High Holiday Food Drives Stock Pantry Shelves

Many thanks to our wonderful local synagogues: Or Shalom, Congregation Mishkan Israel, Temple Emanuel, Temple Beth Shalom, and B’nai Jacob for their High Holiday food collections. Combined, these five synagogues collected nearly 3,000 lbs. of non-perishable food items – which helped stock our shelves with a great selection of items.

This year, the High holidays came during a time when food prices and food procurement are affecting suppliers, stores and shoppers. Donations of non-perishable food and monetary donations help the Pantry be able to serve those who are hunger/food insecure.

The JFS Food pantry staff and volunteers have received many positive comments from pantry visitors regarding the variety of foods available to them. The Food Pantry distributes on average 6,000 lbs. of food monthly to those who are food insecure in our local community.

For more information about food donations, follow this link.

2022 High Holiday Food Donation Guidelines

With the High Holiday upon us, we would like to remind donors about our non-perishable foods donation guidelines. All food should be newly purchased.  Please avoid oversized containers and packaging.  All items should be checked to verify they are not past their use by/best buy or expiration date.   Please avoid all glass containers which can break in transport or during processing.  Here are the most requested foods: 

  • Boxed or small tub oatmeal, Steel cut oatmeal, farina, cream of wheat or cream of rice.
  • Cereal  – all types
  • Canned Fruits or fruit cups  (especially those in water or light syrup/no sugar added) such as applesauce, mandarin oranges, pineapple (all types), pears, peaches, fruit cups.
  • Boxed Pasta (angel hair, fettuccini, elbows, shells, bowties, rigatoni, orzo, pastina, ditalini, penne, ziti, bagged egg noodles, linguine)
  • Granola, fruit or protein bars
  • Kid juice boxes 
  • Soups and broths (cans and boxed)

Also, for health reasons we cannot accept any open/partial containers or boxes, repackaged items; or homemade items – this includes items without a label. If you have any questions, please contact Sandy Hagan at shagan@jfsnh.org or 203-397-0796.

JFSGNH Welcomes Daisy Abbott As Mental Health Clinical Director

JFS of Greater New Haven is thrilled to welcome Daisy Abbott, LCSW as the new Mental Health Clinical Director. Daisy comes with over twenty years’ experience providing therapy to  a wide variety of people from various socio-economic, cultural, ethnic, educational and other diversified backgrounds.

In her new position, Daisy looks forward to leading JFS in community-based solutions that make real change in a diverse and ever fluid environment. The idea is not only to provide counseling, but also advocacy, solution-focused and crisis intervention, case management, and discharge planning. Community, the value of tradition, culture and diversity are crucial in both Daisy’s clinical and personal practice. 

Daisy’s therapeutic approach stems from a strength based and humanistic position based on the understanding that people are doing the best that they can, want to improve, and are capable of change. She incorporates a variety of interventions that include cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, trauma-informed approaches, parent management training, and solution-focused therapies. Daisy works with individuals, families and couples. Her career highlights include Director Community Based Services at Community Health Center Inc.  Before joining JFS of Greater New Haven, Daisy worked in private practice providing telehealth therapy pre and post pandemic.

A Connecticut native with her Bachelors of Science from Southern CT State University and her Masters in Social Work from Fordham University, Daisy’s history demonstrates her dedication in service. She volunteered at the Coordinating Council for Children as a Rape Crisis and Domestic Violence Counselor and has received certifications in Forensic Interviewing of Children and Clinical Issues in Adoption.  Her expertise in electronic health records, program structure and implementation will assist the team as they move forward to launch Care Logic (an electronic health care record system). Daisy lives in Greater New Haven with her son. When she’s not working she enjoys yoga, gardening, and hiking. Please feel free to welcome Daisy personally at: dabbott@jfsnh.org.

School Supply Drive to Help Local Families

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven Food Assistance Program is collecting newly purchased school supplies for children and teens (between the ages of 4-18) whose families use the Food Pantry.  Items currently needed include:   Spiral one-subject, wide ruled notebooks; Spiral multi-subject notebooks (both wide rule and college rule):  two-pocket folders; pens blue or black; No. 2 pencils; child safe scissors; colored pencils; child safe pencil sharpeners; thick and thin water based markers, white glue sticks, large erasers; loose-leaf notebook paper; 2 inch binders, construction paper; drawing pads, Post-It notes; highlighters, etc.

