January Issue - Northeast Florida Jewish Life Magazine

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Jewish Life




January 2022



5 Does Your Tzedakah Tell Your Story

13 The Festival Of Lights Shine Brightly On Our Campus


7 Rabbi Matuson Retires 8 Local Dentist Provides A New Beginning


14 Giving Back In A Small Way

10 JFCS Thanks The Entire Community 11 A Visit With A Survivor

12 Celebrating 50 Years Of The Lion of Judah


17 Self-care: Organize Your Space For Less Stress & More Happiness




NOSH ON THIS 29 Apple Cake

18 Setting Your Students Up For Success

19 Self-care For Family Caregivers: Senior Focus

9 Kollel Launches Morning Breakfast Bar And Torah Study Program 10 JELF Now Accepting InterestFree Loan Applications




28 How Do You Care For Yourself?

Cover: Women's Philanthropy's Champagne Brunch co-chair and business owner, Jenn Neuman, organizes space for less stress and more happiness. Photo by Emlyn James, Emlyn James Images.







LETTER FROM OUR CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER school/daycare. Many of us were focused on others that we forgot to look within.

This issue’s theme of self-care has been discussed more in the past 20 months than ever before. During the early days of COVID-19, the concept of self-care became a hot topic on social media outlets. I participated in several North American nonprofit CEO cohorts over Zoom where this topic took precedence. We worried about our constituents, our staff, and our own families. Tuning into any of the morning shows, subject matter experts and everyday people would Zoom in about the toll that isolation was taking on everyone— the lack of personal interaction, impact of holidays passing without family and friend gatherings, balancing home/office, children/

Finally, we started focusing on self-care. With gyms and spas closed, we had to search for different ways. I took up walking – 10,000 steps a day was an achievable goal. Podcasts on finding gratitude and mindfulness hit top of listening charts. Peloton and other “home gyms” were on back order.

Family time became more intentional. For example, one of my grown sons was quarantining in my home. No matter what time we ate dinner, we ate together, and each of us—my husband, son, and I— shared three things we were grateful for each day. This tradition continues. Although my walk time has taken a hit since being back in the office, I still strive for those long walks several days a week. With travel restrictions and visits slowly being lifted, the visits, the hugs, the group gatherings are much

more meaningful than before the pandemic. So, self-care should continue to take on more meaning in our lives. I would be remiss if I did not conclude with another example of self-care. Giving is good for our health. A wide range of research has linked different forms of generosity to better health. Giving “doles out several different happiness chemicals,” Stephen G. Post director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at New York’s Stony Brook University says, “including dopamine and endorphins that give people a sense of euphoria and oxytocin, which is associated with tranquility, serenity or inner peace.” In 2022 as we continue to prioritize self-care, I hope you add volunteering and contributing to our Jewish community to your list.

Jewish Federation & Foundation Staff Mariam Shpeen Feist Chief Executive Officer mariamf@jewishjacksonville.org

Stav Brener Community Shaliach jaxshlichut@jewishjacksonville.org Pat Burke Director, Finance & Administration patrickb@jewishjacksonville.org

Savannah Feustel Marketing Assistant savannahf@jewishjacksonville.org Faye Hedrick Director, Young Professionals & Families fayeh@jewishjacksonville.org

Rachel Heiser Campaign & Donor Relations Coordinator rachelh@jewishjacksonville.org

Jennifer Rensch Foundation Manager jenniferr@jewishjacksonville.org Lauren Rickoff Director, Campaign & Women’s Philanthropy laurenr@jewishjacksonville.org Kellie Smith Director, Foundation kelliek@jewishjacksonville.org

Mariam Shpeen Feist





DOES YOUR TZEDAKAH TELL YOUR STORY? By Kellie Smith, Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northesat Florida often feel pushed and pulled in so many different directions when it comes to charitable giving.

Tzedakah is executed in two ways: one with the hand and one with the heart. Tzedakah is not only about supporting those in need, it is about distributing our resources in a meaningful way that makes the world a better place.

Imagine you were handed $100,000 with no restrictions, other than you must donate it to charity. You can give it all to one local, national, global, Jewish, Israeli, or secular organization, or divide it up between many of these. How would you go about deciding what to do? What questions should you consider throughout the process? Would you consult with anyone or would you make the decision entirely on your own? As Jews, the tradition of giving is already strongly ingrained within us because tzedakah plays an important part of our cultural and religious identity. But how does one thoughtfully and intentionally decide where and why to give money? How do you ensure doing what is right in the eyes of Jewish tradition? These are challenging questions, as we can

Seek out organizations that align with your own values and touches on something you are passionate about. We want to ensure that the charitable choices we make reflect what we want to be remembered for. By opening a fund with the Jewish Foundation, you have a special opportunity to simultaneously invest in your Jewish community while also supporting the other causes that are most meaningful to you. If you haven’t had a conversation with your loved ones about giving decisions, take the opportunity to do so now. It’s so important to have real and meaningful conversations with our family and friends about donating to charity. This is how we educate the next generation on the importance of tikkun olam and ensure that our children and grandchildren

continue the practice of giving back to repair the world.

