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JF&CS Blog


JF&CS Blog

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April 4, 2019
Carl Zack, Governor Baker, Lauren Baker, and the Creem and Simes families at the JF&CS Benefit 2019.

On Wednesday, April 3, 2019, Jewish Family & Children's Service gathered for an evening of celebration and support at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. JF&CS raised more than $700,000 to sustain the critical work of our programs. 

The Honorable Charlie Baker and Lauren Baker joined us again this year. The Governor's heartfelt remarks included his thoughts on JF&CS's impact on the Commonwealth. "The strength and the power of the JF&CS commitment are truly special -- the compassion and empathy that this community brings to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are incredibly powerful. We really appreciate all of the work that you do, and all of the effort that you make to create a better Commonwealth. You are truly a great treasure," he said.

Guests enjoyed a spirited reception-style evening featuring a memorable and inspiring program that underscored the myriad ways we are all part of the JF&CS community. As volunteers, program participants, clients, donors, and event guests, we are all treasured members of the JF&CS family.

Our programs have continued to strengthen, and we collaborate both internally and with our partner agencies to make a difference in the lives of the families we serve. 

Event support is just a portion of the resources needed to propel our mission forward. We thank you for all you have done to help us make a significant difference in the lives of those we serve.

Below, you can watch a moving video featuring our clients, staff members, and collaborators that premiered at the Benefit:   

To see photos from the event, check out our Facebook album

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April 1, 2019
Posted by JF&CS

A mother and her baby with a CERS staff member.

The Center for Early Relationship Support® (CERS) is turning 30 years old, and we want you to join in the celebration!

JF&CS is collecting stories from the thousands of people who have been touched by CERS over the past three decades, including our program participants, volunteers, and donors. If CERS has made an impact on your life, we want to hear from you.

The personal narratives collected will be included in a 30th Anniversary Commemorative Book, which will be given to guests at the Women's Breakfast, benefiting CERS. Stories may also appear on the JF&CS website and blog.

To share your CERS story, please fill out this form.

Join Us at the Annual Women's Breakfast

We invite you to attend the Women’s Breakfast on Thursday, May 30, 2019! Held at the beautiful Boston Marriott Newton Hotel, the breakfast will celebrate 30 years of enhancing the earliest parent-child relationships and recognize the work of CERS Director Peggy H. Kaufman.

To purchase tickets and find out more information, please visit our Women’s Breakfast page.

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March 29, 2019
Posted by Steve Weil, JF&CS Board Vice President

CEO Search Update
I am pleased to announce that we have chosen Isaacson, Miller, a nationally known, Boston-based search firm to aid us with our search for a new JF&CS Chief Executive Officer.

Since early February, a Search Firm Selection Committee composed of Board President Jamie Grossman, Vice President Andrew Pearlstein, and me, has been identifying and interviewing search firms with the requisite credentials to perform the search. Wendy Wilsker, Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement, and Carl Zack, Interim CEO, served as valuable staff to our committee. We interviewed four firms and ultimately selected Isaacson, Miller because of its long-standing reputation for conducting successful searches on behalf of numerous local Jewish communal organizations, as well as academic medical centers and human service organizations.

I am also pleased to announce that we have assembled a Search Committee that will begin its work soon. The members are:

  • Jamie Grossman, Board President
  • Andrew Pearlstein, Vice President
  • Steve Weil, Vice President
  • Alexandra Simes, Board member
  • Shari Cashman, Board member
  • Mark Belsky, former JF&CS Board member and long-time supporter of the agency
  • Neil Wallack, former Chair, Combined Jewish Philanthropies Board of Directors
We expect Isaacson, Miller to begin its work by mid-March. Initially, Isaacson, Miller will spend several days in a "discovery" phase at JF&CS's offices interviewing staff, Board members, and other constituencies, to better understand our culture and the qualifications and expectations we have for a new CEO. Isaacson, Miller will then prepare a "Position Description," find qualified candidates, and help us screen and interview them. The entire process is expected to take approximately six months. We will keep you informed as the search unfolds.

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March 26, 2019

Posted by JF&CS

A calculator, pen, and sheet.

Looking for a great way to make a tax-free gift to Jewish Family & Children’s Service? Consider an IRA charitable rollover.

Although the new tax reform act may limit the benefit of income tax charitable deductions for some people, donors can still make gifts to JF&CS and receive tax benefits using the IRA charitable rollover.

If you are 70½ or older, you can tell your IRA administrator to transfer your gift directly from your IRA account to JF&CS. You can make a gift of up to $100,000 to satisfy the required minimum distribution from your IRA.

You don’t get an income tax charitable deduction for the gift, but you don’t pay taxes on your IRA withdrawal, and the gift is not taxed as income.

