Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven Names Honorees for Spring Celebration

For information on tickets & sponsorship opportunities, please click here

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven (JFSGNH) is proud to announce their honorees for their Spring Celebration, which will take place at Congregation B’nai Jacob, on Thursday April 23, 2020, from 6-8pm.  Debra and Richard Epstein and Betsy Flaherty will be recognized for their outstanding, ongoing commitment to JFSGNH.  In their various roles as board members, volunteers, program founders, advocates and donors, these three individuals have worked diligently to improve the lives of children and families in our community who rely upon JFS’s vital programs and services.

The accomplishments of the 2020 honorees also serve as inspiration for the Spring Celebration’s fundraising goals.  Proceeds raised will benefit all essential JFS programs including: Child and Adult Mental Health Services, Food Assistance Programs (Pantry and Food4kids), Social Work Outreach Services Program (SOS) and the Holocaust Survivors Program.

“It is not other people’s family members who need our food pantry, weekend supplemental food, warm clothing, require counseling, vocational outreach, emergency financial service assistance or are Holocaust survivors.  It is every one of us– our families, friends and neighbors!” explains JFS CEO Amy Rashba. We must continue to support one another.”

About the honorees:

Richard Epstein, a lifelong resident of New Haven is President of the L.H. Brenner/Thompson and Peck Insurance Agency.  He’s been involved in several local organizations–as Chair of the CT Special Olympics Games, President of Congregation B’nai Jacob, Board member of Hamden Hall Country Day School, Chair of the New Haven Police Commission and as Past President of Jewish Family Service.

For the past 40 years, Debra Epstein has served on numerous community boards, including Congregation B’nai Jacob, VP of Women’s Philanthropy, past chair of Rachel’s Table and the co-founder of Food4Kids New Haven.  Both Debbie and Rick are proud parents to Kate and Adam Fierman, Emily Epstein, Herbie and Michelle Epstein and grandparents to Zachary, Noah, Reid, Levi and Elyse. “We became involved in JFS because of the services they provide, regardless of one’s economic situation or religious affiliation,” she shares. “JFS uniquely allows its volunteers to be ‘hands on’, thereby directly impacting the quality of life for the disadvantaged.”

Betsy Flaherty, who previously served on the Congregation B’nai Jacob and Ezra Academy Boards, is currently a board member of Woman’s Philanthropy of Greater New Haven, a Regional Board Member of ADL as well as a facilitator for the ADL Words to Action program.  Betsy began volunteering at the JFS Food Pantry in 2013.  “Working at the pantry has given me insight into the extent of food insecurity in our community,” she says. “Getting to know and care about Pantry clients allows me to treat them with the integrity and respect they deserve, while helping them make ends meet.”  A resident of Bethany, Betsy and her husband Sean are parents to Cassi and Michael DiLorenzo, Hannah and Simon and grandparents to Mia and Vinny.

JFS CEO Amy Rashba feels privileged to honor both the Epsteins and Betsy Flaherty.  “I was so impressed with Betsy’s personal touch and compassion,” she says. “When she posted a Facebook photo of our nearly depleted Food Pantry shelves, our community was stirred to quickly fill them!  And long-time JFS supporters Rick and Debbie are so passionate about feeding hungry school children over the weekends with our FOOD4KIDS program.  All three honorees are the embodiment of all that is great within Greater New Haven.  They genuinely understand the critical needs of our clients, the significance of these fundamental programs and through their actions, encourage others to support the entirety of JFS.  I invite everyone to join us on April 23 to honor their amazing efforts.”

Daskal and Caplan Recognized as CCFSA Family Champions

The CCFSA Board

JFS is proud to congratulate Mental Health Clinician Gayle Daskal, LMSW, and Board President Linda Caplan on receiving the Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies (CCFSA) Family Champions Award on Wednesday, May 22nd at the New Haven Lawn Club. Each year, the CCFSA recognizes a staff member and a board member from each of their participating family service agencies.  Both Gayle and Linda are well-deserving of this honor, and below you can find a little bit about them, as well as the reasons they received this award.


Gayle Daskal, LCSWMental Health Clinician

From left to right: DCF Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes, CEO Amy Rashba, LCSW, Mental Health Clinician Gayle Daskal, LCSW, Foster Care Manager Elaine Benevides, LCSW, and PPSP Team Leader Margaliet Ligtenstein, LCSW

When it comes to the definition of “Can Do,” Gayle Daskal’s name is embedded in the definition.  Gayle joined the JFSGNH staff three years ago as a per Diem clinician for the Permanency Placement Services Program. It was here that Gayle found herself performing therapeutic supervised visits with parents and children, providing clinical recommendations to DCF and the courts, and helping to stabilize pre-adoptive placements for children in the foster care system. She also showed her creative side while making Life Books for children within the DCF system of care and working with pre-adoptive families.  During the past three years, Gayle has shown that she is a hard-worker, is very reliable, and especially sensitive to client’s needs. She became a full time staff member one year ago.  As with any state funded program, contracts and programs themselves change and Gayle rolled with the changes and stepped up to create a new visitation program for families.  She has also taken on many new responsibilities including working with Holocaust Survivors in the Greater New Haven Area and meeting with clients for individual therapy sessions in the JFS Mental Health Clinic, including the child-parent psychotherapy.  Through the changes, Gayle has never lost her smile and cheerful disposition.  She is an inspiration to clients and JFS staff alike.