Consider how you can make your legacy last, even after you are gone. Making a plan to endow your giving means that upon your passing your investment will continue to grow year after year and the charities you supported in life will continue to receive your annual gifts in perpetuity. By leaving your planned gift, the story of your giving never dies. Judaism teaches the belief that donors benefit from tzedakah, just as much or more, than the recipients. It’s important that we reflect on our purpose and approach charitable giving intentionally so that we can each successfully write a story to help further our own unique mission in life. When we do this, we can bring more tzedakah, more justice, and more good into this world— individually and as a Jewish collective. Start the conversation today by calling Kellie Smith, Foundation Director at (904) 512-3796. We can help you write your own story of giving.


RABBI MATUSON RETIRES By Ilyse Greene, Beth El The Beaches Synagogue

is our visionary leadership and the dedication of our members. They are passionate in their commitment to Jewish values and in fostering those values to enhance the quality of life for all those who live in our community,” At 70 years old, he is looking forward to retirement this June.

“I have every intention of continuing to contribute what I can to a community I have come to love. This is my home and the people who live here are my family. I have been blessed with many friends and colleagues and I am grateful to you all. We have no way to say goodbye in Hebrew, instead we say, shalom. I am not saying goodbye to this community, I am saying thank you to all of you who have made my life so lovely for so long. I am deeply grateful.” Join us in celebration as we honor Rabbi Matuson on February 12, from 6:30 - 10:30 pm at Sawgrass Country Club. For more information, email elissa@bethelbeaches.org In 1984, Rabbi Michael Matuson, began his career as assistant rabbi of Congregation Ahavath Chesed, The Temple. He received the Gittelsohn Prize in Education, the Zion Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Hebrew Language, and was the founder of the Cincinnati Reform Jewish High School. After two years, the Temple appointed him associate rabbi. He served as president of the Jacksonville Food Bank, was an active member of the Interfaith Council of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Board of Rabbis, and Habitat for Humanity.

In 1989 he served as senior rabbi of B’nai Zion in Shreveport, LA. He was adjunct professor at LSU and Centenary College and was awarded an honorary doctorate from LSU in 1991. He served as president of the Interfaith Council of Shreveport and was active in civic and charitable projects. For his efforts to combat racism, Matuson was awarded the Ralph Waldo Emerson Humanitarian Prize. In the late 90’s he became senior rabbi of the Temple. Elected to the “Honors Circle” of the National Council for Community and Justice, he served as president of the Interfaith Council. In 2008 Matuson came to Beth El, the Beaches Synagogue. For the last thirteen years he has served as its rabbi. “I think the secret of Beth El’s success


LOCAL DENTISTS PROVIDE A NEW BEGINNING By Caryl Butterley, Jewish Family & Community Services

Brittany Heldwein was a gifted athlete growing up and excelled at track. But as a result of athletic injuries, she became dependent on painkillers. After years of the downward spiral of addiction and having her baby removed from her care, Brittany became a client of Jewish Family & Community Services. Working with JFCS case managers Danelle McCaw and Kate Colley, Brittany slowly began the process of

transforming her life. Danelle says, “There was a lot of shame but she owned up to her mistakes and fought hard to fix things.”

Brittany progressed to finding work and was rebuilding connections but struggled with her appearance. Due to past drug use, homelessness, and domestic violence, she had multiple missing teeth and significant deterioration. “My teeth were a constant reminder of where I had been,” she said. They were a source of embarrassment and shame, and she had quit smiling.

Local dentist Dr. Harris Rittenberg became aware of her story and offered to help give her a “new mouth.” Under Dr. Rittenberg’s care, with Dr. Vanni

R. Strenta performing oral surgery and DCS Dental Laboratory, Brittany underwent teeth removal, a bone graft, denture fittings, and finally implant surgery. All expenses were covered and she now has a physical transformation that mirrors her life transformation.

Brittany is currently sober and regularly attends meetings. She works full time, has re-established connections with friends and family, and recently helped her son Bear celebrate his second birthday. And she has started smiling again! "Dr. Rittenberg treated me with kindness and no judgment. He saved my life."


The Jacksonville Kollel recently launched a new morning Torah study initiative called “KollelCafe.” We offer a gourmet kosher breakfast to anyone who comes to study Torah and Jewish topics at the Kollel!

During morning hours, the Kollel rabbis study with one another and engage in high level Torah learning and analysis. Our Beit Medrash (study hall) is a vibrant and exciting place filled with the beautiful sound of passionate Torah learning and is an ideal environment for one who wants to get swept up in the joy of Jewish learning. We have hundreds of books, in both Hebrew and English, covering a large and diverse variety of Jewish topics. We’d be happy to help facilitate a chavrusa (Torah partner) for you to learn with, or you can study on your own, bring a friend, or listen to an online Torah

class. We are here to give a meaningful Torah learning experience, while enjoying a free gourmet kosher breakfast that one won’t find anywhere else in Jacksonville!