If you are interested in making such a gift or would like more information, please call our Office of Gift Planning at 781-693-5059 or email Liz Cahn, our Senior Philanthropic Advisor, at

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March 21, 2019
Posted by JF&CS

A Passover Seder plate with all of the traditional items.

We are excited to announce that JF&CS Schechter Holocaust Services will host its first Passover Seder on the North Shore for our Café Hakalah participants this April. Café Hakalah is a monthly gathering for Holocaust survivors that typically includes music, food, and discussion.

The idea to host a Café Hakalah Seder originated last December, when we had such a phenomenal turnout at our Café Hakalah Chanukkah Celebration. Inspired by the enthusiasm for the event, Inna Lyubimova, the North Shore Café Hakalah Coordinator, started talking with volunteers about planning a Passover event for the spring.

The Café Hakalah Seder will be held at the JCC of the North Shore on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 from 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. The JCC is located at 4 Community Road, Marblehead, MA. Since Passover does not officially begin until the following week, we will be hosting a “mock Seder” with a light lunch.

Rabbi David Cohen-Henriquez of Temple Sinai in Marblehead will lead the Seder. Originally from Panama, Rabbi David brings a multicultural and multi-denominational approach to Judaism.

Guests at the Seder will read from special Haggadot that are written in English, Hebrew, and Russian. These trilingual Haggadot were compiled especially for JF&CS for our Friendly Visitor Program, which hosts its own Passover Seder.

Schechter Holocaust Services Director Lora Tarlin is expecting around 50 Holocaust survivors to attend the Café Hakalah Seder. Tarlin noted, “Having the chance to observe Passover is especially meaningful for survivors who lived in the former Soviet Union, where people were deprived of their Jewish heritage.” She added, “The story of Passover, which is about liberation from oppression, is particularly resonant for the survivor community.”

If you are interested in volunteering at the Café Hakalah Seder (or future Café Hakalah events), please fill out our Volunteer Registration Form. Survivors who would like to attend the Seder should call Inna Lyubimova at 781-693-5680 to RSVP. Please let Inna know if you will need transportation to the event. 

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March 18, 2019
Posted by JF&CS 

Alexandra Simes, a co-chair for the 2019 JFCS Benefit.

We sat down with Alexandra Simes, one of our co-chairs for the 2019 JF&CS Benefit, to learn more about her and her connection to JF&CS.

Tell us about your involvement with JF&CS.

My involvement with JF&CS began years ago when I volunteered at Family Table as part of a Combined Jewish Philanthropies committee I was on. I found it a meaningful and rewarding experience, and my older kids, who were elementary school age at the time, found it eye-opening. They were very proud that they could help make a difference. 

About 4 years ago, I joined the Advisory Committee for the Center for Basic Needs Assistance, and I have learned about the amazing work that JF&CS is doing to help people in emergency situations and during difficult periods in their lives when they need help paying their rent, paying an electric bill, or obtaining groceries. The Center for Basic Needs Assistance jumps into action to help create a plan for these families to get through these rough patches with dignity and provides the resources needed to help alleviate some of their stress.

Tell us about your family.

Our family consists of me; my husband Jody; our daughter Jenna, who is a Junior at Gann Academy; our son Daniel, who is a Freshman at Gann; and our youngest son Jack, who is a 5th grader at The Rashi School.

What is your favorite JF&CS memory?

My favorite JF&CS memory is when my three children and I were delivering groceries for Family Table in Brighton. We dropped off the bags to an elderly Russian woman who was very appreciative. We said our goodbyes and then went on our way. A few seconds later, the door to the woman’s apartment opened, and she yelled out to us to come back. She handed my youngest, who was about 7 at the time, an orange as a gesture of thanks. My son held on to that orange for the rest of the day, so proud and so touched by the woman’s gift. He couldn’t believe that she would give up her own food as a way to thank us. He was glowing with pride!

Recommend a book.

A book that I recently read that I loved was Michelle Obama’s new memoir, Becoming. In my opinion, Michelle Obama finds the perfect tone of self-reflection, humor, and inspiration. After seeing the world and living in the White House for 8 years and mingling with heads of state, she is incredibly down-to-earth and thoughtful. She writes so beautifully, with profound insight and from the heart. 

What is your favorite travel destination?

My favorite destination to travel to is the Amalfi Coast, specifically Positano. There is nothing like the gorgeous blue water framed by the colorful Mediterranean homes built into the mountainside covered in bougainvillea. Such a magical place!

What are you most looking forward to about this year’s Benefit?

I am looking forward to having the Benefit at the Fairmont Copley Plaza for the first time and the new cocktail-style format of this year’s Benefit. I think it will give guests the opportunity to socialize more freely with their friends, as well as enjoy a really well-orchestrated, short program that highlights the amazing work of JF&CS.

Join Alexandra and many others at this year’s JF&CS Benefit on Wednesday, April 3 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. Visit our Benefit page to purchase tickets and learn more.

