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Just One Life/Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael Plans September Event in Bergenfield

The organization is expanding its lifesaving services in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and the Old City.

Nefesh/JOL staff, with mothers and babies, founders Jack and Carole Forgash.

Just One Life/Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael, (JOL/NAB) is the U.S./Israel organization founded in 1989 with the goal of supporting and empowering women and their families in crisis during pregnancy to carry to term and deliver healthy babies. Founders, Teaneck’s Jack and Carole Forgash; Dr. Simon Glick MD, Ben Gurion University; and Madelaine Gitelman, MSW, have been leading the efforts of the organization to focus on both the financial and psychological needs and to tackle the social, economic and emotional difficulties that a large segment of the Israeli population faces during pregnancy. Rabbi Martin Katz has served as the executive vice president of the U.S. offices of JOL since its inception.

To date, JOL/NAB has facilitated the births of over 20,200 babies over 35 years.The organization is currently supporting approximately 500 women per year. The demand is growing, and with over 1.8 million Jews in Israel living below the poverty line, the need is even greater.

To this end, JOL/NAB is planning its annual fundraising event for Tuesday evening, September 12, 2023 in Bergenfield, where the audience will hear inspiring words from noted speaker Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson.

JOL/NAB promotes its mission through its slogan, “Israel’s main resource is its children.” Among its partnering agencies is Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, which refers 250 cases to the organization annually. According to recent data, Shaare Zedek Hospital, in Jerusalem, lays claim to 22,000 births per year. Contrast this number with the approximately 7,000 yearly births at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. On July 12 and 13, Shaare Zedek Hospital achieved another first with the birth within 24 hours of seven sets of twins. These births represent a new record for the Israeli Medical Center and perhaps set a world record for multiple births within a 24-hour period.

Twins born in July, whose mothers were assisted by Just One Life.

Always looking to provide its unique and comprehensive services to the populations most challenged, JOL/NAB is actively supporting families living in the Old City of Jerusalem. Young families have put themselves on the line by choosing to live in areas of Yerushalayim surrounded by hostile neighbors. These families are courageously expanding, and they benefit greatly from the financial assistance and gifts from JOL/NAB before and after the birth of a new child. Over the past year, the organization has coordinated with Ateret Cohanim in assisting with the births of over 26 babies in the Old City, providing financial and social assistance when indicated.

Likewise, ever-alert to growing young communities, JOL/NAB has determined that the areas of Beit Shemesh and Ramat Beit Shemesh, which are exploding with young families, would greatly benefit from their services. Plans for a local hospital are in the works, but years away. The board at JOL/NAB has decided to establish an office in these areas which will expedite their services to the families of Beit Shemesh and provide quicker and closer access to social workers and more efficient referrals to outside agencies.

Letter from Shaare Zedek thanking Nefesh and JOL Rabbi Katz and me for assisting with their cases.

JOL/NAB functions according to a unique double-pronged formula—early detection and timely intervention. Upon receiving referrals from hospitals, pediatricians, nurses and social services centers, JOL/NAB takes note of potential risk factors such as single motherhood, difficult marriages, mood disorders, unhealthy pregnancies and poverty. They immediately refer the women to appropriate services to begin prior to the impending birth. After the birth, JOL/NAB follows up with services and financial assistance when indicated. Through their Timely Intervention, monthly subsidies are provided to help cover the cost of basic necessities before and after birth. Short term goal-oriented therapy is provided through monthly groups and workshops that focus on parenting skills, psychoeducation, maternal health and mother-infant bonding. When a challenge is presented that exceeds the scope of expertise available, the client is referred to the appropriate agencies that can offer them the help they need.

The JOL/NAB offices are located in sunny, attractive quarters on Rechov King George 16 in the center of Jerusalem. The professional staff is always on hand to greet the clients warmly and put them at ease by showing genuine compassion and understanding.

The current Israeli professional staff of JOL/NAB consists of the following dedicated individuals: Chaya Katzin serves as CEO and director of social workers. She earned a Master of Social Work degree from Wurzweiler School of Social Work, and is a certified social work supervisor for Bar Ilan University. She has a specialty in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) from Hadassah University’s Hospital Center for Treatment of Traumatic Stress and Anxiety Disorders. Shira Kayak holds a B.A. in social work from Bar Ilan University and a Master of Clinical Social Work degree from Hebrew University. She is a member of the Shluchey Tzibur Mandel Leadership Program at Hebrew University. Sara Gordon, drama therapist, holds a B.A. in psychology from Concordia University and a master’s in drama therapy from New York University. Elianna Rubeinstein holds a B.A. in social work from Bar Ilan University, with a specialty in trauma. She is a certified cognitive behavioral therapist from Hadassah University’s Center for Treatment of Traumatic Stress and Anxiety Disorders. Atara Block earned a B.A. in psychology from Touro College and a Master in Social Work degree from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work of Yeshiva University. Rachel Morris-Azrad holds a Master in Social Work degree from Hebrew University, focusing on trauma.

Rabbi Martin Katz holding a Just One Life baby.

Over the past 35 years, JOL/NAB has become a highly regarded nonprofit organization both in the U.S. and Israel as it allots its donations directly to its targeted goals with great success. Impressed by this achievement, Dr. Charles Bacall of Teaneck and Israel has recently joined the organization as a board member. Dr. Bacall has been affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York since 1975 where he served as chief resident and assistant clinical professor in addition to heading a private OB/GYN practice for over 40 years. “Attending my first board meeting after Sukkot of 2022 at the invitation of my friend and neighbor Jack Forgash, I was immediately impressed by the climate of professionalism and genuine enthusiasm of the staff,” Dr. Bacall said. “Their goal of facilitating the birth of healthy Jewish babies in the face of serious challenges spoke to me on the personal and professional level, as I had dedicated my practice of medicine to the same mission: the salvation of lives. I realized that I could fill a niche in the organization by providing input from a medical perspective.

“I was also impressed by the joint efforts of Ateret Cohanim and JOL/NAB in serving the courageous young families of the Old City. In hearing of the plans to open a JOL/NAB headquarters in the Beit Shemesh area in advance of the proposed hospital facility, I was duly impressed by the forethought and creativity of the board and the willingness of the professional staff to expand their services. As a resident of Baka for a significant portion of the year, I feel that I can contribute my time and effort meaningfully to an organization which I truly regard as a ‘well-run ship’ with a lofty mission.”

Please support JOL/NAB at its September 12 event, with featured speaker Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson, at the home of Rachel and Azi Mandel, 60 Westminster Avenue, Bergenfield. For reservations, go to www.justonelife.org

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