Donations may be dropped off at the JFS Food Pantry, 1440 Whalley Avenue on Wednesday and Thursdays between 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Additional drop off times are available by appointment by calling 203-397-0796.  If you order through Amazon Smile, you can also designate JFS of Greater New Haven as a recipient agency for cash back. Online orders can be shipped directly to the JFS Food Pantry, 1440 Whalley Avenue, New Haven, CT 06515. If you are an organization, business or school and you would like to conduct a collection to assist us, please contact shagan@jfsnh.org or call the Pantry at 203-397-0796.  Thanks in advance for helping our kids to get ready for a great school year ahead!

Bloomin’ 4 Good Bouquets Benefit JFS Food Pantry During June

Throughout the entire month of June, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven’s Food Pantry & Food Assistance Program will receive a $1 donation for every $10.99 Bloomin’ 4 Good Bouquet with the red circle sticker purchased at the Stop & Shop located at 112 Amity Road in New Haven. It’s a great month to purchase a bouquet to honor the graduate, celebrate Pride, show “Thanks” to family or friends, or as pick me up, or just because. Flowers can make someone’s day, spread smiles and brighten up a room. Now they can feed the hungry, too! It’s as simple as that! The Bloomin’ 4 Good Bouquets with the red circle sticker are located in the floral section of the store, or near the greeting card aisle or you may ask the Amity Stop &Shop Florist for assistance.

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven Names Alissa Wurtzel New CEO

May 31, 2022

The Board of Directors of Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven is delighted to announce the appointment of Alissa Wurtzel as their new CEO.

For the past twenty years, Alissa has spent her professional life improving the social and emotional welfare of individuals and families, most recently as the Clinical Director at Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven. In that role, Alissa is leading the agency’s implementation of a new electronic health record system and has reimagined and restructured a number of critical programs serving the most vulnerable in the community. Working with the agency’s leadership team, Alissa has helped ensure their post-pandemic roadmap includes enhancing timely and accessible services for seniors, Holocaust Survivors and their caregivers, those struggling with mental health issues, those in need of emergency assistance, food and/or housing support.

During her career, she has worked as the Director of Psychological Health for the Connecticut Army National Guard as well as a Senior Clinician with Community Health Center Inc. Before joining JFS of Greater New Haven, Alissa worked as a medical social worker for the Hartford Health Care Hospice Program, empowering families with the education, materials, and access to spiritual, religious, and cultural supports they needed to care for their loved ones at the end of their lives.

A Connecticut native, Alissa earned both her BA and Master’s Degree at UCONN. At school, throughout her career, and now at JFS of Greater New Haven, Alissa has worked diligently and passionately to ensure equity and inclusion are cornerstones of her practice and that people of diverse backgrounds, especially those who are traditionally underserved, feel welcome and supported whenever accessing and receiving care.  Please feel free to welcome Alissa personally at: awurtzel@jfsnh.org

JFSGNH Welcomes New Mental Health Director and Aging Adult Coordinator

Alissa Wurtzel, LCSW, joins Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven as the new Clinical Mental Health Director for both the Child and Adult Outpatient clinics.  She brings with her an eclectic skill set of evidence-based treatment modalities and experience with diverse populations.  Serving the mental health and behavioral needs of Connecticut residents for the past 20 years, Alissa is most looking forward to weaving together the past, current, and future needs of the JFS community.

Experienced with individual, family, and group therapy, Alissa has worked with clients as young as 4 and as old as 107.  Alissa feels her strength is in teaching people about the impact that stressors and stimuli have on us as human beings, and she encourages individuals and groups to use their intuition and uniqueness to identify solutions.

Before joining JFS, Alissa’s specialty areas were in trauma informed care, EMDR, medical social work, Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), and co-occurring disorders.  Alissa is grateful for previous experiences with community health clinics, children and families using animal assisted therapy, the Connecticut Army National Guard, and hospice patients and their families.  She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Connecticut.  Alissa can be reached at 203-389-5599, ext. 117 or awurtzel@jfsnh.org

Elanit Kayne Linder, LMSW, recently joined JFS as the Aging Adult and Community Outreach Coordinator. “I’m invigorated to be joining JFS at a time when the geriatric program is expanding as are the geriatric needs of our community. I look forward to rolling out the JFS Care Navigators Care Management Program,” Linder expressed.   In her new position, Elanit will lead this comprehensive program, which provides needs and psychosocial assessments, care planning, advocacy, linkage to community resources, weekly check –in calls and collaboration with family members. 

Elanit earned her Bachelor’s degree at TISCH School of the Arts at New York University and her Master’s Degree at Columbia University School of Social Work. Elanit’s prior older adult career experience includes assisted living memory care director, director of recreation, and clinical community liaison in various facilities.

Elainit is committed to program development that empowers individuals and communities to their best quality of life in their own vision. She is dedicated to intergenerational programming, cultivating and developing long-term partnerships while supporting clients and families.  Elanit can be reached at 203-389-5599, ext. 114 or elinder@jfsnh.org.

