As Fay May was thinking ahead to her upcoming 92nd birthday, she eagerly shared how she was planning for a special ‘Birthday Shabbat’ at Rockdale Temple. “I’ll have to take my walker, of course,” Fay said. “And I have an eye problem, so I can't strike a match. Rabbi Meredith Kahan will have to light the candles on the bimah—so I don't burn the temple down,” she added with a mischievous grin. “And then, I will say the barucha (blessing), and they’ll bring the wine and the challah to my seat."
In January of this year, Jewish Family Service Youth Mental Health (YMH) program quadrupled in size when Director Leah Marcus brought on three talented social workers to join her efforts: Amanda Cramer, Nina Pridonoff, and Kasey Rosswurm. “Kasey, Nina, and Amanda are such a fantastic team,” Marcus said. “They are very energetic and have worked together so well. I couldn't pick a better group of people to do this critical work.”
It is safe to say, sadly, that Mero Ruff’s story is not entirely unique. In the era of COVID-19, reports abound of food insecurity, job loss, and housing uncertainty. What sets Mero’s tale apart is the strong, trusting bond he established with his Jewish Family Service care manager, Debbie Zimmerman (RN), who helped him in his time of need.
“He was emotionally abusive, and my kids were seeing it and living it,” said Abigail, talking about her ex-husband via Zoom meeting last week, curly light brown hair tucked in a loose bun (identities altered for privacy). Abigail is safe now, thanks to Jewish Family Service and her own resilience. “The day the kids and I left felt like freedom,” she said.
Jewish Family Service (JFS) helps survivors of domestic abuse move from a bad situation into a better one.
“Holocaust survivors are our teachers and our heroes,” said Mark Wilf, the chair of The Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) board of trustees. “With inspiring strength and conviction, they teach us about the past. Now, they are teaching us how to better serve all older adults who have survived trauma.”
JFNA’s Center on Aging and Trauma, a project of the Holocaust Survivor Initiative, has just awarded Jewish Family Service a one-year, $66,666 grant.
“It was one of my worst times,” says Gloria (identities changed for privacy). The interview takes place in the dining room of her small, freestanding home. There are signs of love all around—lots of green plants in the windows—but dust piles on the flat surfaces, and the curtains are faded. We are talking about when she finally fought free from addiction to pain medicine. (This interview occurred pre-COVID-19; at the end we share how Gloria is faring during the pandemic.)
“Jewish Family Service is committed to keeping these family histories alive,” said Amanda Huecker. Huecker is a Post-Adoption Social Worker at Jewish Family Service and works with families who are part of what she calls the adoption triad.
“The adoption triad is made up of adoptive parents, birth parents, and the adoptees,” she explained. “The services we offer are varied, depending upon the level of privacy that triad has set up."
COVID-19 has changed nearly every aspect of our lives, and for some of the people in our community, those changes could be deadly. That’s why Jewish Family Service (JFS) quickly transitioned most programming online to continue its mission.
JFS is committed to strengthening people’s lives in times of need, as well as supporting senior community members.
“In terms of who may be in need of our help, we have seen COVID-19 affecting people across our community,” said Jewish Family Service CEO Liz Vogel. “There are so many people who have been impacted who do not know where to go for help.” According to the 2019 Cincinnati Jewish Community Study, 28 percent of Jewish households have insufficient savings for three months to cover unexpected or emergency expenses. “At Jewish Family Service, we want to make sure those who don’t have that...
Jewish Family Service is proud to announce Meredith Davis as the new Center for Holocaust Survivors Director. In this role, she will supervise care management staff, administer all grant funding for the center, and direct social and educational group programming.
Davis replaces Gail Gepsman Ziegler in the role, who retired in February after 17 years with Jewish Family Service.