Thanks to the generosity of legacy donors, Jewish Family Services of Northeastern New York was able to award five scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students to help with college-related expenses. To be considered for a scholarship, applicants were asked to write a brief essay on their understanding of Jewish Family Services’ impact on the community and suggest innovative ways for college-aged people to support JFS’s mission of serving those in need.

The 2022-23 Awardees:

SARAH BEARDEN was awarded $2,000 from the Hessberg Trust. She is a sophomore at Columbia University studying Civil Engineering.

AVITAL DAVDA received $1,000 from the JFS Combined Scholarship Fund*. She is a graduate student at Pace University studying Environmental Science & Policy, and Biology and Health Science.

DAVID BERIN was awarded $1,000 from the David and Rose Udelson Bray Scholarship Fund. Hailing from Bethlehem, he is currently a sophomore at UCLA studying Psychobiology on a pre med track.

DALIA LEVY received $1,000 from the David and Rose Udelson Bray Scholarship Fund. She is a freshman at Northeastern University studying to be a nurse.

ETHAN ROSENBLUM  received $1,000 from the JFS Combined Scholarship Fund*. He is a freshman at the University of Albany majoring in Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity and minoring in Hebrew.

“Leaving a legacy can be done in many ways. It is particularly special to leave a portion of a person’s estate to a charitable organization for the good use of the organization and related uses, said Jane Ginsburg, president & CEO at JFS. “We are honored to steward planned gifts from donors who established scholarships in their Wills for the organization to distribute.”

For more information on establishing a planned gift in your estate to benefit the important services JFS provides, please contact Jane Ginsburg at 518-516-1101 or

Since 1854, Jewish Family Services has continuously provided a range of support, services and resources to individuals, families, and seniors throughout the Greater Capital Region. Services include kosher home-delivered meals; groceries and essentials delivery; private transportation for Jewish seniors; telehealth counseling sessions and virtual discussion and support groups for all ages; occupational therapy for life enrichment; aging in place support and programs; and long-term care guidance. The mission of JFS NENY is to enrich the lives of individuals, families, and the community by providing compassionate, collaborative human services, guided by Jewish values.


*This fund is currently made up of the following funds: Frederick DeBeer Scholarship, Jewish Family Services Scholarship, Beatrice B. Levy Scholarship, George M. Simon Scholarship (restricted to a resident of Albany) and the Eli Werlin Scholarship.

Every Tuesday in November, JFS will host one-hour virtual workshops to help participants prepare for the phase of life when they are aging and inevitably aging solo. Preparation Age: Prepare for the Expected and Unexpected will feature guest speakers with expertise in aging, estate law, occupational therapy, gerontology, palliative and hospice  care, funeral services and more.
The idea to host this series came from the community. “We are getting more and more calls from individuals and families, particularly as they face tough aging decisions or even crisis, asking, “What happens now?,” said Jane Ginsburg, JFS president and CEO. As the program manager of the JFS Senior Resource Network, Lynda Shrager knows all too well about helping families through a crisis. “So many people are dealing with aging-related issues and many are trying to navigate alone said Shrager. “There are many obstacles but these workshops will teach people how to plan, thus alleviating some of the stress.  The topics were chosen to impart information from living safely at home through preparing for end of life.

HERE is the series flyer.

Prepare to Age Smart & Live Safely in Your Home – Nov. 1, 2022 – 7-8 p.m.
The introduction to the series begins with a  personal account of someone thrust intro solo aging through  the sudden death of a spouse.  Then discover the best home modifications including organizing to live safely at home. Facilitated by Carol Bloom and Lynda Shrager, OTR, MSW, CAPS, JFS Senior Resource Network, Program Manager. Author of: Age in Place: A Guide to Modifying, Organizing and Decluttering Mom and Dad’s Home.

Prepare to Stay Connected – Nov. 8, 2022 – 7-8 p.m.
Learn resources for driving assessments and alternative sources for getting around. Hear about age-friendly communities — utilizing community agencies and resources and building connections. Facilitated by Peggy Osborne, Town of Bethlehem, Seniors Services Coordinator and Jennifer Plouffe, LMSW, JFS NNORC, Program Director.

