Posted by Ellen Ogintz Fishman
Rimma Zelfand, chief executive officer of JF&CS, along with approximately 20 other Jewish organizational and lay leaders, met with Senator Scott Brown and his staff for breakfast at the Combined Jewish Philanthropies office on January 12. They came to exchange thoughts and ideas with him about issues important to them, in particular Israel, support for education and training through Jewish Vocational Service, and support for the vulnerable among our population
Rimma said that he came across as an incredibly loyal supporter of Israel. He appreciates the fact that it is a democracy and our primary ally in the region, and understands the importance of its security. He is supportive of funding for education and training, feeling that this will be money well-spent in the long run, because it will give people tools for sustainability. And he was honest about not having all the answers to the challenge of providing services for the most vulnerable populations in our midst at a time when changes will have to be made.
Rimma found him to be refreshingly approachable—he was not arrogant, judgmental, or doctrinaire. He did not speak in slogans or clichés, and was neither standoffish nor formal. Several people in the group emphasized how accessible and consumer-friendly his office had been when they made contact. He explained that that was a goal of his—to be genuinely responsive to all constituents. And, in fact, he stressed his eagerness to continue the dialogue that had begun that morning.
Ellen Ogintz Fishman started Holocaust Services at JF&CS in 1993. Combining her clinical skills and interest in history she has shepherded the program through its evolution as the major provider of services to aging Holocaust survivors in the Boston area. She does freelance writing on the Holocaust and other topics, and enjoys writing for the JF&CS blog. She graduated from Brown University and received her MSW from Simmons College.