CEO of Jewish Family Service to Retire

November 19, 2021

by MiriYam Judd, Shalom New Haven Writer 

Amy Rashba  first  walked  into  the  Jewish Family Service  (JFS)  offices almost  three  decades  ago—a  27-year-old social  work student  two years into  her  master’s  degree  at Southern  Connecticut  State  University. She was an intern, just  there  for  her  field  placement.  Now, over  35  years later, she  is finally walking out. 

Rashba’s  commitment  and  dedication  to  the  Jewish community of  Greater  New Haven  cannot be understated.  In her  time at  JFS, she  has headed  a number  of  initiatives, from  the  mental  health  program  to  the  aging  adult   program.  Rashba is best  known for  her  work with adoptions, having  run  and   transformed  the  infant  adoption program  during  her  years with the  organization. “One  of  my favorite  things I did here  was start the  Stars of  David program,” Rashba  said, referring  to  the  social  group  for  Jewish families  brought  together through  adoption.  “It’s  a really  incredible,  beautiful  thing to see,  families who have adopted  all coming together  to  celebrate  each  other. It means a lot for  a child to look  around  the  room  and  realize,  ‘I’m not the  only  one  with a family like  this.” 

Even  though  Rashba  hasn’t  run  the  adoption  program  since her  appointment  as CEO in 2018, she  still receives  cards,  photographs  and  updates  from families she  worked  with. But programs  and  initiatives  pale  in comparison  to  what some describe  as Rashba’s  most  important  contributions  to  JFS. 

“When I think about  Amy running JFS these  past  several  years,” said Heni Schwartz, a social  worker  at  JFS since 1986,  “the  thing that  jumps out  at  me  the most  is the  word, caring. Caring for  the  agency’s  health  and  vibrancy, caring for the  clients  that  we  serve, caring for  the  staff, caring for  the  Jewish community, and caring for  the  community  at  large.” 

Schwartz noted  Rashba’s  eagerness  to expand  programs to  serve  more  people  in need  and  her  receptiveness  to the needs  of  any given  population  among  her  most  impressive accomplishments during  her  time at  JFS. “We  were  lucky  to have her,” Schwartz said. This was a common description of Rashba among  her  coworkers. 

Sydney Perry, former  CEO of  the  Jewish Federation  of Greater  New Haven, explained the  difficult  position one  is in when they go from  being someone’s coworker to their superior. Rashba worked at JFS for nearly 30 years before being named CEO in 2018, interrupted  only  by two short moves to Israel in the early 90’s. Rashba, Perry explained, handled this transition with grace and poise. 

“It’s a tough situation to  be  in, the  switch from being someone’s colleague to being their boss,” Perry said. “But it wasn’t tough for Amy, because people always knew they could trust her. She has so much humility and empathy, and she always wants to listen to what people have to  say. She is a natural leader.” More than just a leader, Perry explained, Rashba has always been and will always be  a social worker at heart. 

“No matter  her  role  at  JFS, leader  or  not, Amy was always a social worker. She always cared,  she  was always so  dedicated,”  Perry explained.  “She never  let ego  get in the  way of  her  work. And  she  brought  great  people  in to  help her, because  that’s  what  great  leaders do.  Even  when she’s not there, they will be.” 

Ilene  Rosalimsky Bronen,  who serves  as president  of  JFS, explained  the  profound  impact Rashba has had  on the community  and  the  legacy  she  leaves  as she  departs. “Amy identified the need  for and started  the  Shalom Group in 1987. She was responsible  for  leading our  Adoption Program. The positive  and  emotional  impact  on  these  families will  continue,” Rosalimsky Bronen  said. “Her  leadership as CEO exemplifies integrity and a work ethic which we  are all grateful  for. She has been a passionate advocate for JFS clients and our  programs,  and  we will miss her very much.”

As  Rashba’s  time at  JFS comes to a close, her gratitude and impact on the Greater New Haven Jewish community only continues  to grow. “My entire  professional  career has been  spent  at  JFS,” Rashba  explained. “I was 27 and unmarried.  All sorts  of  amazing  life  events  have  occurred during  my time here. When I think about  the career  I was able  to  have  at  JFS, I will  be forever  thankful, to both the  people I worked with and  the  people who came to me for help. It’s been the privilege of a lifetime.”


Hadassah Magazine – Living on the edge of food insecurity

The November/December 2021 Issue of Hadassah Magazine features an article that mentions the Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven Food Pantry. Reporter Cathryn J. Prince’s “I Never Thought I’d be Needing This” – Living on the Edge of Food Insecurity explores food insecurity nationwide and visited the Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven Food Pantry to talk about its food assistance program.