Jewish Community Programs

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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Coping With Sudden Loss

Not a day goes by when we are not inundated with stories of shootings, accidents, senseless acts of violence or natural disasters. When these events happen, we might feel shock or sadness, yet we strive to protect ourselves by keeping the tragedies at arm’s length. But how do we handle an unexpected or sudden loss in our own lives? 

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Elana Boiskin Among Jewish Communal Professionals Awarded an MA in Jewish Professional Studies at Spertus Institute Graduation

Elana Boiskin, Jewish Chaplaincy Program Coordinator of JCFS was presented the distinguished Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies (MAJPS) at Spertus Institute’s commencement ceremony on December 9, 2018. Elana was among 17 Jewish communal professionals and scholars from across North America who were also awarded this prestigious degree.

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Talking to Your Child About Body Safety

Warm temperatures and bright sunshine remind us that summer has arrived. With summer comes fun and relaxation and, often, more unstructured time. It’s important for parents to remind children about how to keep their bodies safe and ways of avoiding unhealthy interactions. Having these kinds of conversations help foster strong, open relationships with children that can last a lifetime.

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6th Annual Conference on Help, Healing and Hope After Loss

Serious illness and loss often force us to confront big questions such as “Why did this illness happen to me?” The illness, loss and spiritual support at JCFS Chicago and The Lauri S. Bauer Foundation For Sudden Loss’ 6th Annual Conference Help, Healing and Hope Conference featured Rabbi Anne Brener, LCSW, presenting “Navigating The Wilderness Of Loss: Reframing The Spiritual Journey of Grief.” Using text, meditation and expressive healing techniques, Rabbi Brener provided insights into these big questions.

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The Outgoing Sibling

Helping the World See My Sister the Way I See Her

By Renee Birnberg Silberman

My sister is the most emotionally intelligent person I know. Our mother liked to tell me Estella was so smart, but I brushed her statements aside for most of my young and young adult life. After all, she had been tested as having lower than average intelligence, and the doctors told my parents (over half a century ago) that the best place for her to grow up was in a nun-run facility in Wisconsin.

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