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March 13, 2019
Posted by Deb Shrier

A happy baby and his mother.

As anyone who has been through the process can tell you, building your family through adoption takes a lot of preparation. Most people are aware of home studies, in which pre-adoptive parents undergo a series of assessment meetings with a social worker. Another, less-well-known part of the overall adoption process centers on education. A recent change in Massachusetts law requires that prospective adoptive parents complete 10 hours of education before they are eligible to receive placement of a child.

JF&CS Adoption Resources offers a variety of workshops throughout the year to educate pre-adoptive parents. This month, we will be hosting a highly relevant workshop entitled Evaluating Medical Risk in Domestic Infant Adoption.

About the Speaker

Our speaker, developmental-behavioral pediatric specialist Lisa Prock, is the Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Adoption and Foster Care. Her clinical specialization focuses on issues unique to adoption, such as understanding biological health history and prenatal experiences. Dr. Prock has led this workshop for Adoption Resources for many years, and the feedback from pre-adoptive parents has always been very positive.

In past years, clients have sometimes asked how this workshop differs from information their pediatrician will provide. While consulting with a pediatrician is ideal for day-to-day issues that may arise (such as illness, ear infections, and sleeping concerns), when it comes to evaluating medical risk in adoption, it is best to hear from a practitioner who specializes in this field.  

Dr. Prock’s medical practice follows the latest trends and data regarding children being placed for adoption. It is critical that pre-adoptive parents understand the research around issues such as prenatal exposure and biological concerns, so they can make informed decisions.

Workshop Details

Evaluating Medical Risk in Domestic Infant Adoption will take place on March 28, 2019 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at JF&CS Headquarters, 1430 Main Street, Waltham, MA. The workshop is open to the entire community and is intended for pre-adoptive parents, who will receive a certificate for two hours of pre-adoption training.

Registration is $20 per person, cash or check only. To RSVP, please contact Neile Gordon, LCSW at or 617-332-2218.

Deb Shrier, the Associate Director of JF&CS Adoption Resources.Deb Shrier, LICSW, is Associate Director of JF&CS Adoption Resources. Actively involved in the field of adoption both professionally and personally for over 25 years, Deb’s clinical interests include domestic/international adoption, transracial adoption, parenting issues, and search/reunion with birth parents and adopted persons. She has also provided clinical support to adoptive families on birth country tours that include the Philippines, Romania, Guatemala, and Russia. Deb enjoys writing and has contributed to various adoption-related publications as well as the JF&CS blog.

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March 1, 2019
Posted by Kathy Burnes and Beth Soltzberg

A group of people at a Dementia Friends event.

Did you know that Massachusetts is one of only three “age-friendly” states in the nation? Massachusetts, New York, and Colorado have enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States, which means that their elected officials have made a commitment to making their state a great place to live for people of all ages.

The United States, like many countries, is going through an unprecedented demographic shift. Today, there are more people over age 60 than under 20 in the U.S. JF&CS is proud that Massachusetts is one of the first states to recognize both the opportunities and the needs brought on by this transformation. From the beginning, JF&CS has been a catalyst in the movement to make the Commonwealth more age-friendly.

Salem for All Ages

In 2013, based on the success of our work as a founding partner of Brookline Community Aging Network (BrooklineCAN), JF&CS partnered with North Shore Elder Services and the Salem Senior Center to reach out to Salem residents and organizations to identify what made Salem a good place to grow older and what could make it even better. We called our initiative “Salem for All Ages” – the name adopted by the city – and it provided important groundwork for the City of Salem becoming the first city on the North Shore to join AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities in 2015.

Dementia-Friendly Initiatives 

The age-friendly movement has been paralleled by a global dementia-friendly movement, that aims to help communities become more inclusive, respectful, and safe for the growing number of people living with Alzheimer’s or a related disorder and those who care about them. Massachusetts has been a leader in bringing the age-friendly and dementia-friendly movements together.

In 2015, JF&CS hosted the “Toward a Dementia-Inclusive Community” symposium to explore innovative responses by communities around the U.S. and globally that improve livability and quality of life for those affected by dementia. Using the momentum generated by the symposium, the JF&CS Alzheimer’s/Related Disorders Family Support Program partnered with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) to launch Dementia Friendly Massachusetts, one of the first state programs to join Dementia Friendly America. JF&CS co-led Dementia Friendly Massachusetts with EOEA for the first two years and continues as part of its leadership team.

JF&CS also runs the Percolator Memory Café Network and the Dementia Friends Massachusetts public awareness program, which address the key issues of reducing social isolation and increasing public awareness.

Give Feedback for the Age-Friendly Massachusetts Action Plan 

The issues of isolation and public awareness are both spotlighted in the new Age-Friendly Massachusetts Action Plan, which was recently released online. The Governor’s office is seeking feedback on the state plan on an ongoing basis. Please join JF&CS in working together to make Massachusetts more livable for people of all ages and abilities!

