Community Programs

Transitions in Jewish Community Services

by Amy Rubin, Senior Director of 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 JCFS Chicago 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

by Dr. Beth Fishman PhD
Manager, Addiction Services

September is National Recovery Month, therefore it seems a good time to ask “what is recovery?”  The addiction services at JCFS Chicago 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 addiction services would bring this question to our community.

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JCARES Professional Training Institute

by Betsy Lazerow, JCARES & Community Services Professional Education Coordinator

JCFS Chicago's Community Services is committed to offering cross-discipline professionals – mental health, social service, health care and addiction treatment professionals; Rabbis and synagogue leadership; law enforcement and legal advocates; administrators and educators – with a diversity of opportunities for learning, networking and dialoguing.  

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Our Stories Have Power

by Beth Fishman, PhD and Nina J. Henry, LCPC, CADC

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”

by Elizabeth Siegel Cohen, LCSW
Coordinator, illness, loss and spiritual support at JCFS Chicago
Bereavement Specialist

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

by Rabbi Joe Ozarowski, D.Min., BCC
Rabbinic Counselor and Chaplain, JCFS Chicago

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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Changing Language Can Change Your Life

by Tracey Lipsig Kite

Do you ever have those days when life is just overwhelming? When the meal preparation and clean-up, and the laundry, and the homework all need to get done, and your boss, and your kids, and your sister all need your time and attention? When you are sure there will never be enough of you to go around?  

When I have those days, I used to say to myself “I hate my life.” And when I thought “I hate my life,” everything would feel dark and heavy and endless. That heavy dark feeling led to my yelling at my kids, eating food that isn’t good for me and putting off doing the basic things that are needed to keep our lives going.

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Refugees: Seeking Solace, Safety and Serenity

by Jessica Schaffer, Director of HIAS Immigration & Citizenship

In 1949, my grandparents, like so many thousands of Jews at the time, arrived in Canada as refugees. They had survived the ghettos and concentrations camps of Poland and Germany and were grateful for the opportunity to build a new, quiet life in a welcoming community. With them was my mother, only two years old at the time. Though she didn’t know the same horrors as my grandparents, she did know the feeling of containment in the Bergen Belsen Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, in which she was born and spent the first years of her life. For her, my grandparents wished a bright, safe future. They wanted her to grow roots in a country that accepted her and that she could call home.  

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Infertility: a Scriptural Perspective

By Rabbi Joseph S. Ozarowski, Rabbinic Counselor and Chaplain, JCFS Chicago

I have been part of a work group that is planning a conference called “The Journey of Infertility .” Some think this conference “path-breaking” or “revolutionary,” but this issue is not new. The challenges of infertility go back to the Torah itself.

In Judaism children are seen as a blessing, as a means of continuing our faith and people. When this proves difficult, the burden can be heavy. 

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