Prepare for Financial & Legal Matters – Nov. 15, 2022 – 7-8 p.m.
A discussion about the fundamentals of estate planning, powers of attorney and advance directives. Get guidance on important documents and where to store them.
Facilitated by Myles Fischer, Esq., Harris Beach, PLLC, Partner

Prepare to Maintain Health & Wellness – Nov. 22, 2022 – 7-8 p.m.
Learn about age-related health concerns including managing a chronic illness, basic exercise, diet and wellness. Understand various health offerings for 65+ including Medicare and insurance sign-up assistance. Facilitated by Michael L. Wolff, MD, FACP, Community Care Physicians, Internist/ Geriatrician and Jane Sanders, LMSW, Bethlehem Senior Services, Former Executive Director.

Prepare for End of Life – Nov. 29, 2022 – 7-8 p.m.
Hear about palliative care and hospice services offerings.. Get a checklist for what needs to be in place when someone dies, as well as advance funeral preparation and paperwork. Facilitated by Caitlin St. George, The Community Hospice, St. Peter’s Health Partners, Provider Relations Supervisor and Mark Levine, Levine Memorial Chapel, Inc., Owner/Director.

Preparation Age takes place virtually, via Zoom, though people can call in. The series is free, but JFS requests a suggested donation of $10 per session here.

There are three ways to register:

We are grateful to our program sponsors: 


JFS scholarships of $500-$1,000 are now available to support Jewish students with college-related expenses. Scholarships are made possible by:

  • The David and Rose Udelson Bray Scholarship Fund
  • The Hessberg Trust
  • Axelrod – Lichenstein Scholarship Award
  • DeBeer Scholarship Fund
  • Levi Fund
  • Charles and Anne K. Lieberman Scholarship Fund
  • Ludwig Fund
  • Harriet I. Nathan and Murray R. Nathan Scholarship Fund
  • National Council of Jewish Women Scholarship Fund
  • George and Marcia Simon Scholarship Fund
  • Eli Werlin Fund
  • The JFS Scholarship Fund*

Eligibility requirements vary per scholarship. Students must be residents of Albany, the surrounding area, or attend college or graduate school locally. Applicants must be at least 17 years old and be currently enrolled in an accredited college or university for the 2022-2023 academic year.

To be considered for a 2022-23 JFS scholarship, applicants must complete a brief online form , which includes writing a brief essay on

  1. Their understanding of Jewish Family Services’ impact on and for the community, and
  2. Suggest innovative ideas on how college students can support the mission of JFS and serve those in need.

Preference will be given to applicants who express interest in volunteering with JFS.

The deadline is Thursday, October 20, 2022.

The recipients will be selected from submissions and will be awarded their scholarship in late October. Please note we may choose to use the winning entry in JFS publicity and marketing communications.

* This fund is currently made up of the following funds: Frederick DeBeer Scholarship, Jewish Family Services Scholarship, Beatrice B. Levy Scholarship, George M. Simon Scholarship (restricted to a resident of Albany) and the Eli Werlin Scholarship.

Apply online here.


Hugging is back!

Now you can send a holiday hug to your favorite people. Just complete THIS FORM and we will send a handwritten postcard to the people of your choice…from YOU!

JFS hugs our community in so many ways:

  • Delivering kosher meals
  • Providing counseling and support
  • Offering resources to families to help with aging parents
  • Shopping and delivering groceries
  • Drive seniors to medical appointments
  • And so much more.

Sending holiday hugs supports our vital services and spreads joy in the new year.

Want to call in your hugs order instead? Contact Christina Murray at 518-516-1102 and she will take care of it for you!


Volunteer Application Part 1

Please indicate your preferred pronouns:(Required)
MM slash DD slash YYYY
Preferred Method of Communication
Best time(s) to contact:

When is your availability to volunteer? (Please check timeslots that apply.)

Please note: we typically do not ask for volunteer services on Federal and Jewish Holidays.
Which volunteer opportunities interest you?(Required)

Thank you for taking the time to time complete this application. We are committed to provide training, resources, and support to ensure your experience is fulfilling and we value your commitment.

