ride for Food to raise money for those who struggle with food insecurity. Cyclists can choose between ten, twenty-five, and fifty-mile routes. For those who prefer spinning to cycling on the road, there’s an option to participate in a spin class and still raise money for Family Table. This year, we’re looking for a team of thirty-five riders and spinners to help us reach our goal of $40,000.

The cycling routes all start and end in Dedham but will wind through different neighboring towns depending on the route length you choose. The Ride for Food takes place on Sunday, October 6, while spinners can participate in the Spin for Food on Saturday, October 5 at Rev’d in Dedham. The fundraising minimum is $350, but all riders and spinners are encouraged to set a goal of raising at least $1,250 to support Family Table. Participants who achieve that level of fundraising will receive an official 2019 Ride for Food bike jersey. Encouraging friends and family to donate to your ride will bring us another step closer to our team goal.

We also welcome all donations to support one of our riders or spinners. Whether it’s cycling, spinning, donating, or volunteering at the event, there’s a way for everyone to help provide food to those in need.

To learn more about our Ride for Food team

To support the JF&CS Family Table team with a donation

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July 26, 2019
Posted by JF&CS

A CHAI Works-South participant delivering flowers.

“We take care of our neighbors,” said Heidi Isler, the Manager of JF&CS CHAI Works-South in Canton, MA. “It’s as simple as that.” When Heidi found out about the recent fire at a housing complex for senior citizens in nearby Stoughton, she knew that the participants in our community-based day program for adults with disabilities would want to help.

According to WBZ News, a lightning strike likely sparked the July 18 fire at the Stoughton Housing Authority on Capen Street. Firefighters safely evacuated 53 people from the senior housing complex, but the building suffered extensive damage. “Some of the older adults affected by the fire lost everything,” said Heidi. “We had to do something to show our neighbors that we were thinking of them.”

Bringing Something BeautifulBeautiful flowers donated by CHAI Works-South.

On Monday, July 22, Heidi and a group of CHAI Works-South participants visited the two hotels where the displaced seniors were staying. The CHAI Works crew arrived with a bounty of colorful flowers that were donated by the Shaw’s supermarket in Cobbs Corner. “We brought flowers because we wanted those affected by the fire to have something beautiful during this difficult time,” explained Heidi. In addition to the lovely flowers, the CHAI Works-South group also donated a variety of board games, so the fire victims would have something to do during their hotel stay.

The guests and staff at the two hotels were surprised and deeply touched by these donations. A staff member at one of the hotels told the CHAI Works participants that they were heroes for their work that day. The participants took great pride in knowing that their volunteering had brightened the days of the people displaced by the fire. 

Cards created by CHAI Works-South participants.Part of the Community

Heidi is already planning more ways for CHAI Works-South to assist the older adults who lost their homes. CHAI Works participants have created cards for the seniors, and Heidi is in contact with the Stoughton Council on Aging and the Old Colony YMCA as they coordinate their response to the fire. The YMCA is spearheading an effort to collect toiletries for the displaced people, and CHAI Works has volunteered to deliver these items.

“CHAI Works-South wants to help in any way we can,” said Heidi. “We have been talking a lot with our participants about being grateful for what we have and the importance of lending a hand to those in need. CHAI Works is part of this community, and we are here to lift our neighbors up.” 

JF&CS Day Programming and Employment Services create meaningful and fulfilling opportunities for individuals with disabilities to lead productive and integrated lives in their communities and increase their feelings of self-worth and confidence. For more information, visit us online or call 781-647-5327.

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July 24, 2019

Posted by JF&CS

Steve Weil and Family

“Steve is the epitome of the word mensch. He has demonstrated this by his many years of selfless devotion to JF&CS, his unwavering commitment to our mission, and the inordinate amount of time and talent he has contributed to the agency,” said Janet Segal, Director of Bet Tzedek Legal Services.

Steven Weil was awarded this year’s Betsy Gross President’s Award in his 22nd year of collaboration with JF&CS. He began his long history with the agency when he started volunteering in 1997. In 2007, Steve was awarded the Simone Lottor award in recognition of his exceptional volunteer service. Today, Steve is the Vice President of the JF&CS Board of Directors, as well as the chair of the CEO Search Committee.  

