For the past 18 years, in coordination with Jewish Family Service St. Paul, and support from the Minneapolis and St. Paul Jewish Federations, as well as many individuals and other sponsors, our community has had the great opportunity to come together each October for an outstanding conference intended to eliminate stigma surrounding mental illness, and elevate understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people living with mental illness as they journey through their lives.

This year’s conference will take place on Sunday, Oct. 21, and promises to be warm, welcoming, and uniquely educational. While spending time learning and reflecting, we will also celebrate Conference Coordinator Laurie Kramer, who founded the event 18 years ago, grew and nurtured it to what it has become today, and will retire following the event. We are immensely grateful to Laurie for her vision and her labor. She leaves a tremendous legacy—thank you, Laurie!

A heartfelt thank you to all who supported the JFCS Online Auction
Thank you to all who generously supported the 2018 Online Auction! In addition to the fabulous prizes you won, you helped raise over $22,000! Proceeds from the Online Auction support the critical work of JFCS, serving thousands in our community, our neighborhoods and our families each year. We are grateful for your support!

Online Auction sponsors: Coordinated Business Systems, Ltd., Village Gives Back Foundation
An introduction to Family Life Education programming
By Leah Persky • Family Life Education Manager

JFCS has been serving the community with innovative, effective, and culturally-responsive family education programming for more than 20 years. We have expertise in working with families and children throughout the lifespan, with the goal of tikkun olam, (repairing the world) one person at time. 

Our highly-trained professional staff is available to serve the needs of you or your organization. We offer trainings and classes for professional staff and teachers; parenting series; mental health and well-being classes; topics for interfaith families; and more. 

JFCS Family Life Education offers many classes – here is just a sample:
• Conflict Resolution: Improving Communication and Diffusing Conflict in the Workplace
• The Oys and Joys of Technology: Creating a Family Media Plan for all Ages
• How to Deal with Your Child’s Tantrums and Meltdowns and Keep Your Sanity
• Mental Health 101: Exploring Common Mental Health Challenges and their Impacts
• One Couple: Two Faiths: Learn and Discuss How Two Faiths Impact a Relationship

For a full list of current course offerings, click here. If you have a need that is not on this list, please reach out to Family Life Education Program Manager Leah Persky at 952-542-4825 or and we can discuss tailoring programming to meet your needs. 
Did you know: AmazonSmile Gives
By Dana Rubin • Development Director

Having just celebrated the Jewish High Holidays and reflecting on all that we did this year, all that we want to do differently and perhaps all we should have done, I often think about how I can make a difference, what actions or steps I can take, whether big or small. 

Did you know that offers a service called AmazonSmile, a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, and at no cost to you. Nearly all products (tens of millions) on are marked eligible for an AmazonSmile donation.

You simply use the same account that you already have established at but go to to sign up. Your shopping cart, wish list, wedding or baby registry, and other account settings are also the same. On your first visit to the website you need to select a charitable organization to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. Your charity will remain the same each time you shop unless you choose to change it. The AmazonSmile Foundation will then donate 0.5% of the purchase price back to the charity you chose. If you browse Amazon and do not sign into the AmazonSmile page, Amazon will remind you to make that selection if you choose!

So next time you are shopping online for yourself or for gifts, please consider this easy step you can take to make a difference. Just search for Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis on the website and JFCS will be the recipient of additional funds for our programs and services that serve the entire community. Thank you in advance and wishing you and your loved ones a Happy and Healthy 5779.
Hag Sameach: You can help ensure a joyous holiday season for all
In Hebrew, Hag Sameach means “Happy Holidays”. To ensure a joyous holiday season for all in our community, JFCS’ Hag Sameach program provides gifts and holiday ritual items to families and individuals in need. If you or someone you know would benefit from our Hag Sameach program, please reach out to your synagogue or make a confidential call to JFCS Intake and Resource Connection at 952-546-0616.

Hag Sameach Sponsors: Lead Sponsor: Clara Ruth Kaner Children’s Fund, a designated fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation
Introducing our new column: Ask a JFCS Counselor
JFCS’ highly skilled, licensed therapists work with care and compassion to address the challenges people face throughout their lives. In this column, our counselors will briefly answer questions we frequently receive. This month, Counselor Natalie Oleson, MSW, LICSW, answers the following:

Q: My 7 year-old’s behavior is out of control lately. I am at my wit’s end. I wonder if we should talk to a therapist?

