Jewish community

By Emma Figarsky

Memphis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Foundation of Memphis have both received a Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator, which is the highest possible rating. Charity Navigator is the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. Federation and Foundation are currently two of twelve Four-Star charities in the Mid-South and remain among the highest rated nonprofits in the industry, with a score of 96.57 out of 100.

“Between our two organizations, we work with hundreds of donors and hundreds of charitable organizations. This ranking speaks volumes about the professionalism and dedication of our staff and leadership in making sure every dollar is making maximum impact,” said Irvin Skopp, Treasurer/Secretary of the Executive Committee of Jewish Community Partners, which operates both Federation and Foundation.

Charity Navigator rates charities by evaluating two broad areas of performance: financial health, and accountability and transparency. These ratings show donors how efficiently a charity uses their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time, and their level of commitment to being accountable and transparent.

“For decades, the Federation and Foundation have provided ways for charitably minded members of the Memphis Jewish community to support the most critical needs of Jewish families as well as achieve their personal philanthropic goals,” said Laura Linder, President and CEO of Jewish Community Partners. “Being recognized as a top-tier charitable organization is such an honor.  With all of the charitable choices donors have, this ranking helps to remind our supporters as well as the broader Memphis Jewish community that we are a trusted philanthropic partner.”  

This ranking signifies that both Memphis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Foundation of Memphis exceed industry standards and outperform most charities in their area of work. They have been recognized for adhering to best practices while executing their mission in a financially efficient way. To learn how to make a gift to Federation’s Annual Community Campaign or open a fund at the Jewish Foundation, visit

Pictured above: Anthony Morrison, Jewish Foundation of Memphis Chair; Laura Linder, Jewish Community Partners President & CEO; Cindy Finestone, Memphis Jewish Federation Chair; and Ken Steinberg, Jewish Community Partners Chair, at the 2019 Jewish Community Partners Annual Meeting, one of the last in-person events before the pandemic. The hard and careful work of staff and lay leaders, as well as the generous involvement of hundreds of donor families in Jewish Memphis, contributed to a Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator for Federation and Foundation.

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Spring cleaning, or cleaning for Passover, is a common annual event. What’s one thing that made preparing for Passover, and spring, different this year? Memphis Jewish Federation’s PJ Library Book Drop & Swap! Over the course of a week, families donate their gently used children’s books, culminating in a Book Swap event under the MJCC Pavilion, Sunday, March 14.

Thanks to many volunteers, and event chair and PJ Library Committee member Amy Collier, over 1,000 books were sorted and displayed for families to select for free, along with a special PJ Library Memphis Passover Fun Kit that included a craft, game, and more!

Shaina Zakalik, parent of three PJ Library kids, stopped by with her family to browse books. “The book swap was such a GREAT event!  We had such a great time and left with so many good books,” she said.  “The kids were so happy!  I hope you will make this an annual or even semi-annual event. We have a ton of books I can donate to the next one.”

“The kids have loved the books. Some we have been reading as bedtime books, and others the kids have simply picked up to read or look at on their own,” said Wendy Kleinman, parent of two PJ Library children. “They were especially fascinated by Jean Lafitte: The Pirate Who Saved America, so a big thank you to whoever donated that one! We haven’t read them all yet but I was really grateful for the opportunity to pick up some new books for free, both Jewish and secular, that I thought would interest our children.”

The remaining books will be donated to free libraries, and thanks to volunteer Jamie Magdovitz Johnson, many were donated to the Black Clergy Collaborative of Memphis, among other organizations. 

If your child is not already enrolled in PJ Library, a free program that sends Jewish-themed books to children from 0-12 years every month, we hope you’ll sign them up: If you have any questions, email Federation’s Miriam Roochvarg at

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Though her hometown of Augusta, Georgia’s Jewish community was tiny, Memphis Lion of Judah Jeri Moskovitz nonetheless enjoyed an abundance of Jewish engagement opportunities because of intentional decisions by her parents. Her JCC President dad, Haskell Toporek, and Hadassah President mom, Dale, made sure Jeri and her siblings were plugged in and Jewishly engaged.