We invested in commercial grade machinery to bring a premium breakfast experience, similar to what you’d find at a hotel continental breakfast. Breakfast includes piping hot Belgian waffles, Dutch pancakes, fresh coffee, fruit smoothies, bagels, and pastries. KollelCafe is open Monday through Friday from 9:15 am to 12 pm. For questions, email rabbiuhr@ jacksonvillekollel.com



In partnership with the Jacksonville Jewish Family & Community Services (JFCS), Jewish Educational Loan Fund (JELF) funded 296 Jewish students at 124 different colleges and universities with a total of $1,278,194 in interest-free loans. In 2021, 11 of those students were from the Jacksonville area. JELF is proud that it’s 100% interest-free loans for higher education (college, graduate school and vocational programs) helped more Jewish students with more loans and larger average loans than ever before. JELF grants need-based, “last dollar” financing, meaning that JELF provides the final dollars that bridge the gap

between a student’s total financial resources and the cost of attending school. Applications for JELF’s interest free college loans for higher education (college, graduate school and vocational programs) are available to Jewish students in the Jacksonville area for the 2021-22 school year, in partnership with Jewish Family & Community Services, from January 3, through April 30, 2022. To qualify for a JELF loan, a student applicant must be:

• A permanent resident of FL, GA, SC, NC, and VA (excluding the greater DC area) but can go to any U.S. accredited school.

• Enrolled full-time in a program leading to a degree or certificate and in good academic standing. • A U.S. citizen or have lawful immigration status.

• Able to provide a designated cosigner.

• Able to demonstrate financial need (2019 FAFSA application required).

For general JELF information, visit the website at www.jelf.org or email info@jelf.org. For more information about JELF in Jacksonville, please contact Hilary Bettman at (904)394-5722, hbettman@jfcsjax.org or application@jelf.org.

JFCS THANKS THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY! By Donna O'Steen, Jewish Family & Community Services survivors. A huge thanks to everyone who sponsored JFCS clients, made a donation to the cause and to the many volunteers who brought this program to life!

Chi Marijanovic's 4th year of sponsoring children

JFCS is overwhelmed by the support of our community. Thanks to you, we were able to provide Chanukah and Christmas gifts to over 1,700 children, seniors, and Holocaust

More than 400 individuals and organizations assisted in providing Holiday gifts to children and seniors in need of support. We are so appreciative of Gayle Bailys for chairing the Holiday Gift Giving Program. She is an amazing volunteer and we greatly appreciate her commitment. Additionally we would like to acknowledge all the volunteers who donated their time and energy and helped make this year a success. The JFCS Holiday Gift Giving program accomplished our goal of

leaving no family behind in 2021. We salute our generous supporters and look forward to having many more successful holiday seasons in the future.

Nicole Andrews and Laura Lach taking Chanukah gifts to survivors

A VISIT WITH A SURVIVOR By Laurie Berger, Jewish Family & Community Services

In March 2020, when the lockdown began, I became a phone-a-friend pal with Natalya, a Holocaust survivor. On our first call, she told me who she was and her lifetime accomplishments. Over time, Natalya and I have talked off and on, but because of the pandemic, were never able to meet in person – until a few weeks ago. On Sunday, November 21, my family and I drove to Palm Coast to meet Natalya in-person for the first time. We were delivering gifts for Natalya and her husband, Rudolf, for Chanukah. As we pulled into Natalya’s driveway, I knew she would be waiting in her music room. She welcomed us into

her home with the sound of a CD of her singing and playing piano. She remembered me; she remembered our conversations, and she remembered my daughter, Jordyn, playing Hatikva on her trumpet over the phone. Natalya asked Jordyn to play – and she again played Hatikva. Natalya asked her to play something else so Jordyn played the Beatles “Yesterday.” Natalya gave her an impromptu lesson and told her she was a good and smart player but needed to practice high notes. I helped Natalya open their presents. She expressed gratitude and said, "Too much, too much". "Not enough, not enough" I said.

My family and I have never had a relationship or real life connection with a survivor, but JFCS made it possible and we are grateful Natalya and Rudolf opened their home and hearts to us. Getting to know her has taught us so much. Survivors are strong. They live with difficult memories and still thrive.


CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF THE LION OF JUDAH By Lauren Rickoff, Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida

Women's Philanthropy Chair, Diane Rothstein

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Lion of Judah. Throughout the year, we will celebrate the accomplishments of the program both locally and globally, culminating with an in-person celebration at the 2022 International Lion of Judah Conference on December 11-13, 2022.

“Women Making History,” a virtual celebration of women with powerful impact, kicks off the year-long celebration on January 9 at 7:00 p.m. All women throughout Northeast Florida are invited to join women from across generations, state lines, and oceans to celebrate accomplishments, inspire and learn from one another, and strengthen our collective ability to give back to the communities we cherish.

The Lion of Judah was created in 1972 in Miami by two philanthropists, Tobie Friedland, of blessed memory, and Norma Kipnis-Wilson, of blessed memory. “The women of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation realized then that they could make an enormous difference in Jewish philanthropy. A small group of women joined in making our dream a realty and inspired each other to create a program that enabled women to be bold, confident and to have a collective voice about our shared Jewish future. Today, the Lion of Judah is an international symbol of women’s leadership in philanthropy,” said Kipnis-Wilson at a past Lion of Judah conference. The Lion of Judah became responsible for raising more than a billion dollars to benefit Jews in need in Israel, in countries worldwide, and in our own local communities. In Northeast Florida there are 113 proud Lions of Judah and 25 Forever Lions, women who will continue their Lion of Judah gift in perpetuity. Lions of Judah make an impact throughout Northeast Florida, Israel and around

the world by making a gift of $5,000 or more to the annual campaign.

