Facebook  Instagram

At this year’s Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies annual conference held in early May, staff and board members of diverse faiths, identities, and lived experiences from Jewish Family Service organizations across North America gathered to learn and share successes and struggles.


In our host city of Pittsburgh, leaders shared their experiences in the wake of the most violent and deadly attack on a Jewish community in the United States in memory. Hate hit so close to home. The Tree of Life synagogue shooting took place during HIAS Refugee Shabbat in 2018.


We heard from the first responders who then led the community healing process. Their stories pierced my heart and gave me hope. Leaders retold how the community gathering the evening of the day the shooting took place. Local clergy were invited to step up to the front of the event. Over 150 clergy members from all different faiths stood with the Jewish community that day and continued to work together to bring healing and rebuild hope in their community, so close to home.


Read more here.

Robin Mencher, Chief Executive Officer

Staff Profile: Karen Lottman

Karen Lottman is a licensed clinical social worker, (LCSW) and the cornerstone of our community, having dedicated over 18 years to the JFCS East Bay team. Her journey began as a psychotherapist, where her background in psychotherapy and mental health services immediately shone through. Over the years, Karen's compassion and expertise have touched countless lives, particularly among seniors and individuals with disabilities, offering vital support during their most challenging times.

Read more here.

Board Member Spotlight: Janis Burger

As Chair of the Program Committee at JFCS East Bay, I've been privileged to witness our organization's dedicated efforts to integrate mental health services into all aspects of our programs. Our journey towards empowering mental wellness has been both inspiring and transformative. Drawing from my experience as the former CEO of Alameda First Five, I understand the significance of addressing mental health from early childhood through adolescence. At JFCS East Bay, our commitment to empowering mental wellness has been a focal point of our endeavors.

A significant milestone in this journey was the establishment of the Senior Director of Clinical Services position. This strategic decision played a pivotal role in centralizing and expanding our mental health initiatives, enabling us to better serve our diverse community.

Read more here.

Volunteer of the Month: Linda Scotting

This month, we proudly highlight Linda Scotting as our Volunteer of the Month at Jewish Family and Community Services. Linda's dedication to ESL tutoring, particularly with Afghan and Ukrainian individuals, has been invaluable. Additionally, she has assisted with occasional tasks such as moving boxes from the office to the storage facility. Linda's commitment to supporting our refugee clients through her kindness and expertise embodies the spirit of compassion and service that defines our organization. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Linda for her outstanding contributions and for being a shining example of generosity and community spirit.

Resilience Beyond Borders: A Journey of an Afghan Refugee Woman in the East Bay

An Afghan refugee woman was challenged to adapt to a new life in the East Bay by a husband who was accustomed to calling the shots. AS a result, she initially struggled to engage socially. Despite our support, her husband's interference hindered her progress. After persistent negotiation, she enrolled in ESL classes and support groups, but challenges persisted due to her husband’s nature. Eight months later, her husband made a trip back to Afghanistan, leaving her stranded without legal documents. Despite our efforts to provide support, she vanished, reappearing later after being served with divorce papers. Alone and betrayed, she began the daunting task of rebuilding her life.


With the help of a former JFCS East Bay client turned friend, she found temporary shelter. We provided assistance with program enrollment and gift cards donated by the community. Despite facing trauma and emotional challenges, she worked tirelessly at a restaurant, gradually advancing to better job opportunities.


Over time, she secured stable housing, obtained her driver's license, and purchased a car. Committed to improving her English, she regularly attended ESL classes, aspiring to reignite her engineering career from her home country.


Now settled in a lovely home, she aims to inspire other Afghan women facing similar struggles, showcasing the power of resilience and determination. Her journey embodies the transformative power of support and perseverance, highlighting the meaningful role that JFCS East Bay plays in clients' growth and empowerment.

Empowering Education Through Partnership: Alfreda's Story

Alfreda Covington, with 24 years in Oakland Unified School District, knows the hurdles students face. Trauma, mental health issues—she's seen it all. But with Samira Sheahan from JFCS East Bay, things changed. Samira Sheahan's weekly support not only aided Alfreda and her students but also extended a lifeline to parents. Alfreda's advocacy for this partnership reflects its vital role in fostering resilience. She urges decision-makers to prioritize such programs, recognizing their immense impact on student well-being and academic success. Alfreda's story is a testament to the transformative power of collaboration in education and mental health support. Click here to watch her story.