Gayle graduated with a Bachelors in arts from the University of Connecticut in 2012.  She earned her Master’s in Social Work, with a concentration in Clinical Social Work, Child Welfare, and Jewish Communal Service from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work in 2015.  She graduated as a member of the Phil Alpha Honor Society for Social Work: Tau Epsilon Chapter, and was awarded the Student Government Peer Mentor Award upon graduating as well as the United States Department of Health and Human Services – Yeshiva HRSA Grant Trainee for clinical practice with high risk adolescents.  She is trained in Child-Parent Psychotherapy, and the Circle of Security-Parenting Program.

Linda CaplanBoard President

President Linda Caplan with her husband Mark, and CEO Amy Rashba

Linda Caplan is an extraordinary and dedicated leader of the JFS Board.  She has worked tirelessly to help guide JFS in a very strong and positive direction.

She has unlimited passion, humor, and integrity and has a strategic vision that will greatly benefit JFS in the future.  Linda is an inspiration to our entire board and staff.

Linda became involved with JFS in 2013 as a volunteer in the JFS Food Pantry.  She joined the JFS Board of Directors in 2015.  Linda was named President of the Board in 2017.

Linda received her BS in Economics from SCSU and MBA from UNH.  She launched her first career working in procurement for large industrial companies.  She left the business world to raise her three children.  As Matt, Hanna and Leah went through the K’Tanim program at Temple Beth Sholom, Linda started her second career as a pre-school teacher.  Linda eventually retired from teaching and was able to more fully focus on volunteer roles with various organizations, including Hamden Hall and the Jewish High School of Connecticut.

Linda began her affiliation with JFS as a volunteer in the food pantry.  She later became a founding volunteer in the Food4Kids program, which provides nutritious weekend food for more than 350 New Haven children at risk of going hungry.  Linda lives in Wallingford with her husband, Mark, and a very pampered poodle, Martini.

From left to right: DCF Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes, LMSW, CEO Amy Rashba LCSW, Mental Health Clinician Gayle Daskal, LCSW, Board President Linda Caplan, and CCFSA Board President Barry Simon

Jewish Family Service to Honor Past Presidents and Launch Expansion of Aging Adults Program at Annual Spring Celebration

Living comfortably and independently as we age is something we all aspire to for ourselves and our loved ones. Jewish Family Service (JFS) works tirelessly serving the aging population in our community and assisting their family members and friends. However, more help is needed.  With a focus on empowering the individual, the Agency is developing a more comprehensive aging adult program to further meet the needs of this growing population in our community. But JFS cannot do it alone!

Kicking off this initiative is the JFS Spring Celebration to be held on Thursday, June 13th. The event will honor all 18 JFS past Board presidents who have had a great impact on our local community and who fully support the expansion of these vital services.  Those being honored are: Darcy McGraw Altman, Charlotte Brenner, Rabbi Gerald Brieger*, Richard Epstein, Jack Fast, Betsy Fiske, Cindy Papish Gerber, Steve Jacobs, Ivan M. Katz, Beverly Levy*, Moses M. Malkin*, Frederick S. Moss*, Herbert S. Newman, David Ottenstein, Hilda Podoloff*, Linda Randell, Carol Robbins, Rosalyn Sperling, Marvin Teplitzky*, Mary Lou Winnick, and Peter Zackin.

(*Of Blessed Memory).

As an individual’s physical strength and mental acuity decline, this complex part of life requires constant attention to well being.  “As an adult with an aging parent, I am acutely aware of the demands of caring for a parent and other aging family members. Grief from loss, managing chronic health issues, social isolation, depression and anxiety are very real issues that can be difficult to navigate alone,” notes Peter Zackin, Past President.  Often, family members must provide assistance to their loved ones. However, this level of care is not always feasible or affordable. Many times, families are unaware of and overwhelmed by the myriad of services available to help their loved ones. This increased need for comprehensive case management is the impetus behind the agency’s expanded initiative and is critical in assisting families in managing these transitions.