“It’s our obligation to make the world better, and to leave the world better than we found it. It’s truly my pleasure, and a blessing, to be a Lion of Judah - helping so many people - locally, nationally, and globally. Federation is a unique organization that continuously identifies the most urgent needs in our community both here and abroad, sometimes on a moment’s notice. It’s wonderful to be part of a group who are on the same page, working to make the world better together,” said Diane Rothstein, Women’s Philanthropy Chair. To learn more about becoming a Lion of Judah, contact Lauren Rickoff, Director of Campaign and Women’s Philanthropy at laurenr@jewishjacksonville.org or (904) 224-1406.



THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS SHINE BRIGHTLY ON OUR CAMPUS By Jewish Life Department, River Garden Hebrew Home

Teens, Rabbi Rosenblum, and Michelle Penson from Jacksonville Jewish Center light the menorah at River Garden

For eight days, our campus bustled with frenetic energy. Each afternoon, community guests, rabbis, and youth groups gathered under sunny skies to lead our inaugural outdoor menorah lighting. The Torah Academy Boys’ Choir kick-started the festivities, performing beloved Hanukkah songs that left the audience cheering for an encore. On the big screen, Yiddish Theatre performers belted out Hanukkah songs in between cooking demonstrations. During his concert, Pianist Bernie Katzman mixed favorite tunes with new additions to the Hanukkah playlist. He wowed the crowd with his debut performance of “Bohemian Hanukkah”, a

parody of the classic rock song by Queen. Residents that came down the hall following the tantalizing scent of frying potatoes were rewarded with a plate of crispy latkes in the Frisch Pavilion kitchen. At our fifth annual Ugly Hanukkah sweater party, triumphant declarations of “Bingo!” punctuated the animated chatter of festively dressed teens and Coves residents forming fast friendships. Participants in the Buddy Box program relished the experience of playing dreidel together in person and sharing gifts.

Our deepest gratitude to our community who participated in each day of our celebration with an outpouring of support.

Blake Zaner, Lottie Smith, and Sandi Driben at The Coves' Ugly Sweater Hanukkah Party



GIVING BACK IN A SMALL WAY MAKES A BIG IMPACT By Lisa Poremba, Life Enrichment Director, River Garden Hebrew Home River Garden Resident Council treasurer, Frances Young, has been chairing a pop tab collection committee since October 2020. She does this in blessed memory of her dear friend, George Klein.

The Ronald McDonald House (RMHC) was Mr. Klein’s favorite charity and he started the pop tab collection committee several years ago at River Garden Hebrew Home. Throughout his years at River Garden, he made several donations of pop tabs. The pop

tabs are recycled for cash to help provide housing for families visiting Jacksonville while their children receive medical care. RMHC reports that pop tab collections have helped raise over $5,000 each year for its families. So far, Mrs. Young and her resident committee have collected over 20 pounds of pop tabs; there are roughly 1,128 tabs per pound.

The pop tabs will be delivered early this month.

REMEMBERING PHYLLIS VANDROFF March ��, ���� – November ��, 202� Women’s Division president, vice president of the board and a member of the Allocations Committee.

Phyllis Vandroff, of blessed memory, was born in New York, NY in 1934 to Albert and Sara Kofka. She moved to Jacksonville at the age of 14 but always loved everything NYC. She graduated from the University of Florida with a major in History and met Arnold. They married in 1954 and raised their family in Jacksonville.

Phyllis was a lifelong member of Congregation Ahavath Chesed and was very philanthropic and involved in volunteer leadership, especially for Jewish causes. Phyllis’ first involvement with the Jewish community was as president of National Council of Jewish Women and Women’s Division Campaign Chair of the United Jewish Appeal’s annual campaign. She participated in the inception of the Jewish Community Alliance, co-chairing the fundraising and solicitation training effort with Irene Jaffa, and eventually became vice president of the JCA board. Phyllis held many leadership roles with the Federation including

On Thursday, November 11, 2021, Phyllis passed away at the age of 87. She is survived by her three children, Cheryl, Eileen, and David, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren, and her sister, Marilyn Stein. Phyllis was preceded in death in 2020 by her loving husband of 66 years, Arnold Vandroff, who was equally active in philanthropy and served as president of the Federation from 1975 to 1977. In her personal life, Phyllis or “Philly” was described as the best wife, mother, grandmother, and friend anyone could wish for. Her devotion to her family had no bounds. Before you knew you needed her, she was already there by your side. She loved travel, a great show tune, entertaining, decorating, the beach, the Gators, and always, most importantly, her family. Their children fondly recall, “Our mom was actively involved in the Jacksonville Jewish community. It was truly both of our parents’ passion to ensure the survival of Jewish culture and Israel.”

As our community’s first Forever Lion to pass away, Phyllis was a true representation of all the attributes that a Lion of Judah exemplifies: compassion, strength,

leadership, and a deep commitment to the Jewish community. Through her and her husband’s act to endow her Lion of Judah and establish an Endowment Fund with the Jewish Foundation, they were able to continue to provide sustainability to the organizations and the causes they loved so dearly in life. Today, and for many years to come, The Arnold and Phyllis Vandroff Endowment Fund will continue to support Congregation Ahavath Chesed, Jewish Community Alliance, and the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida. To contribute to The Arnold and Phyllis Vandroff Family Endowment Fund or to begin creating your own Jewish legacy, contact Kellie Smith, Foundation Director at KellieK@jewishjacksonville.org or (904) 512-3796.