“Our parents wanted us to have Jewish connections, which was not easy in Augusta. They made sure it happened,” said Jeri. “We were very involved with BBYO. I went on a BBYO trip to Israel in high school. They also sent us all to Jewish camps, Blue Star and Barney Medintz. We were very involved at the Augusta JCC. We went to JCC day camp in the summer, and every Jewish kid in Augusta swam on the JCC swim team.”

Jeri and her siblings also showed early ambitions as leaders, each being elected president of their elementary and/or middle schools.  Jeri points again to the influence of her parents in fostering these aspects of her personality and leadership abilities.

“There were discussions at the dinner table. We ate together every night, the six of us. Mom would leave early for a Hadassah meeting, or Dad was going to be late because of a meeting of some sort. I knew my parents were going to meetings. I knew they were involved,” she said.

She met her husband Mitch, a Memphian, as an undergrad at University of Georgia, and the two relocated to Memphis to attend the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Eager to plug in and make connections in Jewish Memphis, Jeri immediately became a BBYO advisor here.

“It’s funny, but I’m friends now with people who were in BBYO when I was their advisor,” she said.  

Talk about plugging in; concurrent to launching her law career, mostly doing bankruptcy creditors work, she rolled up her sleeves and went all in as a volunteer and lay-leader, doing her small part to help shape Jewish Memphis. By her mid-20s, she sat on the Memphis Jewish Federation board and a few short years later received Federation’s Rabbi Arie Becker Young Leadership Award.

Jeri served on Federation’s Community Grants Committee for 15 years, while also contributing to various committees and subordinate boards along the way. Today, she serves on the boards for both Bornblum Jewish Community School and Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab, despite the fact that her kids, Mallory and Matthew, attended in the days it was known as Solomon Schechter, and she has yet to have a loved one require the services of MJH&R. Lately, she’s even involved as a volunteer in city government, working on Mayor Jim Strickland’s first campaign and now serving on the Downtown Memphis Commission’s Center City Revenue Finance Corporation.

While serving in these various leadership positions, Jeri began to feel a connection to a convergence of her interests and her passion through event planning. Some of her favorite events that she helped plan were Federation’s Chopped cooking competition event in 2014, Bornblum’s (then Solomon Schechter) memorable Dancing with the Stars, and Jewish Family Service’s This is Where I Leave You Movie Night fundraisers, before the organization bore the Fogelman name. She loves continuing to annually plan the successful Morris and Mollye Fogelman International Jewish Film Festival.  

“I love it when people say ‘Wow, that was fun’ or ‘That was so creative,’” she said. “I’m social and enjoy having a good time. I appreciate bringing events to fruition, and seeing people enjoy being together around a common cause.”

In 2017, Jeri stopped practicing law and it was around then that she became a Memphis Lion of Judah. Always a donor to Federation’s Annual Campaign, she had been a Pomegranate for a number of years when she and Mitch felt the time was right to increase their giving level.

“Before I joined, I perceived the Lions as a group of women who were strong leaders in the community, women that wanted to make a difference. They were on boards with me, they were involved in the things I did, and I aspired to be part of the Lions,” said Jeri. “Women who are drawn to Lion of Judah do it simply because they want to help in any way they are able, and I felt that deeply.”

“Our Lions represent a wide range of women with a multitude types of backgrounds. It’s a bright, intelligent, driven group, and the kind of women with whom you would want to surround yourself. We share a goal of making a difference in the world, with a significant focus on Memphis,” she said.

Officially becoming a Lion was an emotional moment for Jeri, and she remembers vividly seeing her pin for the first time. After all of the years of giving of herself both financially and as a volunteer, she had arrived to a donation level she had strived to reach.

And to the woman who today finds herself in Jeri’s shoes a decade ago, outside of the powerful sisterhood of Lions but knowing in her heart she will someday step up, she offers a bit of advice.

“Stay active, focus on what you need to at this time in your life. The Lions will be there for you when you are ready, hopefully sooner than you envisioned. There will come a time when you say ‘I’m ready, and I’m there, and it’s time to surround myself with these outstanding women,’” she said.

