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

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

JFS Names Brian Prousky Interim CEO

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven, Inc. is pleased to announce the appointment of Brian Prousky as Interim Chief Executive Officer.

Prousky will use his expertise to guide the agency through this transition of leadership and post pandemic renewal.

Most recently, Brian was the Executive Director of Jewish Family and Child Service of Greater Toronto. In this role, he was instrumental in developing programs and partnerships that improved the lives of vulnerable and at-risk individuals and families. Brian passionately represented the agency, its service users and the broader community on various local, national and international forums, including on the Board of Directors of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies. He solidified the agency’s financial position while expanding programing to serve emerging needs. This included reimagining and rebuilding the agency’s poverty reduction program so that it contained a constellation of holistic supports built around the Social Determinants of Health, achieving quality outcomes for those who, quite sadly, experienced all the deleterious impacts of poverty.

In 2020, the agency was recognized internationally with a best practice award for its service delivery in this area. Most notably, Brian built an organizational culture that was transparent and collaborative – one that was open to renewal, re-imagination, agility, adaptability, all of which served the agency well during a time of great uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Prior to leading Jewish Family and Child Service of Greater Toronto, Brian was the Director of Services at the Durham Children’s Aid Society and York Region Children’s Aid Society, two large child welfare agencies.

Brian was a founding member of the Durham Region Intimate-Partner Violence Empowerment Network (DRIVEN), a collaborative, collocated program (involving seven on-site partner agencies) serving women and children who have experienced domestic violence.

Brian was also a founding member of the Regional Adoption Program for the Children’s Aid Societies of Durham, Kawartha Haliburton and Highland Shores. From 1999-2015, Brian delivered province-wide training to child protection managers in the areas of Risk Assessment, Differential Response, Performance Management and Transfer of Learning. Brian has a particular interest in organizational change management, both from a strategic and cultural perspective.

Throughout his career, he has been instrumental in leading change management processes where staffing and financial resources have been redeployed to increase sustainability and enhance service delivery. 

Brian may be reached at

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.


Throughout the entire month of November, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven’s Food Pantry 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 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 you may ask the Amity Stop &Shop Florist for assistance.

Bloomin’ 4 Good Bouquets Benefit JFS During August!

Throughout the entire month of August, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven’s Food Pantry 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. Purchase a bouquet as a pick me up, a thank you, 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 you may ask the Amity Stop &Shop Florist for assistance.

School Supply Drive For Families in Need

JFSGNH is collecting new school supplies for children and teens (between the ages of 4-17) whose families use our agency services.  Items currently needed include:   one-subject, wide ruled notebooks; Multi-subject  notebooks (both wide rule and college rule):  two-pocket folders; No. 2 pencils; pens blue or black; child safe scissors; colored pencils; child safe pencil sharpeners; water based markers; white glue sticks, erasers; loose-leaf notebook paper; construction paper; highlighters, etc. Donations may be dropped off at the JFS Food Pantry, 1440 Whalley Avenue on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.  If you are an organization, business or school and you would like to conduct a collection to assist us, please contact or call the Pantry at 203-397-0796.  Please note that in September we have days off for the high Holidays. We highly recommend calling the Pantry to make sure someone will be there or to schedule a drop off day and time. Thanks in advance for helping our kids to get ready for a great school year ahead!

Journey Through Grief Virtual Support Group – New Day and Time!

If you are an older adult who is grieving the loss of a spouse or significant other and would like support and guidance at this time, the Aging Adult Program at Jewish Family Service would like to help. Our virtual support group will meet on Zoom the second and fourth Monday of every month at 1:30 p.m. Come talk about what you are experiencing in a supportive and safe environment. If interested, please reach out to Andrea Joseph, LCSW at or 860-800-9494.  Upcoming dates are – August 9thand  23rd; September 13th and 27th; October 11th and 25th

Mental Health Post COVID – We’re Here for You

As restrictions are lifted, we are hearing more about the effects of the past year due to social isolation, unemployment/economic losses, working from home while caring for children/other family members and personal health issues.   According to Psychiatric Times these stressors contributed to the fact that 40.9 % of adults surveyed reported at least 1 adverse mental or behavioral health issue related to the past year.  Of these adults, more than 30% reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. These symptoms won’t just go away when restrictions lift. Anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression can have lingering effects – especially without intervention.  JFSGNH can help you emerge from the past year of fear, anxiety, panic and isolation.  Currently, JFSGNH has openings in both our Children’s and our Adult Outpatient Mental Health Clinic  We have a sliding fee scale and can even work with those who are unable to meet their deductible.  Give us a call today at 203-389-5599, ext. 115 to start your journey toward wellness.