Self-Care: Organize Your Space for Less Stress and More Happiness By Mitzi Saul, Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida

Practicing self-care is more than just eating healthy, regular exercise, and getting enough rest. It also involves ways to diminish the stress of everyday life that comes with living with clutter, disorganization, or the emotional effects of downsizing. Nearly eight years ago, Jenn Neuman, an entrepreneur and dedicated volunteer, created Neu Spaces by Jenn (NeuSpacesbyJenn.com), an independently owned and operated company that empowers people to replace chaos with order in their everyday lives. Their mission is to improve the daily lives of their clients by providing customized organizational solutions and services that maximize simplicity, efficiency, and order. They accomplish it with compassion, kindness, and adherence to the highest ethical standards.

Jenn says, “As a professional home organizer, my goal is to create valuable space for our clients so they no longer structure their lives around their home but structure their home around their lifestyle. When you get organized, you’re not only changing your physical space, but you’re also changing your mental space, and this frees you up to spend more time doing what you love.” Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Jenn’s not new to entrepreneurship. She put herself through college at FSU by co-owning a nail and facial salon in Tallahassee. In 2003 she started a catering company with a neighbor. “Through these businesses, I learned about working with people and listening to their needs. When my husband Lon and I moved to Jacksonville, I dove into connecting with my Jewish community and volunteering for the JCA where my children went to preschool. Connecting this way gave me a sense of family, of home, of comfort.” As her three daughters, Hannah, Josie and Haley were growing up, her volunteer work led to Congregation Ahavath Chesed, where she chaired their religious school advisory board and coordinated holiday events. Jenn feels strongly about volunteering for Jewish Federation & Foundation. She co-chaired the Women's Philanthropy's fundraiser, Girlfriend Connection, Women’s Philanthropy’s Dignity Project, and this year will co-chair our Champagne Brunch. “I’m very intentional about what I say ‘yes’ to. The reason I choose to put a lot of time and effort into volunteering with Jewish Federation is because of the broad impact and the difference it makes not only within our community but globally. This volunteer work has provided me the opportunity to reach within myself; I have so much more to give to others than I ever expected and will be forever grateful.” Jenn’s passionate about her Jewish journey, too. “I was very close to my grandfather who hid being Jewish because he grew up in a small town in Indiana where antisemitism was prevalent. But he wore a Star of David, only he could see, close to his heart. It warms my Jewish heart to wear it with pride as he would have wanted. My volunteerism inspired me to go to Israel. I came back fueled to maintain more of a Jewish connection throughout my life, to keep going and stay connected.” She continues, “By doing this, I’ve made friends for life. From someone who attended 10 different schools from kindergarten to 12th grade, I immediately felt like I was part of a community and family that gave us roots.”

Jenn claims her business has boosted her self-esteem, independence, and helped her become a better role model to her daughters. She’s proud to grow a business of four women who focus on building each other up, helping each other grow, and learn in a safe, sharing environment. “By using our services, we’re doing a mitzvah for our clients, but our clients are doing a mitzvah for themselves by getting organized.” This year’s Annual Women’s Philanthropy Champagne Brunch will be held on Sunday, January 2� at �0 a.m. at the Jacksonville Jewish Center. Co-chairs are Jenn Neuman and Sandy Shapiro. To register, please go to events.idonate.com/champagnebrunch2022.

Setting Students up for Success

By Mitzi Saul, Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida

Jewish Young Influencer Alison Weisman, M.Ed. is the E.P.I.C. inclusion supervisor for students at DuBow Preschool, Martin J. Gottlieb Day School and Torah Academy. E.P.I.C., an acronym for Education, Partnership, Inclusion, and Counseling is a remarkable program that integrates support services into the classroom and spans the full preschool-through-eighth-grade spectrum of needs. The program offers families the opportunity to receive support services for their children while still accessing a well-rounded, Jewish education.

E.P.I.C. provides support and care students need to succeed both inside and outside the classroom. The E.P.I.C. team provides students with individualized education and parents with a better understanding of what programming and support is available to help their family. The program also helps students get the tools they need to help themselves, with the ultimate goal of helping students learn in their best environment. For instance, a child with special needs may find it difficult to concentrate while taking a test in a room full of other students. Alison might recommend that the student go to a quiet room where there would be less distractions or feelings of self-doubt.

“Self-care is setting work-life boundaries through time management, self-advocating by being assertive, and discovering the tools you need to be your best self. I try to practice self-care so I can give my students the best version of me and they can learn how these skills we teach them translate to real life.”

Seven years ago, Jewish Family & Community Services, in partnership with several private donors, established the E.P.I.C. program. Thanks to these donors continued generosity for the past seven years, this program has allowed children to benefit from support services within the Jewish day school setting where otherwise this support would not be available. E.P.I.C. operates in both preschools and K-8 schools, with some key differences between the two. The preschool program includes more preliminary measures, such as observation and support for further evaluation, while K-8 E.P.I.C. students can utilize a full range of services, including social skills groups, classroom social and emotional lessons, test accommodation and modification, and modified educational curriculum. Working one-on-one or with small groups of students with learning disabilities or behavioral issues, 64 students utilize the inclusion services provided by Alison. She helps with service plans and assists teachers with classroom management and accommodations. And thanks to her coordination, 12 students are now receiving Duval County Public School support in the schools. She says, “Our goal is that all of our students love learning, feel confident in their abilities, and also grow towards independence while working with us and their teachers.”

