It’s okay if you’re not okay…let JFCS help

November 1, 2023

If you are anything like me, you are still reeling from the vicious attacks upon our brothers and sisters in Israel last month. Ongoing escalations in the Middle East and rising antisemitism in this country—and even here in our South Jersey community—have left us grieving, traumatized, and scared. Anxiety is high and tension is in the air. Tears and floods of emotion seem to come out of nowhere, even as we must continue to function in our everyday lives.

I am here to tell you that it’s okay if you’re not okay. As many of us look for ways to cope, there are concrete steps you can take to support your mental health and physical well-being during this most stressful time.

Limit your media exposure. Resist the temptation to leave the news on the TV all day long and avoid looking at troubling images and videos on social media. While unplugging can be easier said than done, it’s important to protect yourself—and especially children—from traumatic images and horrifying words.

Be kind to yourself. Take some time out of your day to do something you love, like reading a book, listening to music, or taking a walk outside. Remember, self-care isn’t selfish. On the contrary, it enables you to be there for yourself and those who depend on you.

Tap into your inner strength. Drawing upon your own strength and resilience can help you get through tough times. Now is the time to practice breathing techniques or mindfulness to help calm stress and overwhelming emotions. Think about what has worked in the past and try those same coping skills now.

Get involved. Many people might be wondering how to help Israel from South Jersey. I recommend a two-pronged approach. First, you can donate critically needed funds through Jewish Federation’s Israel Emergency Fund. Donations will be distributed between urgent humanitarian needs and longer-term rebuilding and rehabilitation. To make a donation, visit

Next, you can volunteer with local organizations such as preschools, synagogues, food banks, or senior centers. Giving your time to help others can make you feel less helpless.

Ask for help. Now is the time to lean on your social support system and let others be there for you. Lean on your social support system—whether it’s friends, family, or your fellow synagogue congregants. And if it all gets to be too much…ask for help. I know firsthand that asking for help can be hard, and many see it as a sign of weakness. But on the contrary, it is a sign of strength and courage.

For those in need of extra support, our JFCS Faye Manger Counseling Department is here for you. Our team sprang into immediate action on October 7, and we have not ceased our efforts to support our community’s mental health during this crisis. We have offered in-person and virtual support sessions at the Katz JCC, Lions Gate, local synagogues and even dance troops. We will continue to offer group and individual mental health support to our community for as long as it is needed.

In my role at JFCS, I see every day just how critical it is for people across the lifespan to have access supportive mental health services. When mental health suffers, physical health suffers, too. I am pleased to announce that mental health care can now be more accessible and affordable for our Jewish community. Thanks to a generous grant from the Raymond and Gertrude R. Saltzman Foundation, funds are available for JFCS to offer subsidized counseling services for Jewish children, aged 18 years and younger, and Jewish seniors, aged 60 and older. Beneficiaries of the subsidized counseling services must live in Camden, Burlington, or Gloucester counties.

Please know, however, that our counseling services are not exclusive to those demographics. JFCS is here to serve individuals of every age and every stage. We accept most major insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid, and offer a sliding scale fee for those unable to pay. Our compassionate, licensed clinicians can provide individual counseling for children, teens, adults, and seniors, as well as family and couples counseling. We have immediate appointments available, and we are ready and willing to help you or your loved ones cope with anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, and other life challenges.

It is our privilege and our duty to offer this support as our community grapples with the ongoing crisis in Israel. Remember, asking for help shows that you are strong. To request counseling services, please call (856) 424-1333, or email