Allies at the Ready: How Quick Thinking Helped Build a Family Through Adoption
  • LGBTQ+
  • Adoption
  • Programs and Services
  • News and Impact
  • Stories & Testimonials
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by Michelle Nobriga, JD, MBA, Director of JFCS’ Adoption Connection For many aspiring same-sex parents, the path to building a family through open adoption was once littered with discriminatory, out-of-state legal barriers. Couples were often forced to make the heartbreaking decision of which partner would adopt as a single parent first, with the other initially labeled as their “roommate” on paperwork. The emotional turmoil was agonizing but accepted as the only option at the time. However, for some lucky couples in San Francisco, hope emerged when the city briefly issued same-sex marriage licenses in 2004. This move would eventually be… Read More

Posted by Admin on June 7, 2024
JFCS Financial Aid Helps Oakland Eco-Entrepreneurs Make Sustainable Shopping More Accessible
  • Stories & Testimonials
  • Financial Assistance
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When Matt Zimbalist and his partner started Re-Up Refills, they set out to make sustainable, zero-waste living more accessible in their Bay Area community. But bringing that dream to fruition takes more than just passion—it requires financial support. That’s where JFCS’ Financial Aid Center stepped in, with a loan that helped Re-Up Refills take its impact to the next level. The seeds of Re-Up Refills were first planted at Urban Adamah, a Jewish farm and educational center in Berkeley, where Matt and his partner, Carly, met and connected over their shared values around environmental stewardship. After years of patronizing… Read More

Posted by Admin on May 2, 2024
Keeping Family Traditions Alive for JFCS’ Shupin Community
  • Donor Stories
  • Stories & Testimonials
  • People with Disabilities
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Jewish Family and Children’s Services’ Shupin Social Club participants recently gathered for their annual Passover Seder, continuing a treasured tradition made possible by longtime JFCS supporters Suzanne and Michael Berke. “Our connection to the Shupin Community is very personal,” says Michael. “My niece Lana had special needs. She did not live long enough to enjoy being part of such a warm community. We love supporting services that would have meant so much to her.” Passover is a favorite holiday in Michael’s family. His mother, Elaine Berke, of blessed memory, was an inspiring leader of the community and loved to bring… Read More

Posted by Admin on April 19, 2024
Jewish Baby Network Helps a New Mom Reconnect with Her Roots and Find Her Community
  • Stories & Testimonials
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Karina Rosinzonsky came with her parents to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union when she was ten years old. At the time, her parents reached out to the Legal Services department of Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS) for help obtaining green cards and resettlement, but that would only be the beginning of Karina and her family’s journey with JFCS and the surrounding Jewish community of the San Francisco Bay Area.     A Hidden Identity in the Former Soviet Union  Growing up, Karina’s parents never explained to her that they were Jewish, but she was aware that she and… Read More

Posted by Admin on February 22, 2024
JFCS’ Immigration Experts Help Reunite Loved Ones
  • Legal Services
  • Stories & Testimonials
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Marcelo and Doreen's

Marcelo and Doreen

Marcelo and Doreen met in Buenos Aires in 2008. Marcelo was a journalist and human rights activist who had been wrongfully imprisoned by the military junta as a youth. Doreen was an author and poet from Marin. Both lovers of tango, the pair became enamored with each other on the dance floor of the beautiful tango ballroom at The Confiteria Ideal—but their relationship would become complicated by Marcelo’s path to emigration.

As a young student protesting the Argentinian government’s authoritarian closure of universities, Marcelo had been unjustly detained and tortured by the junta. And, since there were no legal divorces in Argentina when Marcelo’s first marriage dissolved 35 years before meeting Doreen, his divorce would need to be formalized. Between his arrest history and unresolved earlier marriage, it was not going to be easy to obtain a fiancé visa from the United States.

Marcelo and Doreen were determined to be together, however, so they embarked on the arduous journey through the immigration process. They faced a series of painful setbacks and delays, but they were eventually able to overcome the challenges with the help of JFCS’ immigration experts.

Marcelo with immigration card

Marcelo with his green card.

Brett Snider, an immigration attorney and the Director of Legal Services at JFCS, played a pivotal role in Marcelo and Doreen’s journey. Brett and his team helped Marcelo resolve the issue of his student arrest. JFCS’ Legal Services department also recommended that Marcelo and Doreen contact their congressperson’s office when the Covid-19 pandemic forced embassies around the world to close. An industrious aide was able to put them in direct contact with a closed embassy and schedule Marcelo’s required physical examination.

JFCS’ fierce advocacy and refusal to accept defeat were what Doreen and Marcelo needed to finally cut through the red tape. In July of 2021, Marcelo was granted entry to the U.S. on a fiancé visa. They were married three weeks later in a beautiful ceremony at Rodef Shalom Synagogue in San Rafael, California.

In July of 2023, nearly ten years after beginning his journey, Marcelo worked with JFCS’ Legal Services again to finally obtain his permanent residency card. Now, the JFCS team is eagerly on standby, waiting for the date when Marcelo is eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Marcelo and Doreen

Marcelo and Doreen celebrate their marriage at Rodef Shalom Synagogue in San Rafael

When asked if there was anything they would have done differently throughout this entire process, Doreen said, “We would have reached out to JFCS right from the beginning. That would have cut two years off at least. Brett and his team really know the law around it. It’s not just immigration!”

Marcelo and Doreen’s story is a poignant reminder that love and resilience can triumph over even the most formidable—and bureaucratic—challenges. With the support of one another and the guiding hand of JFCS, Marcelo and Doreen are forging ahead with open hearts and an unwavering sense of possibility.

About JFCS Immigration Services

JFCS’s Citizenship Services help individuals and families navigate the complex immigration system. We provide legal assistance, case management, and financial support to help people achieve their immigration goals.

If you are facing immigration challenges, we encourage you to contact JFCS for help. We can help you understand your options and develop a plan to achieve your goals.

To learn more about JFCS Citizenship Services, visit our website or call us at 415-449-2906.

To donate to help more families like Marcelo and Doreen’s, visit

Posted by Admin on September 27, 2023
Tad and Dianne Taube Are Building a Strong Jewish Future
  • JFCS News
  • Emergency Assistance
  • Named Endowment Funds
  • Stories & Testimonials
  • Financial Assistance
  • Holocaust Center
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Tad Taube and his wife, Dianne, have been longtime supporters of JFCS and models of philanthropy for the entire community. Because of their generous contributions over the years, thousands of individuals and families have found help in times of personal crises or challenges. Now, with the establishment of JFCS’ Taube Family Emergency Assistance Fund, the Taubes are ensuring that our community will have a safety net for years to come. The fund, which the Taubes wish to inspire others to give to as well, will provide essential help through food, financial aid, mental health counseling, and personalized case management services.… Read More

Posted by Admin on September 26, 2023
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