What does the “J” in JFCS stand for? That is a question the Board and staff of Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis spends time reflecting on strategically and thoughtfully. After all, we are a staff of nearly 130 diverse people reflecting many religions, ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds, abilities, strengths and weaknesses, sexual and gender identities, and more. Our Board of Directors is comprised of 35 people with various levels of religious observance, educational background, financial capacity, some with physical or emotional disabilities, and a variety of skillsets. The more than 13,000 people we serve come from many different places in the world, an array of challenges, varied support systems, and different experiences.

The war in Israel: How to begin conversations with your children
By Leah Persky, PhD & CFLE • Manager of Family Life Education

The brutality of the attack on Israel is conveyed in the graphic images and details we see on the news. It is heartbreaking to see and so hard to turn away from watching this nightmare unfold. So many in the Twin Cities have close and deep ties with Israel – those with loved ones in Israel are doing all they can to support them in the face of such violence. The days since the attack have passed in a blur with such a mixture of human emotions and a tragic loss of so many lives.

It is hard to know how to talk about these events, especially with the children and young people in your life. Many of us are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotional. The question I have been pondering is how do we talk to our children about these events? We want our children to feel safe, and at the same time, we also do not want to lie or sugarcoat the situation. Our children deserve to know what is happening in an age-appropriate way.

Online registration is closed, but walk-ins are welcome
When: Sunday, Oct. 22 @ 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Temple Israel, 2323 Fremont Ave S, Mpls

At this year's 23rd Annual Twin Cities Jewish Community Mental Health Education Conference, keynoter Sophie Reigel, author and mental health advocate, will share her mental health journey, including navigating anxiety as a college student during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the keynote address, the conference will offer two breakout sessions of workshops with 15 topics to choose from, covering mental health issues affecting youth to people in the later stages of life. Workshop topics include navigating complex healthcare systems; the spiritual care component of mental health; teen addiction and harm reduction; the impact of social isolation on mental health; crisis intervention and much more! The event will also include an in-person and virtual Resource Fair.

Please note that online registration for the conference is now closed. Walk-ins are welcome, but attendees should plan to bring a snack/lunch for the day.

Naloxone Training for Families & Teens: Empowering Communities
to Save Lives
Join us on Tuesday, Nov. 14, from 6-7 p.m. for an event that could save a life! JFCS, in partnership with Steve Rummler Hope Network (SRHN), presents "Naloxone Training for Families & Teens: Empowering Communities to Save Lives." This training offers essential knowledge and skills in Naloxone administration and overdose prevention, with a particular focus on families, teens, and young adults. Parents, caregivers, and teenagers are encouraged and welcome to attend.

Substance misuse can affect young people, and being informed and empowered can make a significant difference. By attending with your teens, you'll ensure they have access to essential information and skills that could one day save a life. Together, as families and communities, we can protect our loved ones and create a healthier, safer environment. Don't miss this opportunity to acquire life-saving skills.

Contact Lili Jurayj at with questions. Participation is free, registration is required, and all attendees will receive their Naloxone kit.

Addiction and Recovery Services Lead Sponsor: Susan and Richard Goldman
Caring Connections members relish opportunity to give back
to community
By Stacey Spencer • JFCS Disability Services Manager

Caring Connections members – Jewish adults with disabilities – love to get together for events! I mean, they really like attending Caring Connections events. Who wouldn’t? After all, having a designated time to hang out and do cool things with people you enjoy hanging out with appeals to everyone, right? The events are social, engaging, interactive, creative, and of course, entertaining.

Disability Lead Sponsor: Toodie & Frank Trestman Special Needs and Collaborative Education Endowment Fund, a designated fund of the Minnesota Jewish Community Foundation
Volunteer Spotlight September 2023: Julie Jacobs
Julie Jacobs, pictured here, has been on the Mental Heatlth Education Conference planning committee since 2013. Learn more about this dedicated volunteer!

Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

I have four children and eight grandchildren and relish any time I spend with them. I received my Master of Social Work at Ohio State. I had a private psychotherapy practice in Columbus, Ohio, for eight years. My family and I moved to Minneapolis in 1997. I worked in the emergency department at Regions Hospital for a number of years. During that time, I experienced complications from a hysterectomy. After which I experienced about 12 years of intractable depression. After a variety of different treatments, I finally found a medication that worked! I clearly have a vested interest in mental health and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness.

Volunteers needed for the following opportunities:
Fall raking to help Senior Services Clients
Volunteers in Action partnering with Dress For Success
on Oct. 26
Volunteers in Action with PJ Library Puppy Parade at Sholom West Campus Nov. 12
Stay informed about volunteering at JFCS through our quarterly volunteer e-newsletter and the volunteer page on our website. Contact Dana Shapiro, Community & Volunteer Engagement Manager, at or 952-417-2112 with any other volunteer-related questions or to be added to the list to receive future editions of the e-newsletter.
JFCS Staff Q&A: Meet J-Pride Coordinator Hunter Wengersky
JFCS’ J-Pride program creates community through queer-focused Jewish programming for LGBTQ+ Jews and their allies throughout the Twin Cities. New Program Coordinator Hunter Wengersky recently spoke about how they are excited to create connections in their role.

Why did the J-Pride Coordinator position appeal to you?

It appealed to me because of the ways in which it allows me to give back and create experiences and resources for my community. As a Queer Jew, it can sometimes be a bit of a balancing act to be in the wider Jewish community, and J-Pride is in a unique position to be able to step in and do direct acts of tikkun olam (repairing the world) to create a stable place for other LGBTQ+ Jews to land.

JFCS’ Vocational Rehabilitation program embodies spirit of Disability Employment Awareness Month
Governor Tim Walz has proclaimed October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Minnesota, in recognition of the skills, experience and dedication that people with disabilities contribute to the labor force and our state’s economy.

This year marks several major milestones in disability employment. It’s the 50th anniversary of the National Rehabilitation Act, which was the first federal law aimed at providing equal access for people with disabilities by removing employment, architectural and transportation barriers. In Minnesota, it’s also the 50th anniversary of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which advances equal opportunity for employees and job applicants with disabilities, and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Minnesota Council on Disability.

Harnessing Community Partnerships to Advocate for Food Resources
In partnership with MAZON, a Jewish Response to Hunger, PRISM, and clergy and congregants from Twin Cities synagogues, JFCS had the opportunity to do federal advocacy on the Farm Bill to help protect and strengthen the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) from potential cuts. MAZON organized efforts across the country to encourage discussions with elected officials while they were home on recess this summer and early fall.

Although known as the Farm Bill, 80% of the funding in the bill relates to SNAP, WIC, and other food security measures. In these meetings with Rep. Phillips, Rep. Omar, and with staff from Sen. Smith and Sen. Klobuchar’s office, JFCS shared information and stories about the devastating impact that cuts to these programs could have on individuals and families.

Join us: The JFCS 35th Annual Benefit is Dec. 2, 2023
Get your tickets now and join Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis for this year’s 35th Annual Benefit!

Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023
Minneapolis Marriott Southwest

This year, we will raise money for JFCS Mental Health and Wellness programs and services. Mental heath affects all of us, no matter our age, where we live, or what resources are available to us. Providing mental health and wellness support to all who turn to JFCS is central to our work and our mission to help people sustain healthy relationships, ease suffering, and offer support in times of need. The Jeff Barin and Wendy Fox family will be presented with the Friends of the Family Award.