Community’s Caregivers Group

The Towers at Tower Lane and Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven are pleased to offer a new group for
our community’s caregivers, funded by the Jewish Federation.

Do you care for a loved one or family member?
Do you find yourself isolated from others because of your role?
Join us for meaningful time together as we take a break and recharge.
Learn how to find balance in your life as you support your loved one.
Facilitated by a licensed social worker.

This group meets once a month on Wednesdays:
November 13, December 11, January 8, and February 12
5:30–6:30 pm • Kosher nosh provided

To RSVP, please contact Liz Davenport, LMSW at (203) 389-5599 ext. 117.

Support the Friends Campaign

By donating to the JFS Annual Friends Campaign, you are helping us continue the following community programs and services:

  • Adoption
  • Adults with Developmental Disabilities
  • Aging Adult Services
  • Child Permanency Programs
  • Community Outreach Services
  • Counseling and Family Support
  • Energy Assistance
  • Food Pantry and Nutritional Health Center
  • Foster Care
  • Jewish wellness and Healing Center
  • Ken’s Closet
  • Parent Education Program
  • Vocational Services

Together, we can directly impact the lives of individuals and families in the Greater New Haven community.  Since 1841, JFS has made a difference.  Now, we ask for your help to continue our mission to serve and assist those facing times of urgent need.  Please help by clicking here and choosing “Friends Campaign” as your designation of gift. We thank you in advance for your help.

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  You can also visit the agency’s website at 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.

Free Summer Meals

If you have a school-aged student or know someone who does who will be in need of breakfast and lunch this summer, simply text “FOOD” to 877877 and receive a message back with a location closest to where they can get free summer meals. You can also log in to and type in a zip code and it will list the locations in the immediate area. Even if you aren’t in need, someone else’s kids are. No child deserves to go hungry, ever.

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

JFS in Need of Foster Parents

At any given day, there are over 4,000 youth in Connecticut in need of a home, and the number will continue to increase as foster families dwindle. These youth, who lack the nurturing relationships that is crucial to their development, deserve an equal opportunity at a successful life, and sometimes their only hope is the love and care of a foster family. As National Foster Care Month arrives, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven desperately seeks families and individuals of all backgrounds who are interested in providing the necessary care for a youth in need.

Foster parenting is not for everyone, but we believe that if more people spread the word regarding our mission, then it would help us find more families; those who have the time, care and patience it takes to parent one of these youths. There are families and individuals out there who have lots of love to share. We just need you to help us reach them.

Although they might not show it, every youth that is placed in our program needs a solid support system. It is our goal to place these youth in a stable home, so we will work with you every step of the way. We get to know all of our families prior to placement, and ensure that the needs of the youth match the strengths of your parenting style. We provide extensive training, and our case workers are on call ready to assist in urgent situations. The stipend supports household stability, so that we can help create a bright future for these deserving individuals.

If you would like to hear more about the program, attend an informational session, or have someone you would like to refer, please reach out as we look forward to your correspondence. Contact our Foster Care Team Leader Elaine Benevides, LCSW, at 203-389-5599 ext. 115 or People of all religions, races, sexual orientation or cultural backgrounds are welcome to apply as the youth come from varied backgrounds.

Thank you,

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven, Inc

Help is Always Available

With the recent tragedies in Parkland, Florida and Newtown, CT, we remind our community that help is available. You are not alone! Please refer to the links below:

Crisis Resources

  • For a life-threatening situation, dial 911 immediately.
  • For a crisis or in case someone is experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts dial 211in CT.  Outside of CT, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at
    1-800-273 TALK (8255).
  • If someone is uncomfortable talking on the phone, she/he can also use the crisis text line by texting 741741 or use the Lifeline Chat online at:

Informational Resources

JFS Licensed Mental Health Clinicians are available for non-crisis counseling. Please call Shelly Bheer, LCSW, Mental Health Clinical Director at 203.389.5599 ext. 114 or email at


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.