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Community members came together on the evening of October 21st to review the past year and anticipate the future of Jewish Collaborative Services (JCS). Although the continued pandemic meant that JCS’s fourth annual meeting remained virtual, this did not dampen the feeling of connection and collaboration for all who “attended”.

The “Did You Know?” format presented by Marisa Garber, Board Chair of JCS, and Dan ‘did you know’ Gamm, widely known for his “Did You Know” skits on YouTube (link to montage here), enriched the evening by providing fun and informative facts of Jewish tradition, history, and culture at transitional moments in the program.

“Did you know,” said Dan Gamm, as part of the opening remarks, “that since the 1900s the writing of the Torah has been standardized, 248 columns of 42 lines each, the last three words of the Torah must be on their own line.” He continued, “for at least the past 1,000 years every separate Torah has had the exact same words and letters-304,805 letters to be precise. It can take a full day to make one column and up to 3 years to write a full Torah.”

Rabbi Preston “Pesach” D. Neimeiser of Temple Beth El, in Providence, gave the D’var Torah, which focused on the story of Abraham with comparison to how JCS embodies the Jewish values of this ancestor. Rabbi Neimeiser stated that just like Abraham sprang into action to help those who reached out to him, so does JCS, “with unending compassion and dedication.”

Neimeiser spoke of how JCS continues to be a source of hope and strength, elevating the community through our commitment to Tikkun Olam (repairing the world). “JCS is a tireless advocate for those in need of advocacy,” said Neimeiser, “Not just in what you do but the way you do it, your value of compassionate service (Sherutei Rachamim), and honoring the individual (B’Tzelem Elokim), provides a meaningful framework for all of JCS’s work.” He continued, “JCS’ work enables residents of Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts to truly experience the wonder of Kehillah (community), and to feel they are members of a supportive and inclusive community. Thank you for all you do.”

The President and CEO of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island Adam Greenman spoke about the partnership between the Alliance and JCS throughout the pandemic. He stated that over the course of the past eighteen months JCS has led efforts to address the needs of the community, pivoting to meet changing needs. “We are so proud to partner with JCS,” said Greenman, “We are all working together to create a stronger and more vibrant community.” He identified the importance of socialization especially in the senior community and proudly announced the reopening of the Kosher Senior Café, which reopened safely this Fall to in-person options. Virtual zoom programming continues to be offered twice a week for those who remain homebound.

Marketing & Communications Manager Jessica Murphy prepared a lively and informative video that was moderated by Marissa Garber and President and CEO Erin Minior. Here is a summary of key components from the 2021 year in review. (To watch the full video, click here)

With kindness and inclusiveness, JCS served over 5,000 individuals within 13 diverse programs and housings both in the Jewish and larger community.
• To help support individuals and families in need during the pandemic, over 754 households accounting for 1,028 individuals benefited from JCS wave distributions.
• Through Moes Chitim, over $8,000 in gift cards was shared among 132 families to help with food purchases during Passover.
• 8,000 bags of nutritious food were distributed to individuals and families through the Kosher Food Pantry.
• Over 16,000 meals were prepared and delivered to seniors in their homes through the Kosher Nutrition Program; Seniors were also kept engaged through Kosher Senior Café zoom programming offered two times a week.
• More than 1,000 Lifeline RI clients were served, including 1600 responses to calls for incidents.
• The Counseling Center provided more than 2,000 counseling sessions, either in person or through telehealth.
• Tamarisk maintained a 100 percent vaccination rate among tenants and staff.

To close the year-in-review video Garber and Minior noted that, “JCS as a combined agency of Jewish Senior Agency and Jewish Family Service has over 200 years of commitment to the community. The services we provide have a ripple effect on our community. Providing these essential services, especially in times of crisis gives our community members not only the confidence in themselves but the confidence to go on and help others in their community and beyond.”

CFO Renee St. John summarized the treasurer’s report of income and expenses of JCS, Tamarisk, and Shalom Apartments, and identified COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government.

Friends of Jewish Seniors (FJS) President, Niecie Weiner, gave a report and discussed FJS integration with JCS, and stressed their continued focus on supporting seniors through the JERI program.

Nominating Committee report was provided by Mindy Stone, who presented the names of the newly elected board members (each to a three-year term): Matthew Blank, Christine Cannata, and Robin Engle. Renewing their terms for an additional three years were: Richard Licht, Elaine Farber Budish, Myrna Levine, Deborah Mandell, and Niecie Weiner. 2021-2022 individuals to serve as officers were Marisa Garber as Chair, Mindy Stone as Vice-Chair, Richard Licht as Treasurer, and Minna Ellison as Secretary.

The program concluded with the presentation of the Maurice Glicksman Leadership Award and the Ruth & W. Irving Wolf Jr. Award for Multi-generational Philanthropy

The Ruth & W. Irving Wolf Jr. Award for Multigenerational Philanthropy is given when an individual or family has illustrated an extraordinary and consistent commitment to the JCS mission through philanthropy and advocacy, passed through the generations. This year two extraordinary families-the Weiner/Gerstein Family and the Berkelhammer/Krause/Rossman families were honored for embodying these principles.

The Maurice Glicksman Leadership Award is presented to an individual who demonstrates the leadership qualities exemplified by Dr. Glicksman, President of JSA from 2000 to 2003. The award specifically recognizes and honors an exceptional individual for his or her continuing commitment to the Jewish elderly in Rhode Island. This year’s recipient, Roberta Ragge, Executive Director of The Phyllis Siperstein Tamarisk Assisted Living, embodies all the attributes of this award and more. To learn about the recipients of these prestigious awards, click here.

In their closing remarks, Marisa and Dan thanked everyone for attending the evening and maintained hope that we will all be able to come together, in person, to celebrate next year’s annual meeting.

To view the annual report, click here.

To view the year-in-review video, click here.

To watch the entire meeting, click here.

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