A Look into the JFS Counseling Program

For over 75 years, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven has successfully provided counseling to individuals and families throughout the community.  Regardless of religious background, race, or stage of life, JFS works tirelessly to get people back on their feet, leading them through difficult times and giving them the strength to carry on with their everyday lives.  Currently, JFS offers child and adult counseling and will soon offer support groups to help those facing challenges such as loss and bereavement, parenting issues and family caregivers’ support.

“Rebecca (name has been changed for confidentiality purposes) called JFS as she felt stressed and noticed that she was experiencing anxiety in every area of her life,” recalls Gayle Daskal, LCSW, a social worker on the agency’s dedicated team. “I let her express her concerns and we explored the roots of her stress and the connection it had to the increased anxiety she was feeling.  Together we worked to establish goals for stress and anxiety reduction. Rebecca learned mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation and began using meditation applications such as The Calm App and Insight Timer between her weekly sessions.  With these newly acquired skills and her commitment to practice these techniques, Rebecca found effective ways of coping and managing her stress, which in turn helped her anxiety symptoms in everyday life.”

Although all cases are different, Rebecca is a great example of what the agency strives to provide to anyone who reaches out.  “At times, we all need guidance and change begins with a phone call,” commented Director of the Mental Health Clinic, Margaliet Ligtenstein, LCSW.  “It is very fulfilling to help people work hard toward their goals and thrive again in their everyday lives.”

In recent months, JFS has received requests for such services as parenting teens and support for family caregivers of the elderly.  To this end, JFS plans to offer Jewish Family Life Enrichment (JFLE) Programs addressing these needs in the community.  Please see accompanying program information.

If you or a loved one can benefit from JFS’ services, reach out by calling (203) 389-5599 ext. 105 or email ml@jfsnh.org.  You can also visit the agency’s website at www.jfsnh.org to stay up to date on new support groups.

Find additional program information here: Family Life Enrichment Fall 2019

JFS Welcomes 5 New Board Members!

At the Annual Meeting in June, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven welcomed five new members to its Board of Directors. Renee Drell, Jill Nathanson, Marni Smith Katz, Melanie Rausch, and Hedda Rubenstein bring a diverse set of skills and experience to the agency. JFS looks forward to having their knowledge, expertise and positive outlook as part of the family.


Renee Drell has spent her entire professional career in the not for profit sector. For the recent 10 years she was the Executive Director for HomeSharing, a social service agency that prevents homelessness by providing shared affordable housing to those seeking affordable housing and also to those who want to share their homes for additional income so that they can remain living in their home. She holds an MSW and a CSW. Her professional experience in Fund Raising, Event Planning, Board and Committee Development, Financial Management, and Advertising/Promotion will be very beneficial to JFS as a whole.


Jill Nathanson, a Hamden native, comes to JFS with knowledge of environmental issues. She is currently a member of the Hamden Tree Commission and Buy Green Realty Network, and is well-versed in energy efficiency and sustainable development. Jill graduated from Tufts University with a BA in Clinical Psychology and has experience as a foster care case worker. Her further education with the Professional Business Institute in Hamden adds to her versatility and JFS is already seeing Jill’s dedication as she volunteered this summer at the Food Pantry assisting clients.


Marni Smith Katz, a Woodbridge resident, comes to JFS as a seasoned non-profit board member who strives to give back to the community.  Her experience includes six years on the executive board of Temple Beth Sholom and the Development Committee of Camp Ramah. Marni is currently the Manager of Business at Quick Center of the Arts in Fairfield and has experience as Development Director at Westport Arts Center and Ezra Academy. Marni has a great understanding of the nature of non-profits and brings a wealth of experience to our board.


Melanie Rausch is originally from Maine and has been practicing law in Hartford, Connecticut since 2006. She specializes in Non-Profit Law and Affordable Housing Development along with other specialties. She has served on the CT Senate Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights, on other local non-profit boards and been active in various Jewish organizations including the Jewish Federation of New Haven. Melanie is well-versed in the logistics of non-profit work and the agency is excited to have her talent on the board.


Hedda Rubenstein of Branford is a retired human resources executive, who has served in positions for corporations such as Otis Elevator, United Technologies, and Aetna.  She comes to JFS with 15 years of prior board experience at the Neighborhood Music School, and previously served as their president. As a musician with a bright personality, Hedda is very involved in our local community, performing regularly with the Klemzer Ensemble, the Nu Haven Kapelye, and Congregation Mishkan Israel.


JFS is very grateful to all five board members and welcomes them to the JFS family.