News

Important Coronavirus Update

Important Coronavirus Update

According to the CDC and Health officials, social distancing is seen as the most effective means of slowing the spread and reducing the impact of COVID-19 among our employees, volunteers, clients and the general community.

Due to the volume of traffic into our office, Jewish Family Service is taking the following steps in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) until further notice.

The JFS office is currently closed and the staff of JFS is currently working remotely. The best way to contact staff members is via email or voicemail.

JFS continues to diligently strategize how to best continue to help serve the needs of our clients and community at this time of need and yet keep all safe. We are so appreciative of your support and will keep you updated via email, Facebook and our website as we establish additional plans to serve our community. If you have any questions, please contact Amy Rashba at arashba@jfsnh.org

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.”

JFS Welcomes 3 New Employees!

Chief Executive Officer Amy Rashba, LCSW is excited to announce that Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven has welcomed several new staff members.  Andrea Joseph, LCSW, Hannah Leiterman, LCSW, and Maria Gaudet, MSW all bring a diverse set of skills and experience to the agency.

JFS welcomes New Haven native Andrea Joseph, LCSW as the Coordinator for Aging Adult Services. Andrea has over 20 years of experience in behavioral health, most recently focusing on the aging population.  Andrea earned her Master’s in Social Work from The University of Connecticut.  She began her career as a psychiatric social worker at Connecticut Mental Health Center of West Haven where she worked for ten years.  After raising her two daughters, she returned to the field in 2009 providing therapy to older adults.  She was recently employed at Masonicare’s Behavioral Health Clinic as well as other consulting agencies for nursing homes and assisted living environments.  Andrea also has strong ties to the New Haven Jewish community.  She attended Hebrew Day School, was a member of The Westville Synagogue and her parents were the owners of Gutkin Kosher Caterers.  Andrea is excited to “be back home” and is grateful to have the opportunity to expand the Aging Adult Services at JFS.

Hannah Leiterman, LCSW joins the JFS staff as the Mental Health Clinical Director.  Hannah earned her Master’s Degree from the University of Chicago. Non-profit work has always been important to her, as she spent two years in Armenia as a member of the Peace Corps.  Hannah moved to New Haven in 2006 where she completed post-graduate fellowships at Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and the West Haven Veteran’s Hospital (VA). She went on to work in psychiatric emergency services at Yale, and outpatient psychiatry at the VA.  Prior to joining JFS, Hannah worked at St. Raphael’s in the emergency and maternity departments.  Hannah is excited to build the mental health program, having seen firsthand in the emergency rooms the need for more social support in our community.

Maria Gaudet, MSW joins the JFS team as the Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) Recruiter. Maria earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Connecticut. She brings a wealth of experience as she previously worked at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and understands the issues facing children involved in the foster care system. Maria hopes to bring an awareness to these issues and is excited about forming new community connections as she recruits more foster parents.

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
  • FOOD4KIDS
  • 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 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.

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 https://www.endhungerct.org/summer-meals/ 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