Q: Am I experiencing “normal” daily stress or to I need to talk to someone?

If you have a question you would like to submit for a future column, please email Jill Kozberg, Counseling Program Manager, at All questions will be published anonymously.

When suicide enters our world
By Mark Kaufman, MSW, LICSW • JFCS Counselor

Suicide is unfortunately more common than many think. We hear about it often – but suicide is hardest when it strikes close to home.

I met Jim when I was a young teen, growing up in a rural area of Ohio. He came from the South, was really engaging, and wore a cowboy hat. He was traveling with the harvest and working, seeing the country. I thought Jim was really cool and looked up to him – I always looked forward to seeing him at social occasions in my community. He came the next several summers and I always enjoyed connecting with him. After a while, we lost touch. A few years later, myself a young adult, I found out he had completed suicide. Despite the distance of several years and states, this hit me hard. Jim was someone I identified with. Suicide had entered my world, challenging my understanding of life, and of death.

Mental Health Education Conference featuring humorist and radio personality John Moe
The 18th annual Mental Health Education Conference sponsored by the Twin Cities Jewish community, “Hope, Humor and Healing – Finding Light in Dark Places,” will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, at Temple Israel .

The event, which is free and open to people of all faiths and spiritualities, will feature a keynote address from John Moe, host of the podcast The Hilarious World of Depression.

In addition to the keynote address, the conference will offer two breakout sessions of workshops with 28 topics to choose from, covering mental health issues affecting youth to people in the later stages of life. Workshop topics include helping young people overcome anxiety, media fatigue, caring for someone experiencing dementia, addiction and recovery, Emotional Freedom Techniques, and many more. The event will also include a resource fair with free educational materials, local resources, and books on mental health and addiction available for purchase. This year’s keynote session will include an 18th anniversary video and a closing ceremony, Music of Hope and Light, led by Wendy Goldberg.

Laurie Kramer’s mission: Educate and lessen stigma of mental illness
Eighteen years ago, Laurie Kramer founded the annual Mental Health Education Conference (MHEC). Sponsored by the Twin Cities Jewish community, it has become a marquee event each fall – about 500 people attend each year and dozens of presenters hold breakout sessions on topics covering mental health issues affecting youth to people in the later stages of life.

This year marks the 18th (chai) anniversary of the conference, and Kramer has decided to make it her last one serving as Conference Coordinator. Chai in Hebrew means both the number 18 and the word life. “It’s the chai year – I wanted to go out on a chai note,” she smiled. “I turned 70 this year and I thought it would be a good year to retire.”

The conference has become such a key event, it’s easy to forget the genesis for the entire thing occurred during a small moment at a memorial service for Barbara Schneider, a Minneapolis woman active in the Twin Cities Jewish community who struggled with severe mental illness. 

Twin Cities Jewish Healing Program
JFCS' Jewish Healing Program serves Jews and their families encountering life-altering medical situations who are looking for a spiritual connection, but are unaffiliated with a synagogue. The Healing Program has created a vital partnership with Twin Cities hospitals, nursing homes and hospices in an ongoing effort to provide culturally-sensitive care and spiritual support to their Jewish patients. Experienced clergy visit those in health care situations who are in need of healing.

The Jewish High Holidays are particularly meaningful times of reflection for Jewish individuals facing life challenges. JFCS recently sent information and resources to many chaplains and healthcare providers seeking ways to attend to and nurture their connection to Jewish patients and residents. Information included:

If you, or someone you know would like more information on the Twin Cities Jewish Healing Program, contact Judy Marcus at
Upcoming events: Please join us
Shalom Baby Circle Time
Sunday, Sept. 30 @ 10-11:30 a.m.

Twin Cities Jewish Community 18th Annual
Conference on Mental Health
Sunday, Oct. 21 @ 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The December Dilemma For Interfaith Families
Tuesday, Nov. 13 @ 7-8:30 p.m.

30th Annual Laugh on Their Behalf Benefit
Saturday, Dec. 1 @ 6 p.m.
JFCS Caregiver Coaching:
When you don't know where to begin, Just Call JFCS
Being a caregiver can be emotionally charged and sometimes frustrating. When you, or someone you know has questions about taking care of a loved one, and don't know where to begin, Just Call JFCS. We can help. 

Senior Services Sponsors: Anonymous (2), Kelen Family Foundation
Jewish Family and Children's Service of Minneapolis |