E.P.I.C. is just one of the many programs and services that Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida supports. In addition to JFCS’ generous donors in the sixth year of the program, the Jewish Foundation’s B’nai Tzedek Next Gen fundholders awarded E.P.I.C. a three-year $15,000 grant to ensure that all children can fully experience the richness of Jewish educational, cultural, and

social life.

*Last month, Jewish Life magazine highlighted Jewish Young Influencers in our community. Alison is currently in the Young Professionals & Families’ BRIDGES Leadership Development Initiative class who shares an eagerness to make her community a better place. By working as an E.P.I.C. educator, she ensures all children are provided the tools they need to be successful.

Self-Care for Family Caregivers: Senior Focus By Kari Bell, River Garden Senior Services

When you are caring for others, it is easy to forget to care for yourself. Yet, focusing on self-care is very important so that you prevent frustration and burnout. In fact, many studies show that caregivers are at a much greater risk for significant health problems, as well as an increased risk for depression, if they don’t take care of themselves.

Of course, when you step up and become a caregiver it is admirable, demonstrating familial love and commitment. But, the sheer amount of work can be overwhelming and the emotional swings can be drastic. In most cases you can’t ‘fix’ the situation. How can you adjust and cope more effectively?

1. Take Care of You

Like legs of a stool, consider sleeping, eating and exercising to stay well-balanced. If one leg is cut short, everything starts to wobble. Don’t let your own health suffer while providing care for another.

2. Accept Help for You

It is essential that you ask for and accept help. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed. People will not realize you need help if you do not explain your situation and ask for assistance. What are some small tasks that would help you? Keep a short list on-hand; small tasks like visiting with your loved one a couple of times a week, doing a grocery run, making a meal or helping with paperwork are simple ways others can help.

3. Make Time For You

Self-care comes more naturally to some. If you struggle with feeling selfish about taking time for yourself, talk to a trusted friend. They will probably remind you that everyone needs a break from work, including caregiving. And, because some caregiving situations are more stressful than others, you might require a different amount of time for yourself than another. For example, caring for a person with dementia is often more frustrating than caring for someone with a physical handicap. Outline some options that would help. You might start with a personal time at home; later you may need to find ways to get out of the house, go to appointments or spend time with friends. You might try in-home care or adult day at River Garden. “I hear wonderful stories about how the Adult Day Program provides much needed relief for family caregivers,” says Erica Hickey, Adult Day Manager at River Garden. “They tell me they love the time during the day to do what they need to do, knowing their loved one is here safe. Plus, they don’t have to worry about activities or meals – we do all that – and their loved one goes home tuckered out from the day.”

Ask friends or doctors for ideas. Find resources online or through a support group. Try one or two to see what works for you and for your loved one. Don’t let your self-care fall by the wayside. It is important and caregiving is not easy. It is not selfish to focus on your own needs and desires when you are a caregiver—in fact, it may be more important than ever, as you are now an advocate for another.


HOW DO YOU CARE FOR YOURSELF? By Rabbi Maya Glasser, Congregation Ahavath Chesed - The Temple assist in fueling others, we have to put gas into our own tanks.

How do you care for yourself? During our stressful lives, often the concept of putting ourselves first comes last. We reach out to others, giving time and energy to people around us. It is easy to care about those we love and more difficult to devote that time and energy to ourselves. Yet, in order to

How do you care for yourself? Judaism teaches that every being was created in the image of God. Each person possesses a divine spark. We usually think of this concept when we strive to create an equal society. But we also need to remember that we, ourselves, are holy. Along with recognizing the sparks in others, it is important to remember that you are also sacred. You are created in the divine image. Recognizing that is a significant part of self care.

How do you care for yourself? As we end the secular year and look ahead to new beginnings, I challenge each of you to think about a way to care for

yourself. Care comes in many forms: physical, emotional, spiritual. You can do your best to sleep more, or concentrate on your mental health. There are many ways to fill your own tank and honor the spark of divinity that resides inside of you. One of my favorite resources is the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. They share daily meditations to help us care for ourselves, as well as offer classes and materials focused on healing and self-transformation.

As we continue on our journeys, may you find moments of rest amidst the chaos. May you navigate the stresses of life by caring for yourself. May you remember that you are divine, and worthy of nurturing your mind, body and spirit.





By Stacy Seslowsky, Jewish Community Alliance Apple cake was a staple on my table growing up, so, why not create a healthy version that can be enjoyed guilt-free to start the year off right?

There are health benefits from every ingredient included in this cake recipe! Eggs are full of choline which is an essential nutrient used by our bodies in every cellular process and are incredibly healthy for our brains. Nuts are full of vitamins,

INGREDIENTS 2 cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal) 1 tsp baking soda ½ tsp Celtic sea salt ½ tsp cinnamon ½ cup unsweetened applesauce 4 large eggs ½ cup honey ¼ cup olive oil 1 tsp almond extract 1½ diced apples (1 - 2 apples, leave a few apple slices for decoration) 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans ½ cup dates chopped

minerals, healthy fats and fiber which makes them a superfood in my book. Dates have benefits for our gut, hormones and bones. Honey is a very healthy sugar alternative, apples contain more antioxidants than almost any other food – and are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In my opinion, this apple cake recipe tops the rest because it doesn’t contain sugar or unhealthy fats, and it is gluten and dairy-free.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round pan and cover in parchment paper. 2. Mix the almond flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.

