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.
“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.)
“Young people can inspire others, just like adults can. They have a ton of power. And I think sometimes we forget how much good a single dollar can do—or a single can of soup.”
Chrissie Blatt couldn’t help but beam during a recent interview about her daughter Ella’s bat mitzvah project for Jewish Family Service: a canned soup drive to support Jewish Family Service Heldman Family Food Pantry at the Barbash Family Vital Support Center.
“I have a great appreciation for what I consider an immutable fact: people who can feed themselves have a greater sense of independence,” stated Ben Kaufman.
Ben is the master gardener of the community garden of the Barbash Family Vital Support Center, located on the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion campus. The garden helps provide hundreds of people in our community access to fresh vegetables through the Jewish Family Service Heldman Family Food Pantry.
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.