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...

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.

A photo of Ruth Pelham

Ruth Pelham is one of America’s greatest songwriters . . . and an even better community organizer.”  -Pete Seeger, legendary folksinger and activist

Come join singer and community organizer Ruth Pelham on Wednesday May 11 at 1:00 p.m. at B’nai Sholom Congregation at 420 Whitehall Road in Albany for NNORC’S annual Older American’s Month event. This year’s event theme is “Age My Way.” As the first in-person event that NNORC will host since the onset of COVID two years ago, all NNORC residents are welcome and masks are encouraged. 

 Ruth Pelham is a familiar presence in the NNORC community through the many workshops she’s presented through the years and the original songs she’s composed, like “Remember Well,” “Engage at Any Age,” “A Taste of My Childhood Delights,” and “Turn On the Light of Love.”  Ruth’s songs are full of warmth and wit, are easy to learn and sing along with, and they embrace themes that are poignant and relevant in these challenging times. 

 For the “Age My Way” event, Ruth will invite participants to join her in singing and chatting about how we can age in our own way. This may include remaining in our homes, supporting each other as friends and chosen family, contributing our time and talents to the enrichment of our communities, and so much more. As is always a part of Ruth’s presentations, participants will also join in a hands-on activity that catalyzes individual expressions of creativity and fosters group connection and friendship.  

 For the May 11th workshop, Ruth has composed a new song called “Age My Way” that features an upbeat melody and words that affirm elder power and camaraderie. About the goals for the workshop, Ruth says, “The negative effects of ageism often echo through self-images and societal expectations that do not correspond to how we truly want our lives to be. This workshop will give voice to discovering and naming our strengths, and to casting off the messages and habits that are barriers to us each living fully.” 

To register for this program, please call 518-514-2023 or email

 Ruth Pelham lives in Albany, NY where, since 1977, she has been the founder and director of Music Mobile whose concerts, residencies, workshops, special initiatives, and international cultural exchange projects have impacted the lives of generations of Capital Region residents. Ruth is currently working on “The Music Mobile Legacy Project” that will tell the story of Music Mobile and its long history of building peaceful communities through music, learning, and community engagement.  

 Note: Ruth will be performing two concerts for children and families at the Albany Tulip Festival on Saturday, May 7 and Sunday, May 8 at the Kid Zone Stage. Concerts are free and will take place from 3:30 – 4:00 pm and 5:30 – 6:00 p.m. on both days. 


The JFS Caring for Aging parents panel provided vital information to a growing segment of the community who are now in a caregiver role.

On Tuesday, April 5th, over 50 people attended the virtual panel discussion that featured an author who wrote a book about caring for her own aging parent (BJ Rosenfeld), dispute and mediation specialist (Alice Rudnick), an occupational therapist who specializes in aging safely at home (Lynda Shrager, OTR, MSW, CAPS), a clinical social worker (Tara Hempel, LCSW-R). The latter two are part of the staff of experts at JFS who specialize in working with seniors, adults and families who are coping with life transitions.

The panel answered dozens of questions submitted by participants from accessing resources for a parent who lives in another state to having difficult conversations with aging parents to finding balance and managing stress when adult children are caring for their parents and their own families.

Clearly, the number of people who are in a caregiver role is expanding and the need for supportive services and helpful information grows in tandem. JFS will continuing to assist those caregivers and seniors as we work to enrich the lives of individuals and the community through compassionate and collaborative human services.

The Zoom presentation can be viewed here.

If you are a caregiver and need resources and support, please contact the JFS Senior Resource Network or the JFS clinical team.

JFS NENY is delighted to partner with Jewish Family Service Houston (JFS) Alexander Institute for Inclusion which shines a light on the lives and aspirations of individuals with disabilities in Houston and beyond. They seek to lower stigmas and increase access for individuals with disabilities in the workplace, places of faith and communal organizations through direct service, education, arts and advocacy.  

This February is JFS Houston’s 10th annual ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival, which brings an array of virtual programs that promotes inclusion and celebrates the lives, stories and talents of people with disabilities, making an impact that lasts far beyond the Festival. The timing of this festival is beshert – coinciding with Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month.  

JFS Houston is graciously giving JFS NENY full access to the virtual portions of ReelAbilities Film Festival, including the opening event on February 15th with a special JFS access code (a $10 value)! 

Beyond the initial two programs, the 12 streaming films from February 16 to 24 provide an intimate and educational view into various disabilities including hearing loss, ALS, cerebral palsy, mental health conditions and more. These feature-length, narrative, and documentary films can be an excellent tool for the workplace or classroom to enhance awareness of people with disabilities. 

Below is the full roster of virtual events and here is a link to the event brochure.

UP Abilities—An Extraordinary Evening with Extraordinary Speakers

February 15, 7:00-9:00 PM CST
Featured speakers for the evening include: 

  • Josh Blue, a comedian with Cerebral palsy who finished third in the last season of America’s Got Talent;  
  • Christine Ha, the first-ever blind contestant and season 3 winner of the competitive amateur cooking television show “MasterChef”; and  
  • Mike Veny, a mental health expert focused on building emotional wellness. 

Use the promo code JFSNENY to attend this event for free. (Tickets are normally $10.) 

Click here for registration. 


February 17, 12:00-1:00 PM CST
Meg O’Connell, CEO & Founder, Global Disability Inclusion, and Peter Rutigliano, Managing Director – Data Analytics, Mercer-Sirota will present their first analysis of new data from a multi-year study of more than 3 million employees and explore the intersection of gender, race, age and disability. This is an opportunity to enhance DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) efforts by learning how to engage—and attract—employees with disabilities. The event is free to attend. 

Registration and additional speaker information is here   


February 20, 21, 22 and 24 from 7:00-8:00 PM CST 

Each evening, there will be a virtual, hosted discussion around a variety of films depicting various disabilities, ranging from ALS to hearing loss to mental health conditions.  

Here is a link to watch a film and register for the discussion.

On Demand ReelFilm

February 16-24  

During this time, participants can have on demand access to a catalog of free, streaming feature-length, narrative, and documentary films covering a variety of disabilities such as traumatic brain injury, hearing loss, dating with a disability, Alzheimer’s, blindness, and so much more. All films are captioned and audio-described.  

Here is the link to the full catalog of films.