Making Connections
Your Monthly Update on Our Work and Impact
Dear Friend,

I’ve never had a job in which I receive thank you notes on a regular basis, but I do at JF&CS. With mental health needs soaring, this note from one of our support group participants really struck me:  

“You were a constant positive presence during one of my lowest times. A time when I was so haunted by dark thoughts and self-loathing that I didn’t know what to do. But it was a huge comfort to know that I wasn’t alone. Your willingness to listen without judgment was healing and powerful. You made me feel normal again. You and your group were a lifeline.”

At JF&CS, our work is to help our community come together to fulfill not just each other’s basic needs, but also our emotional needs. Of the 150 calls a month we get across all our intake lines, three-fourths of them are now for mental health needs. That amounts to five or six calls every business day with someone with a new mental health need.  

These calls have allowed us to help people connect to services and supports they need. But they’ve also taught us how we can make more of an impact: We increased our range of support groups, expanded programming for clients with persistent mental illness, and worked with synagogues and community partners to expand access to mental health education. 

Thank you for supporting our important work with mental health, we want to be there for you and for the whole community on an ongoing basis.


Gail Schulman
Chief Executive Officer
"Living with loss is a lifeline journey. We need to share with others experiencing loss, which helps validate our feelings of grief" quote by Marjie Sokoll, director of the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Jewish Healing
JF&CS Bereavement Support Groups provide emotional and spiritual support for adults living with loss. In the past 18 months, interest in these drop-in groups – now offered via Zoom – has exploded. What used to be one twice-monthly group is now four weekly groups, driven by a need for connection during an isolating time. There are groups for people who lost their partners, lost their parents, or have lost someone to suicide. Participants share their stories, feel heard – and learn that the famous “five stages of grief” are just a myth, with no one way to grieve. Our groups are open to everyone, and also allow space for discussion of Jewish aspects of mourning, such as shiva or yizkor. Click here to learn more.
Join us for a virtual workshop on Addiction in the Jewish Community
September is National Recovery Month. Join us for a virtual workshop on addiction in the Jewish Community, featuring Rabbi Ilan Glazer, Founder and Director of Our Jewish Recovery. The event takes place tonight, Sept. 30, at 7pm on Zoom. We will explore the questions: Why do so many suffer in silence, and what can we do to get help to those in need? What tools does Judaism offer those who experience the disease and pain of addiction? How can we better serve those crying out for help? Click here for more details and to sign up.
Six months ago, we launched a new telephone line in partnership with CJP called Mental Health Connect. It’s a free, confidential, information and referral service. Callers talk to real, live JF&CS mental health professionals who take the time to understand each situation and connect people with expert advice and appropriate resources. Our callers come from over 200 towns around Massachusetts, from Natick to North Reading. We know it can be difficult to reach out for help. Calling us is an important first step towards finding support.
Today is the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, when 33,771 Jews were murdered by the Nazis outside Kiev. As we remember the victims, we also work to support the physical and emotional well-being of over 400 Holocaust survivors living in in the Boston area, many of whom came from the former Soviet Union. Our case managers, supported by a team of dedicated volunteers, work to let survivors know they are cared for and work keep them in their own homes, and away from institutional settings, which can retraumatize them.
JF&CS offers support to Jewish adults living with mental health challenges through our Chaverim Shel Shalom (Friends of Peace) program. In addition to cultural, educational, and social programs, Chaverim Shel Shalom offers ongoing connection to Jewish tradition and the Jewish community. Members meet two to four times a month for social activities. Watch this brief video to hear their stories.
Philanthropy spotlight: Stephanie and Steven Kasok
This spring, Wellesley residents Stephanie and Steven Kasok recognized the incredible need for expanded mental health services and the role JF&CS could play in filling this void. They gave JF&CS a substantial three-year leadership gift to enable expansion of our community-based mental health education and workshops, cognitive behavioral therapy training, and resources for social isolation. “Rather than focusing on diagnosis and therapy in a vacuum, JF&CS considers all elements of a person’s life and offers a range of supportive services to address their needs with a holistic approach,” said Stephanie Kasok. “We are thrilled to help JF&CS expand its presence as a community social service resource, without label or stigma, and we hope that our leadership gift will inspire others to contribute to this effort as well.” To learn more about how you can make a gift to support this work, please contact JF&CS Chief Philanthropy Officer James Cohen.
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