Taking the First StepOf the many Passover stories told at this time of year, one in particular reminds me of JF&CS and our mission to help vulnerable people. When the Jews were fleeing Egypt led by Moses, they found themselves at the Red Sea with the Egyptian army in hot pursuit. They had nowhere to go. If they turned around, they would be killed by the approaching Egyptians, yet the sea was impassable. No one dared approach the sea for fear of drowning. As Moses prayed, a brave man named Nachshon took the first step and walked into the water. At first, the water reached his knees, then waist, then neck, and then mouth. At the very last moment, when he was certain he would drown, the Red Sea parted and the Jews were able to make it to the other side unharmed.

Nachshon’s faith allowed him to take the first step into those threatening waters. Like Nachshon, our clients take a big first step in contacting us. JF&CS is then able to determine the next step to serve the needs of the client. Our various programs, often in combination with other Jewish and community agencies, come together so that the client’s obstacles will quickly recede just as the water receded for Nachshon at the Red Sea.

We rely on strategic partnerships with organizations such as the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and the Dorot Foundation that bring critical financial assistance to Holocaust survivors. We also depend on Combined Jewish Philanthropies and many other generous individuals and organizations to help us improve the quality of life for those most vulnerable in our community. Our Schechter Holocaust Services program helps elderly survivors of Nazi persecution with war reparation payments, Claims Conference applications, benefits, and social programming. Jewish Healing Connections provides support and solace during times of loss as well as a spiritual connection throughout life. The Friendly Visitor Program matches caring volunteers with frail, isolated elders to provide companionship and a treasured connection to the Jewish community. We offer Shabbat dinners for people with disabilities and Passover Seders for seniors and adults with mental illnesses.

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