A Message of Thanksgiving
by Reuben D. Rotman, President & CEO, Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies
Over the coming days, many of us will gather with friends and family to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.  It will be a time set aside to celebrate each other and to express our gratefulness for the goodness in our world. In keeping with that spirit, please accept my personal thank you for the critical services your agencies provide each day.
Network Board Chair Perry Ohren, CEO of JFS Detroit, Paula Goldstein, CEO, JFCS Philadelphia, Tara Feiner, Director, JFS of Dayton, Jordan Golin, CEO JFCS Pittsburgh
The last few weeks have been a roller coaster for our Network. During the first weekend of November, close to half our Network member agency executive leadership came together in Phoenix for our annual Executives’ Conference. They enjoyed days of learning and sharing and throughout spoke of the vitality of our Network and its potential to advance our communities. As we began our time together in Phoenix, we heard via telephone from our colleague Jordan Golin, CEO of JFCS Pittsburgh, who shared the profound and lasting impact of the devastating shooting that tore through his community at the Tree of Life Synagogue; taking the lives of 11 innocent victims who were in synagogue for prayer. And over the last few days, we have watched with fear the spread of wildfires throughout the Los Angeles region, again placing our agencies at the front line of responding to tragedy.
And earlier this week, our Network Board Chair Perry Ohren, CEO of JFS Detroit, joined by Paula Goldstein, CEO, JFCS Philadelphia and Tara Feiner, Director, JFS of Dayton along with Michael Levy, Board Chair, JFCS Atlanta, represented our Network at a Jewish Communal Leadership Solidarity Mission to Pittsburgh. I’m proud to share the following excerpt of Perry’s remarks:

As Pittsburgh continues to put one foot in front of the other, I want to specifically draw attention to my colleagues at Jewish Family & Community Services Pittsburgh. JFCS quickly and humbly stepped in to this devastation and will continue to provide essential assistance for the community in the months and years ahead. Like JFCS, the common thread among all of the Network’s Jewish human service agencies, in what we call ourselves and in what we do, is Jewish and Service .
Like Jewish Family & Community Services, the way that our member agencies do Jewish is through service .
We help older adults and their loved ones to age in their communities.
We help families suddenly on hard financial times to make ends meet.
We help adults in intimate partner violence situations to seek better lives.
We help job seekers to attain employment, marching toward self-sufficiency and their full potential.
We help people struggling with their demons, possibly thinking life isn’t worthwhile anymore, to step outside of their deep pain.
We help families who need food to make it through the month.
We help people arriving to our country as refugees, fleeing persecution, to pursue a life of freedom and opportunity.
We help Holocaust survivors to live their remaining days with dignity and respect.
We help people with developmental disabilities to live their lives, alongside us at work, as our neighbors and praying next to us in our synagogues.
We help people traumatized by disasters, whether natural hurricanes, floods and fires, or horrific acts, to grieve, to move on, to heal.
We help! When someone is in pain, we help. Our tools aren’t many, nor are they big. Our main tool is our selves: a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, an ear to listen, a steady presence through crisis, challenge, transition, trauma.
Jewish Family & Community Services Pittsburgh does this every day. It is never easy. It is always necessary.
Three Shabbatot ago, Jewish Family & Community Services woke up to the unspeakable tragedy of 11 Jews murdered while in prayer at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Jewish Family & Community Services said “Hinenu”. We are here! As your brothers and sisters throughout this country and around the world we are here with you, in solidarity, to help all of us to move forward, bringing light and hope and healing.

On behalf of the Network’s professional staff and its Board of Directors, please accept my wishes for a most happy, peaceful and celebratory Thanksgiving holiday. We are grateful for the profound care and respect you share with your communities each day and humbled to serve as your partners as we work together to strengthen and advance our Jewish human service sector.