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In a strangely disconnected year, Dot Bilsky has relied on her long affiliation with the Memphis Jewish Federation Lions of Judah as a way to stay connected to the people and places she loves in Jewish Memphis.

“I became a Lion because my husband signed me up, and I am very grateful he did. With the support of Federation, Lion of Judah identifies needs and gives people like me a chance to do the most good with greater impact,” she said. “And now with the pandemic, the Lions are even more active because there’s more need. We respond to what’s out there. That’s what it means to be part of this sisterhood.”

A long-time Lion, Dot serves on the LOJ Tikkun Olam Committee, serves on Federation’s Senior Services Collaborative, is involved in her synagogue, and has even become something of a volunteer IT support professional for an expanding circle of friends and acquaintances during the quarantine. She has a habit of stepping in to help others meet needs and is grateful for the many opportunities provided to make a difference.

She offers the Lion’s recent Baby Shower initiative as an example of how she benefits from her connections. Led by the Tikkun Olam Committee, the Shower was launched to help Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service at the Memphis Jewish Community Center stock its brand-new Baby Pantry, designed to ensure families in the community have access to the essentials needed to care for babies and young children.

“The Baby Shower proves my point about what Federation does for me as a Lion. I didn’t know there were babies in our community needing help, nor could I have done anything about it without the support of Federation and the Lions,” she said. “We got the word out and took in an enormous amount of supplies for the Baby Pantry. That’s the Lions. They want to do things that help. And when you ask them, they go above and beyond.”

Dot had another first-hand glimpse of the connecting power of Federation as a peripheral player in this summer’s Tech Buddy initiative, designed to help seniors in the community stay connected through technology. 

“Part of my job at Memphis City Schools and later with Apple Computers was to help people use computers in the classroom,” she said. “I got involved helping people with their new Federation-provided iPads through the back door. I’m in a book club and two of the people couldn’t participate.  I made pictures of ipad screens and added arrows to show where to click and how to get to the home screen, the mail envelope, and how to read an email or join a Zoom meeting. Word got out and people asked me to help with different things. The initial training they got from the Tech Buddy was excellent, but I was able to help them do new things they wanted to learn.”

“Just yesterday I helped a friend of mine get online because she wanted to join a Beth Sholom seniors discussion group on Zoom,” she said. “We were going down the projects that Beth Sholom had planned and while she was scanning through the list, she said: ‘Oh my gosh, Baron Hirsch is making sandwiches- we always did that.’”

“I said ‘Yeah, but this year people are doing it from home.’ She said ‘I want to do it!’  So she helped Baron Hirsch make sandwiches.”

Ultimately, Dot’s connection to the community through the Lions is precious to her, and something she doesn’t take for granted. It’s through this sisterhood that she is able to satisfy her urge to help people in the community in a meaningful way.

“I’ve helped with things that I didn’t even know were problems before Federation directed us there,” she said.  “As Lions, we not only want to give money, we want to be involved.  That’s how a lot of the women feel.  The Federation identifies needs and organizes us to make a bigger impact.  I am most grateful for what Federation and the Lions do for me and others like myself.”

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Momentum is swelling behind a group of young adults – some new to Memphis, others born and raised here – committed to Memphis Jewish Federation’s efforts to care for, connect, and engage Jewish people of all ages through a wide array of programs and services.

Formerly known as YAD (the Young Adult Division of Memphis Jewish Federation) FedLED emerged this year after a strategic rebranding process. Driven by young professional volunteer leaders from the Memphis Jewish community, FedLED’s work focuses on leadership, education, and fundraising. FedLED Co-Chairs Jaclyn Marshall and Martin Klazmer recruited a council whose members Emily Lennon, Jana Weiskopf, Daniel Snyder, and advisors Jason Goldstein and Aviva Freiden, are collaborating to craft opportunities to elevate young adult leadership to the next level.

After a series of popular and well attended FedLED virtual networking breakfasts for young professionals, the first open-to-the public program will be the FedLED Children’s Clothing Sale, to be held January 31 under the MJCC Pavilion. Donations of gently used children’s clothing and shoes are already being accepted at the Jewish Community Partners offices, inside the MJCC.