Please Note: All Program Volunteers are required to authorize Jewish Family Services to complete a criminal background check. If there is anything you’d like to discuss privately, please contact Rachel Gershon Rourke.

Volunteers who will be driving clients are required to submit copies of these documents: a valid driver’s license, current automobile registration, declaration page(s) from your automobile insurance, and Department of Motor Vehicle Records Research Authorization. A background check will be obtained of your driving record. You will need to include a witness signature for the permission for the Department of Motor Vehicle check.

Release and Waiver

MM slash DD slash YYYY

Our Community Volunteer Coordinator will review your application and contact you within one week of your submission.

Please complete this initial registration to be a JFS volunteer. We are so excited to meet you!

Feel free to reach out to our Community Volunteer Coordinator, Rachel Gershon Rourke:
518-722-4980, Ext. 1003 or email Rachel.

Your Name(Required)
Best time(s) to contact you:


Despite seasonally chilly Northeast weather and a few showers, over 30 dedicated JFS volunteers gathered at the outdoor pavilion at the Albany JCC for the JFS volunteer appreciation lunch.  They were acknowledged for being JFS unsung heroes – shopping and delivering groceries, driving seniors to medical appointments and errands, delivering kosher meals and contributing their expertise on the JFS board and committees.

A banner displayed several quotes from the volunteers who were asked, “What is the best part about volunteering at JFS?” One individual said, “I enjoy providing immediate comfort to someone, while connecting to my local Jewish community.” For many, it’s all about “giving back to the community,” “building friendships” and the “gratification they feel by helping others.”

“Volunteers are a vital part of service delivery at JFS,” said president and CEO Jane Ginsburg. “They are out and about directly serving members of our community.” It’s not uncommon for a volunteer to report back to us that someone they see each week might need more help. “We can refer clients to other JFS services like counseling, case management or to our Senior Resource Network,” said Ginsburg.

If you someone you know would like to volunteer with JFS, please contact us at 518-482-8856 or

Here are some photo highlights...
This year’s JFS Mensches & Mimosas virtual celebration honored 30 unsung heroes from the Capital Region, who were nominated by partner organizations from the Jewish community for their selfless dedication and leadership. As part of the celebration, Alan Iselin received the JFS Anschel Weiss Community Builders Award for serving humanity with humility.

The virtual celebration included pre-recorded videos of the Honorable Menschen who answered, “What inspires you to be a mensch?” Honorees shared inspiring tales of their organization’s members, leadership and of their volunteerism being passed down from their parents, “It was the Jewish values instilled in me as a child,” said Melanie Hecker from Congregation Ohav Shalom in Albany. Mark Koblenz from Daughters of Sarah Community for Seniors spoke about their mensch nominee Neil Manasse who embraces the organization’s core values: honoring your mother and father and performing acts of loving kindness. Ruth Facher Mendel (Congregation Beth Emeth) was interviewed by her daughter Lisa Finkle to whom Ruth passed down the tradition of serving.

Rabbi Scott Shpeen (Congregation Beth Emeth, Albany) presented Alan Iselin the JFS Anschel Weiss Community Builders Award commenting on Alan’s years of leadership in the Albany Jewish community, greater Capital Region and nationally. In accepting the award, Alan Iselin, a JFS board chair in 1966, said he is “dazzled” by the services at JFS and the breadth of their coverage. “This organization has grown, it has added services, and continues to be a wonderful [resource] for the community,” said Iselin.

Several JFS service recipients shared their gratitude to JFS. Rosyln Foote commended JFS Project 5 for giving for helping her maintain her independence by giving her private rides to appointments. Steve Lobel recounted how the JFS Senior Resource Network provided critical resources and support so that he and his sister could move their mother from Florida to Albany after some serious health issues. Lenore Kesten expressed her appreciation for receiving kosher home delivered meals, particularly because she can no longer prepare her own meals.

“Monies raised from Mensches & Mimosas help support and grow JFS services that are provided regardless of an individual’s ability to pay,” said JFS president & CEO Jane Ginsburg. “It is through the generous philanthropic support from our community that helps our programs, and in turn our community, thrive.” JFS support groups, grocery and meal delivery, and senior adult services are just some examples of programs that are provided at little or no cost to recipients.

