Transitions in Jewish Community Services

Shorter days, cooler temperatures, football and and the sweetness of apples dipped in honey.  All signs that we are in the midst of transitioning to a new season and a New Year.

Several of our programs at Jewish Child & Family Services are also transitioning to better serve the community. It's clear that the months ahead will be filled with energy!  Shanah Tovah - may this New Year be filled with health, happiness and peace.

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September is National Recovery Month

September is National Recovery Month, therefore it seems a good time to ask “what is recovery?”  The Jewish Center for Addiction at JCFS serves Chicago’s Jewish community by raising awareness about addiction issues, educating on addiction, prevention and treatment, referring community members to recovery resources, and supporting Jews in recovery.  So it is equally fitting that JCA would bring this question to our community.

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Raising Mental Health Awareness

Fifteen year-old Anna lounged on the sofa in Robin Stein’s office, sinking into the cushions with her legs folded beneath her. Though her features remained stoic, the cell phone she cradled shook in the palms of her hand as she rapidly swiped at its surface with her thumbs. “Here,” Anna said, and held the phone out to Stein, a licensed clinical social worker at Jewish Child & Family Services. The screen displayed a somewhat pixelated selfie of a very young girl with a gun pointed at her temple. “She talked about dying all the time.” Anna was in grief therapy with Stein; the girl holding the gun was Anna’s younger sister, Sarah, who had taken her life the year before, ultimately overdosing on a relative’s sleeping pills. Sarah was only 10.

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Our Stories Have Power

Many individuals in addiction recovery struggle with an important question:  Should they tell people that they are in recovery?  The traditional response would be reflected in a quote from the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous:  “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of our program.” Guarding anonymity in a world full of stigma against people who struggle with alcohol, drugs and mental disorders was a realistic response.  Individuals in recovery had reason to worry about their vulnerability and often only shared their status as a person in recovery with people they trusted to not judge them.

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Help, Healing and Hope After Loss - “How to Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies”

I recently read a letter published in the Washington Post by a young widowed father of two named David Creekmore. The letter was written to his deceased wife, Trish, who died three years ago.  Towards the end of this deeply moving letter David wrote “Life’s too short.  I had to lose you to really understand that. You are not forgotten. We move on because we have to, not because we want to.” These words really resonated with me because they speak so powerfully about how the experience of loss can forever change our focus and priorities in life.

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An Empty Chair at the Seder

The Hebrew word “Seder” means order. The Seder evening and Hagada have a framework—a time for talking, a time for ritual foods, a time for dinner, a time for praising God, a time for singing, a time for engaging children, a time for questions and a time to think about possible answers. But the order of the Seder also refers to the non-ritual aspects of the evening. We often have a routine of who comes, who we might invite, where we sit, how we arrange the table, and more. These things can change from year to year, yet they are always present in some form. But what happens when the order is upended? What challenges the sense of order when a loved one who has been a part of our sacred evening is no longer with us. Where is the “seder”—the order—when the Seder has been changed, the order ripped away from us?

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Message from the Front: JCARES Professional Training Institute Attendees Hear About Surviving Rape

A dozen times each year, the JCARES Professional Training Institute offers educational sessions to help professionals across disciplines become more effective and sensitive responders to—and advocates for—abuse  and sexual assault victims and their families.

Molly Boeder Harris, founder of Portland’s Breathe Network , was the keynote speaker at a recent training focused on a variety of healing techniques , including yoga, art therapy, acupuncture, and  massage, that can be used to help abuse and rape victims. The training promised to be an informative opportunity for Harris “to demystify the healing arts,” as she put it. 

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Finding Your Shalom—Healing, Hope and Abundant Peace

How do you heal after a loss? You may have heard the adage that time heals all wounds. But does it? I don’t believe time, alone, heals wounds; it is what you choose to do with the time. We offer many ways to address your loss; to find your Shalom (peace).

Nechama: To Comfort the Bereaved Among Us” are classes held in area synagogues for the newly bereaved. Nechama is an opportunity for you to join  with other mourners and learn hands-on tools and information about the grief and mourning process, as well as Jewish resources to support you on your journey.  

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