“As someone who is a direct product of what this community has provided, I’ve naturally always had the desire to nourish and nurture the community myself,” said native Memphian Martin. “Now as an adult who has returned to Memphis with my own family, the timing is right and the opportunity is here with FedLED. Younger people in this community need to know that older generations are looking to us to step up and be involved in whatever capacity we are able and FedLED will serve as a stepping stone for those who are. I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this organization.”

Unlike Martin, Jaclyn is a newer Memphian, and had not been involved in Jewish communal activities in California. “There was not much sense of community living in San Francisco,” she said. “In Memphis, I met moms with small kids through my own children, and now we see each other all the time.”

From these first feelings of belonging to a cohesive Jewish community, Jaclyn eventually made her way to Federation. Her first in-depth conversation with a Federation staff member opened her eyes to the organization’s tireless efforts in Jewish Memphis. “It was mind blowing,” she said. “I not only wanted to give money but wanted to give more of my time.”

She was asked to serve as a co-moderator for a Federation Women’s Philanthropy program, interviewing Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, founder of OPI Nail Lacquer, in the MJCC’s Belz Social Hall. The well-attended event sparked a new interest in Federation activities throughout the community for Jaclyn, leading her to FedLED.

“Our goal is to hold a series of fundraising events – big and small – that get people excited,” said Jaclyn. “By creating exciting events, like wine and whisky tastings, we’ll offer fun ways for people to give back while learning about Federation. It’s important to introduce our generation to the Federation model of community support through donations, and help cultivate a culture of long-term donors for decades to come.”

Having had successful experiences with clothing sales back in California, Jaclyn thought a similar initiative would be a good fit for a key FedLED demographic- Jewish parents. In addition to offering something they need, the event would also be an excellent platform to introduce FedLED to potential members.

FedLED’s Children’s Clothing Sale will be held Sunday, January 31, 1:00 to 4:00 P.M., under the MJCC Pavilion. Federation is accepting donations of gently used children’s clothing and shoes Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. at the Jewish Community Partners office, located at 6560 Poplar Ave, inside the MJCC. Donated items will be sorted and sold at the socially distanced clothing sale at the end of the month. Proceeds from the clothing sale will go towards Federation’s Home-Delivered Meals Program for isolated seniors. Masks and social distancing will be strictly enforced.

FedLED is also looking for volunteers to help sort clothing ahead of the sale and to staff the sale itself. Tasks include sorting donated goods into different categories, setting up stations at the sale, and helping with touch-free payment transactions. To volunteer, email or call Sophie Bloch, Director of Young Adult Leadership, or 901-452-2453.

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Memphis Jewish Federation announces an official partnership between their Lion of Judah program and Memphis icons Mednikow Jewelers. Announced Friday, November 6, Mednikow is now the official Jeweler of the Memphis Lions of Judah. 

For many years, Mednikow Jewelers has been the jeweler partner of Federation’s Lions of Judah. Bob (right) and Jay Mednikow (left) have graciously and generously supported the Memphis Lions for decades by annually donating diamonds and other precious gems for each member’s Lion of Judah pin. As of November 6, the two entities entered an official partnership, with the goal of elevating philanthropy in Jewish Memphis.

As all Lions know, their pin is much more than a beautiful piece of jewelry. To the women who wear it, the pin is an internationally recognized symbol of philanthropy, commitment, Jewish values, and sisterhood.

Established in Memphis in 1891 by Russian immigrant Jacob Mednikow, the business operated downtown for many years, first from a location on Second Street, directly across from the Peabody Hotel and today operates from its East Memphis location on Perkins Extd.

“Mednikow is a family-owned jewelry store with an international reputation for excellence,” said Lion of Judah co-chair Debbie B. Lazarov. “Bob, president emeritus, and his son, Jay, president, have been serving generations of customers with beauty, quality, integrity, and imagination guiding their outstanding level of service for so many years.”

The Memphis Lions of Judah have been the beneficiaries of that service and the Mednikows’ commitment to their mission.

According to Jay, “The Lion of Judah pin recognizes the kind and courageous hearts of those who wear them with well-deserved pride. We are honored to have donated and set hundreds of diamonds to your noble program, making a significant piece of jewelry grow even more beautiful through the passing years.”

