Jewish Community

Mental Health and Chaplaincy

The dedicated chaplains at JCFS Chicago are committed to uplifting community members. “We listen,” Rabbi Joseph S. Ozarowski said. “It’s all about relationships.” In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, these success stories illustrate those relationships and the journey of mental health.

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Chaplaincy in Challenging Times

Keeping with the principle of pikuach nefesh (preservation of life and health), JCFS Chicago chaplains continue to provide support by phone or online. We speak with people who live at home, in senior communities or in other residential facilities, often bringing a sense of spirituality and connection to the Jewish community in challenging times.


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Creating Community Through Chaplaincy

Although it’s a snowy winter Friday afternoon in Chicago, inside Bella Terra, a senior living community in Morton Grove, warm Shabbat melodies envelop Jewish residents. Twice a month they come together to welcome Shabbat with services led by conservative Cantor Fortunee Belilos and volunteer Rabbi Milt Wakschlag. 

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Take Action To Support Refugees And Asylum Seekers

Over 70 million people are displaced around the world because of violence, war and persecution – the greatest displacement in history1. As Jews, we live by the value of Tikkun Olam – the repair of the world – and talk frequently of the importance of welcoming the stranger. We have a unique responsibility to support refugees and asylum seekers and raise our voices in opposition to the negative rhetoric and policy changes that we are bearing witness to today.

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Rise of Professional Jewish Community Chaplaincy

Jewish chaplaincy is rooted in sacred texts; it builds on older traditions of bikur cholim, the Talmudic commandment to visit the sick. Jewish chaplains haven’t been around for long, however. The first Jewish chaplains can be traced to the American Civil War but greatly expanded in World War II, when about three hundred rabbis served in the U.S. military. After the war, chaplaincy programs started to appear around the country.

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Creating a Community of Caring

Addiction and addiction recovery are realities in our community; they always have been and likely will be into the near future.  Until recently many people in the Jewish community denied that addiction was a Jewish issue.  Now there is a much greater recognition of how addiction challenges our own.  However, many Jewish families still express deep feelings of isolation when confronting addiction in themselves or their loved ones.

There are so many ways, large and small, that each of us can support Jewish families struggling with active addiction or in recovery, to bring them out of isolation and into the loving support our community offers.  Here are some ideas:

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