Jewish Family Services celebrated our 172nd Annual Meeting this year on June 15th. A year’s experience with Zoom showed: the brisk meeting zoomed by, with fabulous emceeing from former JFS Board Member and Trustee Larry Salzman – and no technical difficulties to speak of. Rabbi Dovid Asher delivered a touching D’Var Torah with an adoption theme, reminding us that Moses himself was adopted.
JFS CEO, Wendy Kreuter, spoke about the challenges of the past year: “Although we’ve experienced many significant moments – like the influenza pandemic and devastating wars – Covid 19 presented its own unique challenges. We know the story of 2020 is one of challenges; it is also a story of overcoming them.” In spite of the obstacles, JFS provided more than 100,000 hours of hands-on care, served nearly 600 individuals with mental health counseling, and recruited 300 foster, adoptive, and kinship families.
Wendy also called back to our inspiration: Zipporah Cohen, JFS’ President from 1904 to 1938. “She once said, ‘Each year JFS has striven to broaden its usefulness, until today it stands forth like a giant oak affording shelter to those in need.’ It is truly humbling to be new growth on that tree.” It’s difficult to imagine the past year without Zipporah’s words and example as our guide.
This Annual Meeting marked several transitions in JFS’ Board leadership. After three remarkable terms of service, Ron Felmus has rolled off the Board of Directors. Sandy Sisisky took up the post of Immediate Past President; it’s hard to believe her term included both JFS’ 170th anniversary and our second pandemic. Wendy said, “We couldn’t have asked for a more dedicated and understanding leader the last two years.”
A new slate of officers officially took up their posts on the Executive Committee: Dr. Michael Mandel, Michael Sievers, Martin Miller, and Cindy Boswell. Eric Shoenfeld was installed as the next in a long line of JFS Presidents. As a former JFS Board Member, Eric has been engaged with JFS for more than 10 years. He said, “I have now stayed engaged over a time equivalent of a K-12 education… That time has given me the opportunity to observe, learn, grow and understand the deep personal impact that JFS’ mission delivers by Transforming Lives and Strengthening our Community.”
None of our accomplishments in the last year would be possible without the generosity and commitment of our JFS Family of leaders, donors, partners, and friends. We are profoundly grateful to the outgoing members of the Executive Committee for their service: Seon Rockwell, Sara Griebel, Rosemary Seltzer, and Ron Felmus. Many thanks also go to Larry Salzman for his masterful emceeing – not even Zoom could dull his impact on the night. It is our sincere hope we will all be in the same room together for our 173rd Annual Meeting next year. We suspect next year will be one of great celebration. The theme might just have to be “JFS Family Reunion.”