Aside from case management services, individuals may need emotional support.  “When I lost my husband of 52 years, I didn’t know where to turn.  Thanks to the professionals at JFS, I’ve learned to cope with my grief and I am starting to enjoy the things I used to do again,” recalls a woman who continues to utilize the Agency’s services.  JFS believes everyone should receive this type of care and emotional support so that individuals can live happily and comfortably. JFS licensed clinicians and case managers work diligently to develop individualized care plans and coordinate the essential services.

The need in the community is high, and in order to provide services to all who require them, JFS must grow its aging adult services. JFS social worker Liz Davenport, LMSW states We do try to help everyone that seeks our services; however, sometimes we are forced to prioritize those individuals with the greatest needs. The demand from the community for elderly services is growing, and we want to ensure that everyone receives quality care in a timely manner.”

In order to achieve the agency’s objective of developing its Aging Adult Program, it requires expanding the current social work program.  Chief Executive Officer, Amy G. Rashba, LCSW, articulates that the agency’s goal is to hire a full time licensed clinical social worker who is solely focused on the aging adult population.  As the baby boomers age, the need for case management will only continue to increase, and we want to make sure JFS is fully prepared to meet and exceed the community’s needs.”

For more information about the event, you can visit  We hope you can join us for the Spring Celebration to support our efforts to provide care for our aging adult community. For tickets or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Rachel Scolnic-Dobin at (203) 389-5599 ext. 109. In addition, if you or a loved one needs support or assistance, please call Aging Adult Case Manager Liz Davenport, LMSW, at (203) 389-5599 ext. 117.

Scolnic Dobin and Randell Recognized as CCFSA Family Champions

JFS Board Member Linda Randell; JFS Acting Executive Director Amy Rashba, LCSW, and JFS Staff Member, Rachel Scolnic Dobin, LMSW

Congratulations to JFS staff member Rachel Scolnic Dobin, LMSW, and board member, Linda Randell, on receiving the Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies (CCFSA) Family Champions award on Tuesday evening, June 5, 2018 at the New Haven Lawn Club.  Each year the CCFSA recognizes a staff member and a board member from each of their participating family service agencies.  Both Rachel and Linda are well-deserving of this honor and below are the reasons they received this award.

Rachel Scolnic Dobin, LMSW, Community Outreach Coordinator, is a pivotal member of the Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven, joining the agency in August 2010.   She consistently steps up to help in any and all ways to further JFS’ mission of helping make a difference in our client’s lives.  She passionately cares about her clients and is an excellent advocate for them.  Rachel’s work touches so many of JFS’s Programs and Services, however in particular the SOS Program and the Shalom Group.  Through SOS, Rachel helps people who are experiencing tough times get back on their feet through employment and career resources, case management or community resources.  In addition, she provides a friendly, educational and social environment for Jewish adults with developmental disabilities to find a community to connect with their heritage and each other through our Shalom Group.

Linda Randell began her journey with JFS in 2007 when she joined the JFS Board of Directors.  Over the past 11 years, she has served on various committees, and as Vice President from 2011-2013 followed by President of the Board from 2013-2014.

Ms. Randell stands out for her unfailing willingness to go the extra mile for JFS whether it’s serving as a Board member, her kindness and generosity to both staff and board, or her keen sense in interpreting policies, procedures and issues with governance.  She is currently is Chair of the JFS Governance Committee and Co-Chair of the Personnel Committee.

Ms. Randell also currently serves on the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association, where she chairs the governance committee, and on the Boards of the Towers and the Gateway Community College Foundation.  She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, with honors and high distinction, and received her J.D. from the Yale Law School.  Ms. Randell was the first woman partner at Wiggin and Dana, where she headed the regulated industries practice group, and was senior vice president and general counsel of a New York Stock Exchange-listed public utility holding company.  Ms. Randell currently speaks on governance, culture and ethics.

JFS Staff and Board and guests at the event: Front, Rabbi Benjamin Scolnic and Dorene Scolnic; JFS Board Members Cindy Papish Gerber and Sandy Friedman. Back row: Board Members Linda Randell, and Ros Sperling; JFS Staff Rachel Scolnic Dobin, LMSW; Amy Rashba, LCSW, Acting Executive Director;  and Mara Ginsberg, JFS Volunteer Coordinator.

Joe Adler honored at 2018 Spring Celebration

JFS would like to thank all of the generous sponsors, supporters and attendees for helping make our 2018 Spring Celebration honoring Joe Adler a success!   The Spring Celebration, which took place on Sunday, May 6, 2018 at the JCC in Woodbridge, was attended by over 250 people.

Master of Ceremony Joel Sachs, JFS Board Member, introduced such esteemed speakers as Rabbi Herbert Brockman of Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden, Joel Karp, long-time friend of Joe Adler, and Amy Rashba, JFS’s Acting Executive Director.