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This Wednesday, we joined two online sessions with Memphis Jewish seniors, both supported by donor gifts made to Memphis Jewish Federation. First, we enjoyed the friendly conversation during the 12:00 P.M. daily Senior Lunch Bunch, followed by an interactive session with Jason Caplan’s Universal Language Room, which teaches non-verbal communication and togetherness through improvisational music.

There wasn’t much lunch being eaten at a recent Senior Lunch Bunch Zoom get-together, hosted by Steve Kaplan, Adult Services Coordinator at the MJCC. Instead, the dozen faces smiling from small digital boxes on our computer screen chatted about their grandkids, their tomato plants, the French Impressionist movement, and social distancing while running errands.

“Hi, everyone,” said Annabelle Kaplan, waving to us as she joined the Zoom session. “I didn’t think I’d get home in time to join. I had to take something I ordered online back to the store, so I called and they said, yes I could bring it to the store. When I got there I waited six feet apart in the line, and they said I had to get a mailing label and mail it in myself, all these extra steps. And pay postage both ways!”

The commiserating groans of understanding were like warm hugs across the digital divide.

The group, which varies in participants from day to day but consistently draws between 6 and 15 Memphis Jewish seniors, has been meeting online since March, when the MJCC closed to the public in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the long weeks since, the Lunch Bunch has adapted to the digital platform, and now the sessions have a comfy, familiar feel, with casual conversations and friendly gossiping that builds from day to day.

“I really enjoy this, and they do, too,” said Steve Kaplan. “It’s a nice group of people and I can tell it means a lot to them. Particularly in the first weeks, when it was almost like after 9/11 and people were so uncertain about what would happen in the days ahead. The Lunch Bunch almost became a daily group therapy session.”

An hour later, we logged into Jason Caplan’s Universal Language Room session, where we found him waiting for us, tuning his white Fender Stratocaster.

This was a smaller session than the first, but Lunch Bunch regulars Dolly Mahante and Susan Meyers were there with their Boomwhackers, a hollow percussion instrument designed to play a note and rhythm with a whack against the palm of the hand. Universal Language Room provides these and other instruments to seniors.

Watch a recording of the interactive music session here. If you have an instrument, play along!

“We’ve had sessions with this group since September, back when we could gather in person with sessions every other week. We’ve been online since March,” said Jason. “With Steve’s group, everyone started with Boomwhackers and now we’ve moved on to melodic instruments.”

The program is not only about training people in music. Universal Language Room trains people to trust a non-verbal language that can develop through a musical rapport, empowering participants to spend time in the meditative state that Jason says typically happens at about minute ten.

“When we stay outside of language, it’s so exciting. We all live together in the moment with music as our dialogue,” he said. “There are two ways non-verbal togetherness affects a person. First is peace in the mind, so that our minds that run about all day thinking about this problem, and that happened in the past, and what happens in the future, get locked in the moment and the constantly changing music and you live in the moment.”

“The second is that I feel our society is moving to a place where you can’t have dialogue about things people disagree with. I want people to feel the joy of dialogue without disagreement,” Jason said. “But if you learn to do this with music first, maybe you can get to a place where you can say, ‘you know, I really like talking to you. We may disagree on important issues and agree on others, but I like talking to you.’”

“We need more of that right now,” he said.

“We’re all hoping we’ll be able to get together in person soon, and we’re all praying for that day,” Jason said as he signed off from the session. The budding musicians smiled and waved, and agreed.

If you’re a Jewish Memphis senior and would like to be part of the daily lunches or future Universal Language Room sessions, or know someone who does, email Steve Kaplan at You can also contact Steve if you need a mask. 

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Thank you for your unwavering support

Dear Hillels of Memphis supporters,

We hope this letter finds you and your family safe and healthy. As you know, we had planned for the theme of this year’s Yiddishe Cup to be “My Hillel Story” to highlight the important role Hillel has played in developing Jewish leaders, role models and philanthropists in the Memphis Jewish community.