So Close to Home: Immigration Deportation Defense

This week, during our May “So Close to Home”, campaign we are fighting for immigrants who fled their homelands to make a new HOME in the East Bay, but now face deportation without representation.


In February 2024, a new Federal Immigration Court opened in Concord, speeding up immigration deportation cases and dramatically increasing the number of immigrants in our community seeking our legal representation. The new court is just blocks from our office. We need to increase our capacity NOW to serve the new surge of immigrants facing deportation without legal representation. Can you help us make this possible? This May a collective group of donors has generously pledged to match every unrestricted donation made, up to $36,000, so that we can provide legal consultations for deportation defense.

Donate Now

Advocate: Call on our leaders to Restore Funding for Critical Asylum Programs

Every day in our work, we see how our asylum system is in crisis. Years of neglect and funding cuts have left thousands stranded and vulnerable, undermining our nation's moral standing and security. Draconian policies have weakened asylum protections, leaving vulnerable individuals at risk of exploitation and violence. Without proper support, asylum seekers face dire consequences, and America's moral integrity suffers. Join us to demand action from our elected officials to restore funding, reverse harmful policies, and uphold the integrity of the asylum process. Now is the time to raise our voices and demand change. Together, we can ensure that the United States remains a place of hope for those fleeing persecution in their own countries. Click here for more information.

World Refugee and Immigrant Day

Join us as we partner with the East Bay Refugee and Immigrant Forum for the World Refugee and Immigrant Day Festival! The event will take place on June 15th from 12 PM to 3 PM at Clinton Park in Oakland (International Blvd & 6th Street). Come and celebrate the rich cultures of refugees and immigrants in our community. This is a free event, and everyone is welcome! Find out more information here.

Check out our FY 2022-2023 Annual Report

We are excited to share with you the highlights and achievements of the past year in our Annual Report, now on our website. As we reflect on the challenges and triumphs of our FY23, we are filled with gratitude for the unwavering support and dedication of our community. Here’s a glimpse into the impactful work we’ve accomplished together.

Click here to check it out!

You are Invited! Build community at one of these amazing upcoming events. 

5/24 Family Fun Night

Join Line 51 Brewing Company every Friday for a fun-filled, kid-friendly activity! This week's theme is Legos & Duplos. Families are encouraged to wear costumes and bring action figures to add to the excitement. Register here to save your space and ensure you don't miss out on the creative adventure!

5/25 Bay Area KidFest 2024

Join the Bay Area KidFest in Downtown Concord for a Memorial Day Weekend filled with family fun! Held at Mt. Diablo High School, this outdoor event features three days of free non-stop entertainment, meet and greets, and Kid's Town America.

5/28 Let My People Go…and Stay!

Join us, in partnership with New Lehrhaus, for a three-session course on the history and experiences of Soviet Jews. We'll explore their struggles under antisemitic laws, their fight to preserve their culture, and the Free Soviet Jewry movement. Learn about the mass emigration to Israel and the current challenges faced by Jews in Russia today.

6/4 Yoga Classes

Unwind in Berkeley with FREE Yoga Classes by the City of Berkeley + Niroga Institute this June! Join us to destress and find inner peace.

6/6 Move Ya Body

Get ready to groove and sweat with Move Ya Body! Free Dance Fitness Series. Join the rhythm revolution and unleash your inner dancer with high-energy routines and electrifying beats.

6/10 Girl Scouts Popsicles in the Park

Indulge in Girl Scouts Popsicles in the Park at Civic Park, Walnut Creek, CA, on June 10th, 6:30-7:30 PM. Explore the world of Girl Scouts and kickstart your adventure!

6/14 Line Dancing Classes

Get ready to groove with Valida Holmes in our Free Soul Line Dancing Classes! Join us for the latest moves and infectious rhythms. Let's dance!

6/22 Sazon Latin Food Festival

Embark on a flavor-filled journey at the Sazon Latin Food Festival in Alameda! For two days of fun, enjoy live salsa music, diverse Latin cuisines, and family-friendly vibes. Free admission and a lively atmosphere make it the perfect weekend outing for all. Come hungry, leave happy!


We want our newsletters to be relevant to you.

Please let us know what you'd like to hear more about in the next issue.

Facebook  Instagram