Rachel Scolnic Dobin, Director of the JFS Social Work Outreach Services Program (SOS), discussed Joe Adler’s vision and the founding of the original program nearly 8 years ago.  The night included live music provided by Tim Moran Woodwinds, testimonials from beneficiaries of the SOS Program and a history of the extensive contributions made by Joe Adler to the Jewish community, Greater New Haven community and Israel.

Proceeds from the JFS Spring Celebration will benefit the SOS Program – which offers assistance with vocational and employment services, case management, financial and food assistance.

Many thanks to our corporate sponsor Morgan Stanley and to all our generous contributors and attendees.  For a list of major contributors, click here.
To view the photo album from the evening, click here.

Joe Adler To Be Honored at JFS Spring Celebration May 6th

Please join us at the Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven Spring Celebration as we honor Joe Adler, founding member and inspiration for the JFS Social Work Outreach Services (“SOS”) Program.  The event will take place on Sunday, May 6, 2018 at 6 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven, 360 Amity Road, Woodbridge, CT.


The JFS “SOS” Program serves as a safety net for the community.  “SOS” offers food assistance and social, vocational, outreach and financial services which make a positive impact on the lives of community members facing extreme hardships.



To purchase tickets for the event or to become a sponsor, and/or make a donation, please visit or you may call JFS at (203) 389-5599 x 102.

Your support of the Spring Celebration will benefit the JFS “SOS” Program.

Senu and Fiske Named 2016 Family Champions

FULL PHOTOCongratulations to Princess Senu, BSW, Foster Care Case Manager, and Betsy Fiske, long time member of the JFS Board of Directors and Past President, on recently being named the 2016 Family Champions for Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven. The pair were celebrated by the Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies during a reception June 9th at the New Haven Lawn Club. This award recognizes one staff member and one board member who have gone above and beyond. Please continue reading for the bios of each champion.

Princess Senu – Princess Senu started working at JFS 3 ½ years ago. As a Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) Case Manager, she has worked compassionately and effectively with children, adolescents and foster parents. Princess connects well with not only the young children and teenagers, but the families as well – and she continuously meets the many obstacles that have come her way with patience and calm – including challenging families, unusual situations and emergencies. Princess offers a wide range of talents and a great deal of flexibility to the agency as she also works in the Permanency Planning Services Program, in which the job responsibilities, service goals with clients and the paperwork are very different from those of TFC. Princess provides services to some of the most challenging clients at our agency and she does so with the gentlest of approaches. When she clocks in at 9 a.m. she never knows what the day will bring or when the day will end. However, through it all, she maintains her sense of commitment, and especially her sense of humor. She is a team player, willing to help out wherever she is needed. Princess is currently working toward her Masters in Social Work degree at Fordham University. She may be our “Princess” but most important, she is a champion to our children and families and she is now our JFS 2016 Family Champion!

Betsy Fiske – Being a Board member of a non-profit agency is a big commitment. From regular board meetings to special committees, events and fundraising – many volunteer hours are expended. Now imagine just how many hours this would amount to over the past 27 years in which Betsy Fiske has been a vital part of JFS. Betsy joined the JFS Board of Directors back in 1989 at the request of her neighbor and has never looked back. She has served in many capacities, including chairing the Fund Development Committee, the Strategic Planning Committee, the Executive Search Committee, as Vice President, and eventually serving as the JFS Board President from 1996-1998. Even after her presidency, she continued to serve by representing JFS every year on important agency committees and special projects.

She is currently serving again as an active Board Director and is the Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. In addition to her current board duties, Betsy also volunteers in the JFS Food Pantry where she greets clients, schedules appointments, answers phone calls and provides initial intakes of emergency clients. Betsy is always willing to go that extra mile to help out in whatever capacity she can, whether it be JFS Board duties or pantry help. She is empathetic, understanding and connects with clients, JFS staff and board members alike.

Betsy was born and raised in New Haven. She is a former printer and modern dancer. She has chaired the National Association of Litho Clubs Foundation for the past 35 years, awarding graphic arts scholarships to high school seniors across the country. She has a daughter, three step children, 2 grandchildren and 5 step grandchildren. In her free time, Betsy enjoys yoga and meditation and is learning to play bridge.

JFSGNH Honors Vines and Scolnics During Spring Event

Over 260 people turned out to honor Rabbi Benjamin and Dorene Scolnic of Hamden, and Hyla and Barry Vine of Woodbridge, at Jewish Family Service of New Haven’s 75th anniversary fundraising event.  The event, held March 26 at Temple Beth Sholom, was a tribute to their lifetime of contributions to the community and especially to JFSGNH.  Proceeds from the event went to the JFSGNH Emergency Assistance Fund, which serves families in crisis. Pictured (left to right): Barry and Hyla Vine, JFSGNH Board President Cindy Papish Gerber, JFSGNH Executive Director Jonathan Garfinkle, and Rabbi Benjamin and Dorene Scolnic.