November 10, 2023

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow is Veterans Day, a day dedicated to remembering and honoring all those who served in America’s military. Last week, I had the privilege of speaking at Camden County’s Veterans Medal Ceremony, where three of our amazing JFCS volunteers were being honored: Nelson Mellitz, David Worrell, and Henry David. The event had personal resonance for me as I owe my family’s survival to those who have served in the military. My grandparents and my father were Holocaust Survivors. My father was born in hiding – in a barn in Lublin, Poland in 1944. He lived his first year in that barn until the war ended and American soldiers liberated the world from the clutches of Nazi Germany. If it weren’t for the valiant efforts of the United States Armed Forces, my family would not have survived.

Day in and day out, our military changes the lives of everyone in this country, and most people don’t even realize it. But in times of peace and times of battle, our military is there. They are our protectors, our angels, our support system. My father-in-law and my granduncle both served in the armed forces. So, whether it is my legacy, my family, or quite frankly, my freedom, military service is personal to me. And it should be personal to everyone in this country.

Our great nation was built on the foundation of freedom and the love of liberty and justice. However, to have freedom, we must be able to protect and defend it. Our brave veterans have done just that. The American dream could not happen without their sacrifice and service, and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

JFCS serves in a different way. With thousands of clients from all backgrounds and faiths in Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester Counties, we provide case management, counseling, home delivered meals, food pantry packages and more. We are especially proud to assist veterans and their families.

Through our Take the Wheel program, we provide peer to peer driving services via veterans and other local volunteers to support clients who are veterans, who can no longer get to their Veterans Affairs Hospital in Philadelphia and other medical appointments on their own. These rides are a lifeline that allow our veterans to maintain the continuity of care they need to thrive and live independently.

I’d like to share one client’s story…

Ethan* came to JFCS last year. I was brand new to my job and I was talking about Take the Wheel to a friend when she said, “My friend Ethan is hopeless and has nowhere else to go. Would you call him?” Ethan suffers from the effects of Agent Orange and his appointments at the VA in Philadelphia were more important than ever. He had been getting rides from friends and trying to do it all himself, but it is hard for him to ask for help. My friend didn’t know where to turn and she asked if JFCS could help Ethan.

It is our privilege and our honor to support veterans like Ethan. Should you know of someone who needs support, or of someone who is interested in volunteering with our veterans, please reach out to me.

On a separate note, we are all struggling as our brothers and sisters in Israel are fighting a war for the survival of our homeland. Across the country and especially on college campuses, our Jewish community feels like we are fighting for the right to survive. Now more than ever, we feel the crushing impact of anti-Semitism and fear for the safety of our children, families, and grandparents.

We understand that these struggles cause significant emotional stress, and JFCS is here to help. Next week, we are hosting three virtual Community Conversations providing support and guidance for those in need. These are free and open to the community, and we welcome anyone who is interested in attending. I have attached a flyer for both our Community Conversations and our Individual Counseling Services.

Wishing you a Shabbat filled with light, peace, and love.