Santa Rosa synagogue becomes hub for Jewish aid, shelter for bereft evacuees
  • JFCS in the News

J Weekly

By Dan Pine

The devastating wildfires in Napa and Sonoma counties this week have caused death, injuries and destruction for miles around — but they have also brought out the best in people wanting to lend a hand. Synagogues, Jewish agencies and scores of individual volunteers have lined up to assist families evacuated from the danger zones, some of whom have lost their homes to the flames.

woman comforting mother child at synagogue

Santa Rosa’s Congregation Shomrei Torah has emerged as a hub for that Jewish aid. Since Oct. 9 the Reform synagogue has served as a command post, trauma center, soup kitchen, overnight shelter and kids’ day camp for displaced community members. Safely distant from the fire lines, the synagogue has welcomed Jewish community professionals, therapists and volunteers eager to help their affected North Bay neighbors, including those whose homes are gone.

“Monday night we had 20 people sleeping in the synagogue,” said Shomrei Torah Associate Rabbi Stephanie Kramer. “A lot of people still don’t know if their homes are standing or not. Twenty-five [congregants] have lost their homes already. Our town’s on fire and it’s absolutely devastating.”

Among the agencies responding to the crisis are Jewish Family and Children’s Services, the Jewish Federations in San Francisco and the East Bay, and IsraAid, the Israeli international aid organization that just opened a Bay Area office last fall.

Read the full story here >

 


Posted by Admin on October 11, 2017
Can you please talk, not text? Parenting the Instagram generation
  • JFCS in the News
  • Parenting
  • Youth

The Christian Science Monitor

by Michael B. Farrell and Jessica Mendoza

Can kids be encouraged to let go of the virtual world – occasionally – and engage in the real one? Can they stop posting selfies long enough to think of someone else? The answer is yes. But there are bound to be some anxious moments for parents along the way.

Havi Wolfson Hall

Havi Wolfson Hall, LCSW, JFCS’ Child and Adolescent Therapist, discusses parenting in The Christian Science Monitor

Jake Lee, a tanned California teenager in baggy shorts and a T-shirt, is lounging on the floor of his parents’ midcentury home. They live in a suburban Silicon Valley enclave of tech workers, cyber-savvy kids, and the occasional Google self-driving car that whirs past along pristine, eucalyptus-lined streets. He flicks through his iPhone, his fingers moving with the speed and dexterity of a jazz pianist, as he answers the sporadic text message.

“I’m on social media every waking moment of my life,” he says, with no particular pride. “I could be, like, Snapchatting and Instagram messaging the same person at the same time.”

Read the full story here >


Posted by Admin on August 13, 2017
Dr. Anita Friedman Reclaims History in Father’s Shtetl
  • Education
  • Holocaust
  • JFCS in the News
  • Youth

Twelve years ago, JFCS Executive Director, Dr. Anita Friedman, visited her father’s ancestral village in the Polish countryside. Since then she has returned to Gniewoszow multiple times and joins thousands of Jews who have traveled to Poland since the fall of communism. Friedman has built relationships with the local community and helped rededicate its Jewish cemetery as she grapples with her family’s lost homeland. She is also teaching teens in the Bay Area about this important history.

Anita addressing youths

JFCS Executive Director, Dr. Anita Friedman, teaching teens from JFCS’ summer internship program about her family’s lost homeland in Poland.

JFCS is the leader in Holocaust education in Northern California, and thousands of students each year learn about the Holocaust and other genocides through the JFCS Holocaust Center.

Additionally, teens who participate in JFCS’ YouthFirst program also receive Holocaust education. Friedman recently taught teens participating in the YouthFirst summer internships about her family’s history in Gniewoszow, Poland.

The summer interns first had the chance to think about how their families’ traditions have shaped who they are as people, and then Friedman shared her family’s experiences during the Holocaust and her powerful story about returning to Gniewoszow. The students were able to see very clearly that her family history has directly informed her core values.

Read the full J Weekly story about Dr. Friedman reclaiming her history in Poland >

Anita Friedman with youth

Friedman answering students’ questions about her return to her family’s village in Poland after the Holocaust.

 


Posted by Admin on August 9, 2017
Bay Area Jewish leaders condemn adoption inequality for same-sex Israeli couples
  • Adoption
  • JFCS in the News

J Weekly

By Rob Gloster

Bay Area rabbis, political and community leaders are among 200 Jewish individuals and organizations across North America condemning the Israeli government’s “callousness and ignorance” in making it harder for same-sex couples to adopt children.

Demonstration

The public letter released on July 25 was organized by A Wider Bridge, the San Francisco-based organization that supports the LGBT community in Israel. Signatories included Hillel International, leaders of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Union of Reform Judaism, prominent Jewish LGBT leaders and over 60 U.S. rabbis.

Fifty-four local Jewish leaders signed the letter, including state Sen. Scott Wiener, former state Sen. Mark Leno, the CEOs of the San Francisco-based and East Bay Jewish Federations, URJ chair Daryl Messinger, Jewish Family and Children’s Services executive director Anita Friedman, and a number of Bay Area rabbis, including Rabbi Mychal Friedman of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, San Francisco’s historically LGBT congregation.

Read the full story here >


Posted by Admin on July 27, 2017
‘This was your town’—JFCS leader reclaims history in father’s Polish shtetl
  • Holocaust
  • JFCS in the News

J Weekly

By Sue Barnett

Gniewoszow, PolandTwelve years ago, brought her family from San Francisco to Poland to visit the ancestral village of her father. It would be her first time in Gniewoszow, one of the many towns dotting the Polish countryside where Jews made up a majority of the population before the war—and none after.

Anita Friedman in Poland

More than 200 of her relatives had lived here. All were killed in the Holocaust in death camps like Treblinka and Auschwitz. Only her father made it out alive.

Friedman, executive director of S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services, wanted to share the stories her father had told her about this place—a place where several generations of the family had lived, loved and flourished. Though she knew that signs of Jewish life had disappeared, she planned to show her husband and three sons where the synagogue had stood and where her father spent summer days with his friends along the Vistula River eating cheese and fresh pears.

Friedman anticipated the 2005 trip would be a nostalgic, bittersweet journey to honor her father’s memory. What she didn’t expect was to be chased out of town.

Read the full story here >

 


Posted by Admin on July 27, 2017
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