By Sherry Birnbaum, Assistant Executive Director of WJCS Jewish Programs
They say “it takes a village to raise a child” Well, at Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS), one of the largest human service organizations in Westchester County, we aim to be the “village” and provide the support that individuals of all ages need to navigate life challenges.
While WJCS’ 80+ programs address problems experienced by people of all backgrounds, those in our Jewish Programs division are specifically geared for those in the Westchester Jewish community. Through private philanthropic funding and UJA-Federation of New York, the WJCS Center for Jewish Programs supports more than 40 local synagogues, Jewish community centers, day schools, and assisted living centers as well as individuals in the community through a vast number of educational, spiritual, recreational, and mental health initiatives.
The WJCS’ Shelanu program for Jewish young adults, ages 18-35, with autism spectrum disorder builds friendships as members worship together, celebrate holidays together and partake in recreational activities. Chai House, is a kosher community residence for women with developmental and intellectual disabilities who enjoy the weekly interaction of a Jewish Cultural Specialist who celebrates Shabbat and holiday programming. Our Havorah program hosts eight events each year, providing individuals with disabilities who live in community residences, independently, or with their families’ opportunities to celebrate Chanukah and Passover Seders, Purim, and Shabbat together. This meaningful program has been part of WJCS Partners in Caring for more than 20 years, in partnership with synagogues and JCCs throughout the county.
WJCS offers Support and Social Groups for Holocaust Survivors and their Second and Third Generation Relatives to share in conversation as well as educational and informational events and outings. We are also providing trauma-informed care training for the relatives and caregivers of Holocaust Survivors.
At our Seniors Program in Mt. Vernon, we provide s a twice-weekly onsite kosher lunch, along with fitness classes, card playing, discussion groups, and holiday celebrations. A kosher meal delivery program provides meals to homebound older adults in southern Westchester. WJCS also provide funds and provisions for Passover observance for families in need.
Rabbi Pamela Wax, director of WJCS Jewish Spiritual Healing Center, offers workshops that are opportunities to delve deep into difficult life experiences. Programs this fall include:
After the Death of a Child, a review of the Jewish literary history about the death of children and an exploration of the impact the loss of your child has had on your life and strategies for facing the future. (Monday, November 11, 6:30-8 PM, $25)
Thoughts on Thanks, a class that will deepen your experience and practice of gratitude through meditation, text study, chanting, journaling, and other exercises to enhance your Thanksgiving. (Wednesday, November 20, 6:30-8 PM $18)
Faith, Hope and Meaning: A Workshop for Mental Health Professionals, an opportunity to examine the importance of meaning-making, legacy, and hope for your clients who are grieving the loss of a loved one. (Monday, December 9, 6:30-8 PM, $18)
Talking about Suicide, a discussion geared for those with either a personal or professional interest in suicide. Current research, warning signs of suicide, and resources will be shared. (Monday, January 13, 2020, 6:30-8 PM, $25)
What life challenge are you or a loved one facing? To find out more about WJCS programs, go to wjcs.com or contact Sherry Birnbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (914) 761-0600, ext. 2140.