Sadie was happily making her seventh-birthday party plans with her family when a compassionate little switch flipped in her mind. Yes, birthday invitations had already been sent out a few weeks prior. And, yes, parental expectations were solidifying around fun ideas that were age-appropriate, child-focused, and celebratory. But that didn’t stop Sadie from abruptly turning to her parents and announcing with resolve, “I don't need any birthday presents. I need to do a mitzvah!"
As Thanksgiving approaches and more people strive to give thanks and give back, Jewish Family Service (JFS) wants to thank everyone in the community who participated in this year’s Sukkot Food Drive.
The food drive looked a little different this year, taking place at the Mayerson JCC as part of the 10th annual Under One Roof community art exhibit. “We’ve partnered with Adath Israel in the past,” said Erica Nyberg, Agency Development Director for JFS.
People generally want to give back and make a positive impact for the underprivileged among us, but not everyone has the financial wherewithal to do that. Fortunately, there are numerous ways—aside from giving money—to improve communities, help individuals, support great causes, and ultimately make a difference.
Jim Ellis and Howard Goldwasser don’t know each other, but they share a private compulsion: they are serial volunteers. At the moment, they also share a common benefactor: Jewish Family Service Heldman Family Food Pantry. The men, both retired, have been independently donating their time to the food pantry in a variety of ways, whether it’s helping people shop; gathering and packing up orders; or making deliveries directly to homes.
All animals need food to survive, and, historically, food scarcity has been a persistent concern for most human societies. These days, as modern agriculture is capable of producing high quantities of nutrient-rich food, malnutrition is increasingly rare—especially in developed nations. Nevertheless, food scarcity remains a serious issue, particularly among vulnerable populations, such as the elderly.
May is here, and Cincinnati is green again. It is a time for blossoms, proms, graduations and gowns. But May is also National Mental Health Month—making it a great time to get familiar with the rich mental health resources available to our community. Jewish Family Service (JFS) believes that mental health and physical health are equally important aspects to a person’s well-being.
Linda Kean doesn’t believe in fate, but an experience with synchronicity last year still has her smiling. Kean, who is Vice President of Operations and Youth & Family Programs with Jewish Family Service (JFS), explained how JFS benefitted from fortuitous timing earlier in the year. “In April of 2020, I had an inspired idea. I said to our Heldman Family Food Pantry staff, ‘We really need to redesign the food pantry."
One of the most important aspects of charitable assistance is the need to protect the confidentiality of recipients. People’s dignity should be at the center of any provided service; if a family is struggling—whether financially or in other ways—their right to privacy must be respected. So, when Jewish Family Service (JFS) recently received a grant that made recipient anonymity more difficult, their staff worked hard to create a resolution that was a success for everyone involved.
“We’re not alone, you know?” Gennady Khaskelis says thoughtfully over FaceTime on a recent, dreary February morning. The conversation, however, is the opposite of dreary—he and his wife Inna are a charming, welcoming, and fascinating couple. While very much their own, their story is also the story of immigrant Jews coming to Cincinnati as they have for two centuries, and also an American success story.
“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.