Meredith Joy, Director of Community Services, described Steve as the kind of person who would always ask, “What can I do to help,” and continue to follow through on his question by helping in any way he could. As an attorney, his advice and counsel are essential to the Bet Tzedek Legal Services program, and he never steps away from the opportunity to take on a project. Steve has not only given his wisdom to JF&CS but has also provided his time and pro-bono services to aid others through his legal representation.

Jamie Grossman and Steve WeilSteve also participates in an array of programs and events to benefit those around him. Steve can frequently be found bringing his family along to Family Table South distributions, where he and his sons pack and deliver groceries for those who lack transportation. Steve is also a yearly participant in the Ride For Food, where he cycles to raise money for the Family Table program.

Steve’s selfless devotion to helping others and expecting nothing in return has led to the honor of receiving the President’s award and contributed greatly to his success as a board member for JF&CS. 

If you're interested in getting involved with JF&CS, please visit our Volunteer page. 

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July 18, 2019
Posted by Carl Zack

Carl Zack, his wife, and their young daughter.

Decades before serving as the Interim CEO of Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Carl Zack witnessed firsthand the transformative power of our programs when his wife became a JF&CS client. Below, you can read Carl’s remarks at the 2019 Women’s Breakfast, our annual fundraiser for the Center for Early Relationship Support®.

I am honored to be here celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Center for Early Relationship Support®, as well as CERS Director Peggy H. Kaufman and her many accomplishments. It has not only been a privilege to work alongside Peggy at JF&CS, but my wife Andrea and I treasure the difference she made in our lives. Allow me to tell everyone about it.

Andrea and I were married for 18 months when her parents died within 6 months of each other. She was 33 years old and very close to her mother. She was sad and fearful. Andrea didn’t think she could live without her mother. That’s when JF&CS entered our lives.

Andrea was pregnant with our first daughter when she began attending a JF&CS grief support group. She was not a person who had babysat or dreamed about having a baby. She felt overwhelmed and scared that she wouldn’t know what to do. That is when the group’s facilitator recommended that she speak with Peggy and consider having a volunteer visit with her on a weekly basis.

Providing Support and Strength

After Andrea met Peggy for the first time, I asked her how it went. There was a smile when she reported that Peggy understood what she was going through. She recalled that “talking with Peggy reassured and comforted me. Just like my mother would have done for me. Peggy has given me the strength to believe that I can do this.”

Our daughter Emma was born on May 4, 1992. The volunteer who visited Andrea was a perfect match. Peggy intuitively knew who Andrea needed and made it happen, just as she has done for so many other parents over her distinguished career. The Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms® program made a challenging time manageable. Getting Andrea and our daughter off to a great start was so important to us as a family.

Carl Zack with his wife and daughters.Four years later, Emma was joined by her little sister, Hannah. Because of Peggy and CERS, Andrea knew what to do when she came along.

Standing here today, I know my family is not unique. I know the tremendous impact of our work, and I am proud to share that under Peggy’s continued leadership, CERS will impact the trajectory of families for generations to come.

To learn more about all of our home and community-based services for parents and infants, visit our Center for Early Relationship Support® page.

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July 16, 2019

Posted by JF&CS

Lora Tarlin with Jeff Cotton

This year’s Lottor award was presented to Jeff Cotton, who exemplifies the values and qualities that Simone Lottor’s family wanted to showcase when they created the award in 2001. The idea behind the award was to leave a lasting memory of Simone Lottor and her exceptional volunteer work with JF&CS. Jeff’s dedication to the community made him stand out as a worthy recipient who deserved to be recognized.

Over the past five years, Jeff has been a volunteer with JF&CS Schechter Holocaust Services. He dedicates his time to help with various aspects of the program, from tasks around the office to helping clients get to and from appointments.

Jeff takes pride in writing birthday cards to Holocaust survivors. When Jeff had surgery this past year, he was so concerned that the cards would not get written without his help, that he requested them to be dropped off at his house while he recovered. Even when he had to take a month off for surgery, his passion for bettering the community never took a break. Lottor Award 2019

Two years ago, Jeff participated in Ride for the Living in Poland, where people pledged money in support of Jeff riding over sixty miles from Aushwitz to the Jewish Community Center of Krakow. Jeff is also a yearly participant on the JF&CS Ride for Food team, a cycling fundraiser organized by Three Squares New England.