3. In another large bowl, mix applesauce, eggs, honey, olive oil, almond extract and whisk. 4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix.

5. Fold the diced apples, nuts and dates into the batter

6. Pour the batter into the round baking pan. Top with a few slices of apples to decorate the top. 7. Bake for 50 - 55 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.




1200+ men, women and children gathered for a community-wide Chanukah celebration at the Nocatee Spray Park on the third night of Chanukah. The gathering, organized by Chabad of St. Johns, featured a glowing menorah lighting ceremony and the dramatic Helicopter “Gelt” Drop, where thousands of chocolate Chanukah coins rained down from a helicopter in a spectacular shimmering shower, followed by the crowd of kids rushing in to collect their chocolate treasures.


Community members at Hanukkah & Hockey Night with the Jacksonville Icemen.

Rabbi Maya Glasser led the Chanukiah lighting as Hazzan Holzer lit the candles with Rabbi Avi Feigenbaum.

Our Shaliach Stav Brener attended the Israeli-American National Summit. He made strong and meaningful connections with other Jewish professionals and created future partnerships. Stav shared stories about our Federation & Foundation and Jewish community.

Alan Margolies celebrating his retirement from Jewish Federation & Foundation by lighting the menorah with current and past presidents.


Martin J. Gottlieb Day School middle school students with letters & gifts from their senior buddies at River Garden/The Coves.

Martin J. Gottlieb Day School students created their own shields in celebration of the Maccabee victory

Martin J. Gottlieb Day School students built circuits and made light-up Hannukah cards using LEDs, batteries, and conductive tape.

The 5th Annual JTLI/USY Ugly Hanukkah Sweater Party with the residents of The Coves occurred during Hanukkah. It was so good to be together again after a year of being together virtually. Bingo, treats and gift giving were so much fun!

DuBow Preschool Hannukah performance

At the Jacksonville Jewish Center, 3rd - 5th grade members of Chalutzim with Youth Advisor Jacob Ruby light the hanukkiah they created as they made and submitted a video for the residents of River Garden and The Coves.

The Women's Philanthropy Steering Committee of the JF&F welcomed new CEO Mariam Feist with a gathering to share their favorite things. Attendees put together an album that included their favorite things to do in Jacksonville. Also, they shared in a gift exchange of their favorite things, which helped Mariam get to know a little something about each woman. It was a special morning full of warmth and hospitality.

The Jacksonville Jewish Center enjoyed celebrating the last night of Hanukkah in the company of friends and family. Each family lit their hanukkiah together as a community, with a flame started from the clergy’s sh’mash. We then shared a meal, played in a dreidel tournament, and ate delicious latkes.


River Garden Shares the Spirit of Thanksgiving!

Faye Price enjoys a visit with her daughter, Sherri.

Alan & Lois Chepenik enjoy the company of Naomi Lazar for Thanksgiving at The Coves.

Sarah Dymond, the new Administrator at The Coves, greets Debby Katz before Thanksgiving lunch.

Janice Hayflick (C) shares her Thanksgiving meal with daughter, Bonnie and friends.

Betty & Joseph Abisch are finely dressed for the occasion.

Mauri Mizrahi (L) recognizes Bernadeth Palompo (R) at River Garden. Bernadeth recently celebrated her 26th year of service and was named Director of Nursing in 2021.

River Garden's Hanukkah Happenings!

Rabbi Horowitz with the Torah Academy Boys’ Choir

Evelyn Peck with Joey Morgenthal and Brennan Zaner for Buddy Box

Leslie Held, Director of Jewish Life, and Dr. Joseph at the Hanukkah Party

River Garden staff making latkes

The Jacksonville Kollel celebrated Chanukah with our annual game night. Our guests enjoyed cocktails, snacks and an entertaining family feud game, “Do you know your rabbis?” A great time was had by all!

Co-Presidents, Tammy Shumer & Karen Freedman

Beth El family members at the doughnut wall

Board Members, Ilyse Greene & Grace Belkin

Beth El - The Beaches Synagogue held their Annual Community Hanukkah Celebration on December 5. The celebration was open to the entire community and was a very well attended event. Rabbi Matuson was full of energy and the Hanukkah spirit was infectious, particularly during our menorah lighting and annual dreidel competition.

