From the Desk of CEO Judy Halper: October 2023
What does the “J” in JFCS stand for? That is a question the Board and staff of Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis spends time reflecting on strategically and thoughtfully. After all, we are a staff of nearly 130 diverse people reflecting many religions, ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds, abilities, strengths and weaknesses, sexual and gender identities, and more. Our Board of Directors is comprised of 35 people with various levels of religious observance, educational background, financial capacity, some with physical or emotional disabilities, and a variety of skillsets. The more than 13,000 people we serve come from many different places in the world, an array of challenges, varied support systems, and different experiences.
Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis began in 1910 as a resettlement organization serving the needs of Jewish immigrants and refugees, who fled Eastern Europe, mostly with nothing more than what they could carry. They left their homelands due to anti-Semitism, pogroms, and hate. JFCS agencies throughout North America responded to the need of these immigrants, offering financial assistance, employment, housing, and more.
Recognizing that throughout the lifecycle everyone needs help and has needs at one point or another, JFCS began to offer more programs and services over time in order to “sustain healthy relationships, ease suffering, and offer support in times of need,” as our mission states. We do this in service to the Jewish value of tikkun olam (repair of the world) and we do this one person at a time. We often say at JFCS that repairing the world means repairing it for everyone. To the extent that JFCS programs and services, and the compassionate staff providing this care, can deliver on repairing the world, the better the world will be for us all.
As we reflect on the war in Israel, the terrorism brought upon its people, the death and destruction and ongoing pain and suffering, the “J” in JFCS becomes increasingly evident. Our values of welcoming the stranger, caring for the widow, feeding the hungry, and clothing the indigent, informs our work. Though we are far from Israel, our thoughts never are. At Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis, we are Here for all. Always, and we are here to offer help and hope.