Jeff’s commitment to his community and his willingness to go above and beyond has earned him the honor of receiving the Lottor award in recognition of his exceptional service.

If you're interested in getting involved with JF&CS, please visit our Volunteer page. 

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July 12, 2019
Posted by Danielle Lubin, CHAI Services Jewish Life Coordinator

Chaverim Shel Shalom participants in front of Barry's Village Deli.

It was a beautiful Sunday in June, when 20 of our Chaverim Shel Shalom (CSS) participants met at Barry's Village Deli in Waban, MA. Chaverim Shel Shalom is a Jewish social group for adults with mental health challenges. Our big group was accommodated in the small deli by sitting upstairs, overlooking the rest of the restaurant. We took up the entire upstairs room/section and sat at two large tables reserved for our group.

An Authentic Jewish Deli Experience

Participants paid $5.00 and then were able to order whatever they liked for lunch. Our table was full of traditional Jewish deli fare: Ruebens, corned beef, pastrami, knishes, latkes, pickles, kugel...even pickled tongue! We also enjoyed sipping Dr. Brown's Cherry Soda and Cel-Ray and digging into some tasty rugelach for dessert. The food and the atmosphere sparked a lot of reminiscing about favorite delis of the past, ranging from those in Mattapan and Dorchester to the famous delis of New York.

We couldn't have asked for better service. Our waiters were attentive, patient, and welcoming to our big group. They ran up and down the stairs, bringing us our orders, condiments, and drink refills. We were exhausted just watching them!

Adding New Friends to Our Community

Participants in Chaverim Shel Shalom at Barry's Village DeliWhen we first arrived, one of our participants was unable to climb the stairs to our seating area. In a true gesture of friendship and community, another participant (who didn't know the first participant) offered to sit with them and keep them company. Later on, another participant arrived and joined this pair. The three participants didn't know each other at first but left as new friends!

Speaking of new friends, there were several new participants at this event. It was really special to see how those newer participants were made to feel welcomed to the Chaverim Shel Shalom community. “Veteran” CSS members spoke about past and upcoming CSS events and made sure I included the new participants in our next newsletter.

Our lunch at Barry's Village Deli was full of delicious food, friendship, and community — a true reflection of the spirit of Chaverim Shel Shalom!

If you’re interested in attending upcoming events organized by Chaverim Shel Shalom, please email Danielle at or give her a call at 781-693-5004.

Participants in Chaverim Shel Shalom at Barry's Village Deli.

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July 9, 2019
Posted by Peggy H. Kaufman, CERS Director
The Infant-Parent Training Institute (IPTI) is excited to announce our new partnership between the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support® and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (BPSI).  BPSI provides high-level post-graduate training and education in psychoanalytic therapy and psychoanalysis and sponsors multidisciplinary programs to foster the development of highly specialized, trained, and compassionate practitioners and teachers of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy in the community, as well as programs of interest and service to the broader community. Through our new community partner relationship, CERS and BPSI intend to build connections between psychoanalysis and other disciplines that support the needs of new parents and their infants and young children. 

It is our hope that this partnership will offer enriching opportunities for both organizations, their members and trainees, including:
  • A “two-way street” in terms of educational/training programs. BPSI trainees and graduate members may want to pursue training in parent-infant work at CERS, and CERS/IPTI trainees may want to pursue psychotherapy training or psychoanalytic training.
  • A section of Infant Observation offered at BPSI starting in the Fall of 2019. The teaching of Infant Observation (IO) is an integral part of the IPTI Infant Mental Health Fellowship. Infant Observation is taught in relatively few institutes in the United States, and IPTI is the only site in New England offering the course.
  • Increased visibility of CERS and BPSI programming via the websites of each organization.
  • Volunteering opportunities for BPSI members across a variety of CERS programs.
  • Increased opportunities for BPSI members who are interested in research to partner or receive mentoring to look at outcomes of different CERS interventions.

