WJCS Programs and Services Since October 7

By Gillian Rittmaster, Assistant Executive Director at WJCS Jewish Programs

The October 7 massacre committed by Hamas terrorists in Israel has stung all those in our Jewish community. The shock, the sadness, and the fear have affected all of us, whether we have relatives in Israel, are part of the American Israeli community, are members of the Jewish community, are allies of Israel, or are just plainly appalled at the barbaric savagery and kidnapping that took place.

Since October 7, the Jewish Programs division at Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) has been actively supporting youth, adults, and the elderly during this frightening and devastating period in a myriad of ways. The need is great and, as we have done since our founding in 1943, we are here to help in as many ways as we can.

WJCS partners with over 25 synagogues, Jewish nursery and day schools, JCCs, and assisted living facilities. Our focus has been on addressing mental health and building resilience, which includes offering education about trauma and coping skills. We have provided on-site support to day school teachers and staff, many of whom are Israeli and/or have family in Israel as well as the IDF. We’ve spoken with parents who are concerned about how to talk to their children about the conflict and the rise of antisemitism. WJCS is on call to our Westchester clergy partners to assist with the needs of their congregants. And we have increased support for our most vulnerable population – our Holocaust Survivors. We added daily phone calls, special meal deliveries, and volunteer visits to our services in order to reduce the Survivors’ sense of isolation.

Our WJCS social workers have provided individual and group counseling to individuals as well as workshops to organizations, such as The Forward and Haddasah. Throughout these trying months we have continued our regular programming of Caregiver and Bereavement Services with the addition this year of two new groups at the JCC of Mid-Westchester. Our support of Alzheimer’s family caregivers continues, with multiple caregiver groups and individual counseling. Membership in our Shelanu and Supper club programs has doubled since last year and continue to have creative, educational, and fun programming for young adults on the autism spectrum. These events now include the participants of our group homes and POINT program. 

At WJCS, we work as a team to support our clients, providing a vast array of services and programs to Westchester residents of all different ages. If you (or someone you love) are having trouble coping during this challenging time, go to wjcs.com and review the various ways our agency can help. During such trying times, it’s important for each of us to realize that we are not alone. 

Learn more about WJCS Jewish Programs at www.wjcs.com.