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)
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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

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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 us with any questions!
518-482-8856 or email

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.

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.