The ties between CERS and BPSI go back to three of BPSI’s founding faculty members, Sarah Birss, Ann Epstein, and the late Judith Arons. Sarah Birss continues to teach IPTI’s Infant Observation course, and Ann Epstein is faculty in the IPTI Fellowship.

We look forward to sharing more opportunities resulting from this partnership in the coming months and years.

To learn more about all of our home and community-based services for parents and infants, visit our Center for Early Relationship Support® page.

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July 5, 2019
Posted by JF&CS

Birthday cards made by students from JCDS and GISB.

This spring, Jewish Family & Children’s Service was thrilled to host a very special group of volunteers. Seventh graders from Jewish Community Day School (JCDS) in Watertown and German International School Boston (GISB) visited our Waltham headquarters to make birthday cards for clients of our Schechter Holocaust Services program. The collaboration between the two schools was part of an ongoing partnership between JCDS and GISB that focuses on Holocaust education. 

A Unique Partnership 

The Holocaust education program between Jewish Community Day School and German International School Boston was first launched in 2017 by Andrea Silton of JCDS and Andreas Weber of GISB. When the two Middle School teachers were put in touch as part of a comparative religion course, they realized that they had a unique opportunity to explore the difficult history between Germans and Jews.

All of the students at JCDS are Jewish, and many of the students who attend GISB are from Germany, Austria, or Switzerland, or have parents with roots in these countries. Silton and Weber wanted to put together a curriculum that would bring together their students, some of whom are the great-grandchildren of Nazis and the great-grandchildren of survivors, to confront the shared legacy of the Holocaust.

Facing History Together

A chart made by students at JCDS and GISB.The interschool program between JCDS and GISB is an expertly crafted mix of cultural exchange, wrestling with the past, and applying the lessons of history to the present. Before delving into the more challenging parts of the curriculum, students from the two schools engaged in activities where they could socialize and discuss the ways in which they are similar and the ways they are different. A combined Christmas and Chanukkah celebration was a fun way for students to share their favorite holiday foods, music, and traditions.

“They really do become friends,” said Andrea Silton. “Some of the boys are on the same soccer team, and some of the girls text each other and follow each other on social media. My students are always asking when they will see the kids from GISB again.” 

In addition to more lighthearted activities, the shared curriculum does tackle the history of the Holocaust head-on. Students in both schools read and discussed the book An Orange in Winter, which tells the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of a young Jewish boy and his German friend. The middle schoolers were also visited by speakers from Facing History and Ourselves, a Brookline-based non-profit dedicated to educating students about racism, prejudice, and antisemitism.    

As part of the Facing History program, students heard from the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and a German woman whose grandparents were Nazis. Andreas Weber found it “very impressive to see how the students were listening to the speakers and their personal stories and how they were asking their questions.”    

Volunteering for Yom HaShoah 

During workshops and meetings, the students at both schools came up with the idea of doing some sort of service project together. Andrea Silton had previously visited JF&CS with a fifth grade class and realized that volunteering with our Schechter Holocaust Services program could be a meaningful way for seventh graders to observe Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day).

An inspirational drawing created by students at JCDS and GISB.Students from JCDS and GISB came to our office in Waltham and created beautiful handmade cards that will be sent to Holocaust survivors on their birthdays. When our Volunteer Services Manager, Ava Harder, explained that these birthday cards may be the only one a survivor receives, the seventh graders were keenly aware of the significance of their artwork. The students took great pride in their cards and added a “made by” credit on the back of each one they carefully crafted.

The middle schoolers also heard from Lora Tarlin, the Director of Schechter Holocaust Services, who spoke about the Yom HaShoah commemoration that had occurred the day before in Boston. The students listened with rapt attention and asked many insightful questions.  

Reflecting on his students’ volunteer experience, Andreas Weber noted that visiting JF&CS “was another important keystone” in the interschool curriculum that promotes “confronting the history of the Holocaust, beginning to move forward together, building bridges, and making the world of the future a better place.”

Andrea Silton echoed Weber’s sentiments, saying, “Two groups coming together around Yom HaShoah for something like this is a testament to the fact that we can make the world a better place. Because in 1945...who would have thought?”

If you’re interested in getting involved with Schechter Holocaust Services or one of our other programs, visit our Volunteering page.

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