Here’s where you can watch this year’s celebration:
Watch on the JFS YouTube Channel
Click this Screen

Many Thanks to Our “M&M” Supporters! View them here!

You can still support our honorable menschen and JFS.  Proceeds from this event help support and grow the free services we provide to our community.
  1. Click here to use our online form,
  2. Click here to print a pdf form, or
  3. Call JFS to process your credit card via phone: 518-482-8856
If you have any questions, please call Monica Tan at 518-516-1104 or email
 See a list of past Honorable Menschen here.
We are delighted to once again partner with our Jewish community institutions for our
3rd Annual Mensches & Mimosas, adding 30 more honorees to our group of unsung heroes!

Over the past two years, the annual JFS Mensches & Mimosas has recognized 49 honorable menschen from organizations throughout our region for selflessly giving their time, their passions, and their hard work to our community. 

As part of this celebration, we will present Alan Iselin with the JFS Anschel Weiss Community Builders Award for his commitment to serving humanity with humility and being a role model for future generations.

Here’s where you can watch this year’s celebration:
June 2, 2022
7:00 p.m. Mensches & Mimosas
6:55 p.m. Preshow
Watch on the JFS YouTube Channel
Watch on the JFS Facebook Page
Click this Screen

Many Thanks to Our “M&M” Supporters! View them here!

You can still support our honorable menschen and JFS.  Proceeds from this event help support and grow the free services we provide to our community.
  1. Click here to use our online form,
  2. Click here to print a pdf form, or
  3. Call JFS to process your credit card via phone: 518-482-8856
If you have any questions, please call Monica Tan at 518-516-1104 or email
 See a list of past Honorable Menschen here.

Alan Iselin is the recipient of this year’s Anschel Weiss Community Builders Award for his extensive and inspiring work as a pillar of the Albany Jewish community. Alan is an American hero and veteran, having served as Lieutenant JG in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1947. He then earned a Bachelor of Naval Science at the University of Colorado and later a Bachelor of Arts in Economics at the University of Miami.

In his professional and humanitarian life, Alan has had a long and diverse career. He worked for more than a quarter century as an investment management consultant for many high-profile foundations (Lehman Brothers, Bankers Trust Company of Albany, B.T. Capital Investment Group), earning him high accolades in New York State and beyond. Governor Mario Cuomo appointed Alan as Chairman of the SUNY Albany Council and appointed him as a member of the New York Holocaust Memorial Foundation.

Alan has been recognized and appointed to many roles by prominent local political figures, including Governor Hugh Carey; appointment to New York State Post Vietnam Coordination Committee by Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller; and appointment to the Board of Directors of the Albany Civic Auditorium by Mayor Erastus Corning. He has also served as a chairman in innumerable other institutions, such as: the Hebrew Union College Board of Governors; the College of Saint Rose Friends Annual Campaign; United Way of Northeastern New York; United Jewish Appeal; the Cerebral Palsy telethon; the Palace Theater of Performing Arts; St. Peter’s Hospital Board of Trustees; and more. He has served on the executive boards of a wide variety of organizations, including Jewish Family Services (President), the Albany Chamber of Commerce (VP), Blue Cross-Blue Shield (Director), Congregation Beth Emeth (President), Mercy Care Corp. (Board of Directors), and many more.

With his many accolades and achievements, Alan’s greatest sense of pride comes from his loving family. He was married to his dear wife, Barbara Hellman, for more than sixty years, and together they raised children Gayle, Harold, Linda, and Joanne. His 10 grandchildren are his joy and pride.

Past recipients of the Anschel Weiss Community Builders Award Herm Ungerman, David Alan Miller, Jean Becker, Amy Klein, Fred Erlich, Mara Ginsberg, Chanie Simon, Rabbi Beverly Magidson, The Golub Family, Jerry & Ilene Sykes, Michael Castellana, Steve Lobel, Morris and Esther Massry, Dr. Mark Sullivan and Representative Michael McNulty.

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