While we always anticipate the possibility of rain at the event, we could have never anticipated the current health crisis we are facing. As difficult as this time has been for all of us, it is surely a moment in our Hillel Story that we will never forget as the leaders of tomorrow – our current college students, whom you generously support – are shaped by the example of resilience and dedication they are witnessing from around the Memphis Jewish Community. While many Hillels around the world are suffering as a result of this crisis, Hillels of Memphis is securely positioned to carry on fueling Jewish life on campus, both physically and virtually.

Even though we were unable to hold the Yiddishe Cup in person this year, your generous support will still benefit Hillels of Memphis.

Proceeds from the Yiddishe Cup – Hillels of Memphis’s primary fundraiser – benefit students at University of Memphis and Rhodes College through educational programs, social events, Shabbat meals and much more. While we won’t be able to celebrate the successes of Hillel together in person this year, we are honored to have your unwavering generosity during a time when students most need to feel supported.

Thank you!

Sophie Bloch – Director, Hillels of Memphis

Carolyn Schrier- Yiddishe Cup Co-Chair

Daniel Snyder- Yiddishe Cup Co-Chair

Wendy Rotter- Advisory Board Chair, Rhodes Hillel

Hal Fogelman- Advisory Board Chair, U of M Hillel

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Launched in late 2017 under the leadership of Memphis Jewish Federation (MJF)’s Senior Services Collaborative (SSC), the Senior Services Directory quickly become a reliable resource for seniors and their caregivers in the Memphis Jewish Community. Packed with information about services, activities, and programming provided to area seniors and the important people in their lives, the initial run of the 8-panel brochure was instantly popular.

Fast forward about two years and the SSC’s supply of 3,000 copies of the brochure had been been depleted. Partner agencies distributing the brochure reached out to MJF requesting more copies of this invaluable central source of information about the robust senior programming available throughout the Memphis Jewish community. To continue meeting this need, Memphis Jewish Federation has recently updated and reprinted the brochure, which now more accurately reflects the landscape of senior services and program offerings at senior-serving agencies and local congregations.

A large-print, glossy quad-fold brochure with a comprehensive listing of senior services provided by the Memphis Jewish community, the Senior Services Directory is broken down into categories such as Vital Needs, Companionship, Transportation, and Wellness. The SSC also made this information available in digital form at, which is updated as needed. Many local seniors and their caregivers have likely received brochures mailed directly to homes, but copies are also available at local congregations and agencies serving Jewish seniors, and at senior independent living and assisted living facilities, geriatric medical offices, and hospitals.

The update and reprint was funded in part by a B’nai Tzedek teen philanthropy grant and by two donors giving anonymously through Jewish Foundation of Memphis’s Needs List, a popular resource for donors looking to make a meaningful impact on philanthropic causes important to them. The office of Jewish Community Partners, the agency that operates both Memphis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Foundation of Memphis, also has copies of the brochure for distribution. Visit JCP at 6560 Poplar Avenue, inside the Memphis Jewish Community Center. We can also mail one to you. Send an email with your name and address and we’ll send a copy your way.

The Senior Services Directory is a model case-study of a successful collaboration. Our agencies and congregations submitted information about their respective senior services and SSC members made valuable editorial suggestions and recommendations,” said Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein, JCP’s Chief Strategy Officer. “It is these kinds of collaborations that move the needle in a community.” 

The SSC was formed in November 2015 in the wake of Memphis Jewish Federation’s 2014-2015 Community Needs Assessment Study, which identified the challenge of delivering accessible and meaningful programming to seniors. The committee is comprised of representatives from all agencies interfacing with Jewish seniors, congregations, retired Jewish senior professionals, and community volunteers passionate about senior services. Since its inception, the SSC has made significant progress not only in expanding the menu of programs and services available to seniors, but also in ensuring that seniors in the Memphis Jewish community are aware of the programming that exists.

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By Audrey May

Intake, Referral & Volunteer CoordinatorWendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service at the Memphis Jewish Community Center

Seniors and their caregivers can find it challenging to navigate through change. Someone has a serious illness. Someone stops driving. Someone has a fall and breaks a bone. A friend or family member who was providing support is no longer available. Suddenly, there’s a crisis.