For more information about our age-friendly initiatives, please contact Kathy Burnes, Director of Services for Older Adults and Aging Well at Home, at For additional information about our dementia-friendly initiatives, please contact Beth Soltzberg, Director of Alzheimer’s/Related Disorders Family Support Program, at

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February 27, 2019
Posted by JF&CS

Gary, Lily, Jacob, and Kim Creem.

We sat down with Kim Creem, one of our co-chairs for the 2019 JF&CS Benefit, to learn more about her and her connection to JF&CS.

Tell us about your involvement with JF&CS.

My family began our involvement as members of Temple Emanuel of Newton. When our children went to pre-school, we were always given a paper bag with a listing of what was needed that month at Family Table. Each month, the kids and I would fill the bag with the necessary items to bring into our shul for pickup by JF&CS. We then started to bring the kids to Family Table and enjoyed packing bags and making deliveries as a family. 

A few years ago, I was asked to sit on the Center for Basic Needs Assistance Advisory Council. This has been very interesting and informative as Family Table was my original pathway into JF&CS. 

Since then, I have joined the board of directors, the development committee, and the nominating and governance committee, and I am co-chairing the gala! Jumped directly into the deep-end immediately and loving it! 

Tell us about your family.

We are a family of four plus our dog Charlie. My husband Gary and I have two children: Jacob, age 17, and Lily, age 15. 

What is your favorite JF&CS memory?

Our first-time bringing Jacob and Lily to Family Table we delivered food to an apartment complex in Brookline. I remember the children delivering to one of the couples in the building and receiving a little bag of candy from them - as a token gift for all of the bags that they brought into their apartment. The couple wanted our family to come in and chat with them. It was such a meaningful moment for the kids to see the appreciation on this couple’s face when they took the candy; it was their only way to show gratitude and thankfulness. 

What is your favorite book?

My favorite book is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. It is a historical fiction book that takes place in North Korea/Japan and tells a story about different generations of one immigrant family. It a fascinating read about the difficulty of poverty at various levels, immigrant life, and the bonds of love and family.

What is your favorite travel destination?

My favorite travel destination has been Israel. My first visit was at the age of 12 (1981) with my parents and brother on a temple retreat. My second visit was with my husband and children on our own temple retreat (Temple Emanuel of Newton in 2008). My most recent visit was with CJP on an Acharai trip last year (2018).  Each trip to Israel, I learn more, feel more at home, and am fascinated by the rich history and stories of our people. 

What are you most looking forward to about this year’s Benefit?

I am excited to co-chair the “year of change!” We have made a strong effort to create an event that will be very different from past years. A new venue, new format, new content and delivery, new seating style, and new advertising kiosks! I am very thankful that JF&CS has allowed us to think outside the box and be creative with a cutting-edge evening! I am excited to be a part of such a wonderful organization and to represent it at one of their biggest events of the year! 

Join Kim and many others at this year’s JF&CS Benefit on Wednesday, April 3 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. Visit our Benefit page to purchase tickets and find out more information.

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February 15, 2019

Posted by JF&CS

Carrie Berger, the JF&CS North Shore Engagement ManagerJF&CS is excited to welcome Carrie Berger as the new JF&CS North Shore Engagement Manager. With a background in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, this role is a great fit for Berger, who is thrilled to be part of the team at JF&CS. Carrie will focus on continuing to bring meaningful programs to the North Shore and on building partnerships, with a goal of recruiting volunteers and clients to participate in the variety of programs provided by JF&CS.

As the Founder and President of CB Coaching and Consulting, LLC, Carrie works with individuals and small businesses focusing on career coaching, marketing, business development, special events, advertising, and client relations. Carrie received her B.S. in Sport Management from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and her M.Ed. in Organizational Management from Endicott College. Berger has strong roots on the North Shore, having grown up in Peabody, and currently resides in Marblehead with her husband and two children who both attend the Arthur J. Epstein Hillel School.

Prior to founding CB Coaching and Consulting, and after working for Sport Marketing/Advertising firms, Carrie spent 10 years working at the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore (JCCNS) in a variety of roles including Youth and Camp Director, Maccabi Games Delegation Head, and Human Resources and Special Projects Director. Following her time with the JCCNS, she worked for two years as the Marketing and Admissions Director at the Epstein Hillel School. Berger also serves as a faculty member at Endicott College and Salem State University. In addition to her professional responsibilities, Carrie has continually been an active volunteer in the community, having served on the Board of Directors at the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore and currently serving on the Marketing Committee at the Epstein Hillel School and the Voluntary Dues Committee at Congregation Shirat Hayam.

For more information on how to get involved with JF&CS on the North Shore, please email Carrie Berger at

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