June 17, 2024
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June 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Supporting Israel’s Children With ‘Just One Life’

It is no surprise that the anxiety and insecurity engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on the fragile clientele of Just One Life (JOL, USA)/Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael (NAB, Israel). Anticipating the birth of a new child should be a time of happiness and joyful expectation for a young family. However, for segments of the Israeli population for whom financial hardship and social and medical issues impact their daily realities, a pregnancy may further exacerbate these challenges.

According to Teaneck’s Jack Forgash, founder and chairman of Just One Life, “The annual JOL/NAB caseload during COVID jumped from 500 to 650, an increase of 20%. Despite this increase, the devoted team of social workers, led by Director and Head of Social Work Chaya Katzin, capably serviced each client, even remotely when the restrictions of the pandemic dictated distancing. Of her team of five social workers, four, including Katzin, are American-born and were professionally trained at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler Graduate School of Social Work. Former Director of Social Work, Madelaine Gitelman, who served in that capacity for 27 years and now serves as chairperson of NAB (Israel), is also a graduate of Wurzweiler’s social work program. We are proud that we are able to bring the best practitioners and most dedicated individuals to our program. And we laud them for their extraordinary care of our clients during this past exceptionally difficult period.”

On Thursday, August 19, Teaneck/Bergenfield and surrounding communities will have an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing vital work of JOL and Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael. A mere few weeks before the Yomim Noraim, the community will have the zechut to assist in the tefillah of “kama yiborei’un,” how many will be born, for families that need emotional and financial support as they look ahead to the birth of a new child.

The evening was organized by Dr. Rayzel and Rabbi Ron Yaish, Rachel and Azi Mandel, Fraidy and Stuart Forgash, and Carole and Jack Forgash as well as Yaffa and Rabbi Martin Katz, executive vice president of JLO. It will take place at the Bergenfield home of Rachel and Azi Mandel. Together with co-hosts Sheryl and Aaron Liberman, the Mandels have hosted the annual JOL evenings for several years, even virtually from their home last year in light of the pandemic.

This year’s annual evening of support for JOL/Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael will once again feature noted impactful speaker Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson. One of America’s premier Jewish scholars in Torah and Jewish mysticism, Rabbi Jacobson is one of the most sought-after speakers in the Jewish world today. He has lectured to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences on six continents and in 40 states, and serves as a teacher and mentor to thousands across the globe. Rabbi Jacobson founded and serves as the dean of TheYeshiva.net, teaching, via the web, one of the largest Torah classes in the world today. He also currently serves as the spiritual leader of Congregation Bais Shmuel in Monsey. Rabbi Jacobson will present in person in the Mandel home. A tent will also be provided outdoors for those who prefer outdoor seating.

Of its 31 years working on behalf of mothers and their families, facilitating the healthy births of over 19,000 babies, JOL was presented with the most challenges during this past year. Many heads of households expecting a new child were laid off from work, further limiting their ability to cover monthly expenses. Lockdowns and children restricted to their homes added a further degree of tension to the new mother before or after birth and resulted in many unexpected complications. Many situations arose when the newborn babies were separated from their mothers immediately after birth as a result of the mother’s exposure to the virus. These separations left the fragile mothers depressed and often even traumatized. Furthermore, many of these mothers forced to quarantine after birth were left without needed supplies such as formula, clothing, diapers and pacifiers and reached out to JOL/NAB in desperation.
Further ramifications of forced quarantines were that the new mothers were left without their usual postpartum support systems and instead were isolated and alone. Many severe cases of postpartum depression were reported to the organization as a result. Fortunately, as their reputation for excellence is widespread, referrals from doctors, social workers, nurses and welfare offices multiplied this past year and were capably handled by the team at JOL/NAB.

Rabbi Martin Katz, executive vice president of JOL since its inception, expressed, “We are so thankful for the help that we have been able to provide to these expectant mothers and their families at their greatest time of need. At a time when the whole world is struggling, it has been our privilege to join with our supporters in offering a small beacon of light and hope to every expectant mother and family referred to us. However, we must keep in mind the tremendous work that still remains to be done while COVID is still a menacing sword above our heads. Especially as the Yomim Tovim approach, we would like to provide our clients with the finances and services which will make them truly yomim tovim. A generous contribution of $1,800 sponsors the birth of a baby.”

The Just One Life/Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael Benefit Evening will take place on Thursday evening, August 19, at 8 p.m., at the home of Rachel and Azi Mandel in Bergenfield. For further information, please call 347-996-7751 or visit www.justonelife.org. Donations can also be sent to Just One Life, 587 Fifth Avenue, #702, New York, NY.

By Pearl Markovitz

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