WORTH THE SCHLEP Tuesdays Together Jan. 4 10:00 - 11:00 AM Location: First Watch 9271 Baymeadows Rd, Jacksonville If you or someone you know is new to Northeast Florida, join Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida for community, conversation, & coffee. RSVP to Faye Hedrick at Fayeh@jewishjacksonville.org JJC Virtual Trivia 7:30 - 8:15 PM Jan. 5 and Jan. 19 Location: 3662 Crown Point Rd, Jacksonville Cafe Israeli - Meet an Iron Dome Fighter! Jan. 5 6:00 - 8:00 PM Location: JCA Library, 8505 San Jose Blvd, Jacksonville Meet our special guest, Marom Shmueli, a Shaliach from Ohio and an Iron Dome fighter. RSVP: https://bit. ly/3yvdNVg Women’s Philanthropy Connection Jan. 13 10:00 AM Location: Provided after RSVP Join women’s philanthropy for a book discussion of Corey Adjami’s “Life and Other Shortcomings.” RSVP at https://events.idonate.com/wpconnections JCA Lunch and Learn Jan 13. 12:00 PM Location: 8505 San Jose Blvd, Jacksonville Learn about a variety of Jewish topics from Rabbi Feigenbaum while enjoying a free catered lunch. RSVP

at rabbifeigenbaum@etzchaim.org Nature Walk with Hadassah Jan. 16 10:30 AM Location: Mandarin Park, 14780 Mandarin Rd, Jacksonville Celebrate nature and TuB'Shevat as Karen Morse leads Hadassah members and friends on a nature walk. JFCS Men’s Event at Intuition Ale Jan. 16 1:30 - 5:00 PM Location: Intuition Ale Works, 929 E Bay Street, Jacksonville For more information, visit www.jfcsjax.org/mensevent Community Havdalah Jan. 22 7:00 - 8:00 PM Location: Jacksonville Jewish Center 3662 Crown Point Rd, Jacksonville Join us for crafts, stories, and a story walk. Register at idonate.com/ communityhavdalah Women’s Philanthropy Champagne Brunch Jan. 23 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM Location: 3662 Crown Point Rd, Jacksonville Featuring Elise Scheck Bonwitt, author of More: Get More out of Life with Less Complication. RSVP at https://events.idonate.com/ champagnebrunch2022 JJC Cantor’s Concert Jan. 25 7:30 - 9:00 PM Location: 3662 Crown Point Rd, Jacksonville

Join us for the New York Cantors concert, directed by Gulf Coast Symphony’s Andrew M. Kurtz. Purchase tickets at jaxjewishcenter.org/nycantors


JFCS International Holocaust Rememberance Day Virtual Program (2 Dates) Jan. 26 7:00 - 8:30 PM Jan. 27 10:00 - 11:30 AM All are invited - including classrooms. We hope you will join us as we remember the lives lost and celebrate living survivors and their families' strength during the live tour of the Frisch Holocaust Memorial Gallery. International Holocaust Rememberance Day: Children of Holocaust Survivors Share Their Stories Jan. 27 7:00 - 8:30 PM Location: 8505 San Jose Blvd, Jacksonville Pink Challah Bake Feb. 3 7:00 PM Location: Chabad at the Beaches, 521 A1A N Ponte Vedra Join the Beaches Great Pink Challah Bake to celebrate, support, and remember those in our lives affected by breast cancer. RSVP at chabadbeaches.com/pinkhchallah Rabbi Matuson Retirement Feb. 12 6:30 - 10:30 PM Location: Sawgrass Country Club 10034 Golf Club Dr, Ponte Vedra Beach For more information, email Elissa at elissa@bethelthebeaches.org



River Garden is the go-to resource for high-quality adult care in Jacksonville. Honoring our Jewish traditions, the dedicated staff, leadership and volunteers are all committed to a best-in-class experience. Whether it is for you, your spouse, parents or friend, be sure to request River Garden.

PJ Library, the award-winning free program for books and music is open to all families with Jewish children in Jacksonville. If your children are between the ages of six months and eight years, they are eligible. Please sign up now by going to pjlibrary.org/communities/ jacksonville or calling Melissa Willams at (904) 394-5724.

JFCS, in partnership with Margo's Catering, is pleased to bring you our meal program Meals4You. Meals are delicious, nutritious, convenient and delivered right to your door. Jewish dietary laws are observed. Call Nicole Andrews at (904) 394-5810 for more information.


Every Tuesday from 3:15 to 4:15, Torah Academy hosts a free kosher food program sponsored by the USDA for children under 18. The program helps provide food during these trying times. For more info, contact shorowitz@torah-academy.com.

Through a partnership with GO GO Grandparent and a grant from the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, JFCS is now offering immediate rides through our Call2Go program. Riders will no longer have to call to book transportation. They will now be able to use an "on demand" service available at their fingertips! GO GO Grandparent will have booking agents available 24/7. When a client calls, the agent will book, monitor and stay available to the client until the ride is complete. Riders MUST pre-register with Nicole Brown at (904) 394-5724 and have a cell phone (texting is not necessary) to use this service. Call2Go is available to those in need of transportation to attend synagogue, medical appointments and other important outings. A sliding fee scale is available. Don't be deceived by the name. . . you don't have to be a grandparent to use the program. Call Nicole today!

Admissions (904) 886-8420 Adult Day (904) 288-7858 Home Health Care (904) 288-7851 Outpatient Rehab (904) 886-8454 The Coves (904) 292-2683 Volunteers (904) 886-8429 Foundation (904) 886-8430 MAIN (904) 260-1818

Searching for identity hosts writing workshops for second and third generation holocaust survivors. Meet monthly in a confidential and judgement-free setting, in-person/ online, to explore experiences, capture important stories and explore identity. RSVP at www.searchingforidentity.org/ writing-workshops.

8505 San Jose Blvd Jacksonville, FL 32217