In these moments, it’s important to know that getting the help you need is easy. The Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service (FJFS) at the Memphis Jewish Community Center (MJCC) is here to help. With one call, we will get you connected to a service provided by us, by the MJCC, other community organizations, or the best service provider for your needs.

I work with an awesome group of other people here at FJFS, and we’re always willing to help in whatever way we can. We’re not only knowledgeable and helpful, but we’re also completely confidential.

With one call to our main number, 901-767-8511, FJFS staff will respond quickly to assess your needs and respond to your questions.  I give clients all the time that they need to tell me their story. We have a conversation and I listen to what’s going on and what their concerns are. Next, I’ll ask a few questions to determine if a person would be eligible for one of our programs, or something else. This confidential conversation is all about making sure we connect each client to the best services for their needs. We only want the client to share as much as they feel comfortable discussing in order to get the right services for their needs.

For example, if it’s clear that our Shalom Shuttle would be perfect for them, I’ll tell them a little about that. I can do an intake over the phone, right then, if they’d like to enroll. If there are other services that we provide I can often do an immediate referral. Perhaps you or a Jewish senior you know could benefit from kosher home-delivered meals, or help from an expert, supportive case manager to more easily navigate life’s challenges. Or perhaps you want to volunteer in a meaningful way. Just give us a call to explore the options.

Sometimes we need to do a little bit of research. Give us a day or so and we’ll get back to you. If a client is in need of a service FJFS doesn’t provide, we are connected to many established government and non-profit organizations. If someone needs in-home caregivers or elder law attorneys, for example, we offer options to empower our clients to make the right choice for them and their family.

It’s about matching a client to a provider that will meet their needs, but also their lifestyle, income, and cultural point of view. It’s sort of a matchmaker service. I don’t recommend to you the best doctor who specializes in what you need. I offer you choices so you can make an informed choice about what’s best for you.

People often call looking for counseling, and we have really terrific counselors on staff at FJFS. We’re able to see clients on a self-pay, sliding scale basis. We’re a good option for people who are looking for counseling in a place that is culturally sensitive to the Jewish community. The first session is always free because we want the community member to determine whether it’s a good match. Counseling is a very personal thing. But because we don’t accept insurance, we have other resources to check into that will lead to other suggestions for counselors, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other professionals who work with different issues and can accept your insurance or Medicare.

FJFS matters because all of us need help sometimes. Even the people who are the most giving, the most busy, the most engaged in the community- and that describes a lot of people in the Jewish community in Memphis- all of us need help sometimes. Or perhaps a friend needs help that’s outside of your areas of expertise. What better place to look for that help than an agency that’s at the hub of the Jewish community?

That’s why we’re here. Our goal is to help the community remain as vital, engaged, and healthy as it can be.

To get information about available programs and services, call the Fogelman Jewish Family Service at the MJCC at 901-767-8511.

As an integral part of the Jewish community, the Wendy and Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service (FJFS) at the Memphis Jewish Community Center (MJCC) provides an array of compassionate social services and a connection to any additional services needed. FJFS forms collaborative relationships with clients to enhance your well-being and help you thrive, offering classes and support groups, counseling, emergency assistance, a Kosher Food Pantry, a resource center, senior adult care, support for Holocaust survivors, transportation, special needs services, volunteer opportunities and more. Learn more here.  

Your gift to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Annual Community Campaign supports FJFS with vital funds. Memphis Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Memphis can also work with you and your family to financially support FJFS in other ways. Call 901-767-7100 to learn more.

A Memphis native and social worker, Audrey is a senior herself and passionate about helping seniors get the information and services they need, as well as working with our wonderful volunteers to do meaningful work in the Jewish community.  She is a book nerd who spent eight years running a bookstore and nineteen years as a manager at the Memphis Public Library’s LINC/2-1-1 social service information service.  She is also involved with the local AARP Livable Community initiative seeking to improve life for seniors in Shelby County and is the Interim Chair of the Senior Services Committee at OUTMemphis working with LGBTQ seniors. When she’s not in Memphis, she is probably in Florida happily reading with her nine-year old granddaughter.

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