When I became medically disabled in 2006, I had to leave a rewarding career in conference management. My savings were depleted, and I had to declare bankruptcy. I didn't know where to turn. In Jewish Family & Children's Service, I found compassionate people who wanted and knew how to help. They made calls and referred me to other helpful organizations as well, like Yad Chessed and Jewish Family Services. Their resourcefulness helped me find long-term solutions by helping me get through short-term problems, like a car that needed repairs. That's the kind of thing that can derail you. When I received an ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2011, they found even more ways to help. I had the emotional support of a community.
Sadly, Lisa Kirschner passed away prior to the launch of this initiative. While in hospice, Lisa expressed a sincere desire for her story to be included because she believed deeply in the importance of providing help to those in need.
For most of my adult life, I've been a volunteer with Jewish organizations. But in 2010, the same places I was used to helping were helping me. When I needed to move unexpectedly, they were there, getting me into safe housing in a good community. Even though I didn't want to have to ask for help finding an apartment or some extra groceries, I knew from my experience that I could rely on Jewish Family Services in my time of need. With their help, I learned to budget and got back on my feet. Now, I'm back to giving back the way I used to. But if I'm ever in need, I know where I can turn.
As a single parent, it was important to find a positive male role model for my son. But Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters (JBBBS) helped us in many more ways than that. They connected us with resources like Jewish Family Services of Metrowest (JFSMW), which helped us get a fuel-efficient car we otherwise couldn't afford so I can get my son the support he needs, at school and beyond. He's doing well, and he keeps me going. I've always had jobs and even was co-owner of a business, so I'm used to being independent — it's hard for me to ask for help. But between JBBBS, Yad Chessed, and JFSMW, we've been respected and lifted up in many ways, and we're so grateful for that.
My husband and I are educated and employed, which means a lot of people didn't realize we could have been struggling. As he was finishing college and we had our first child, we were right on the cusp of poverty. When you're living paycheck to paycheck, it's so hard to get out of that situation. With the compassion of our community and various kinds of help from Jewish Family & Children's Service, we were able to move forward. We received cash assistance that was so crucial. And the support from our friends, Chabad and Family Table, meant we could keep our strong faith and kosher lifestyle intact, which was so important to us.
The CJP Warmline has long been a resource for those in need. During these unprecedented and challenging days, CJP will be working to provide additional support to our community and we encourage anyone experiencing financial hardship to contact the Warmline.
Programs and resources include:
We have launched the CJP Coronavirus Emergency Fund in order to extend greater support to numerous Jewish social service agencies providing critical services during this time. 100% of the money raised will help community members who are facing hardship as a result of this pandemic.
Together, we can make it through this difficult time.
Your Jewish community is here to support you. If you live in Greater Boston and are experiencing a financial crisis, we have experienced and caring professionals who can help. We'll stay by your side, supporting your journey to stability.
To get started, simply call the CJP Warmline at 1-800-CJP-9500 or tell us a little bit about yourself in the form on this page.
Together, we can address immediate needs, like getting dinner on the table and keeping the heat on this winter, as well as provide services that lead to greater stability, such as mentorship and job search support.
CJP and our partner organizations are here for you every step of the way.
Support from Jewish organizations checking in and being there has meant everything to us. They have made the difference.— Bonnie Bryson
Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters (jbbbs.org) connects children in need to adult mentors and introduces adults with disabilities to new friends. Programs for children serve those from a wide range of life circumstances, and there is no financial eligibility requirement. More information is available on the agency's website.
Jewish Family and Children's Service (jfcsboston.org) provides case management and coordination, financial assistance, assistance with funerals, scholarships, and interest-free loans for eligible families and individuals. Offers emergency and monthly food through Family Table and extends legal assistance to secure public benefits and other legal resources through the Bet Tzedek program.
Jewish Family Services of Metrowest (jfsmw.org) provides case management, financial assistance for utilities, heating, medical needs, transportation, and food from Lucy & Joe's food pantry, as well as referrals and resources for vocational training, elder care, and public benefits.
Jewish Vocational Service (jvs-boston.org) provides assistance with job searches, career counseling, workshops, and training.
Yad Chessed (yadchessed.org) provides immediate financial assistance as well as gift cards for food and clothing.
CJP harnesses the Jewish community's combined resources to effectively help you during tough times and help you get back on your feet.
Too many people in our own community are facing significant financial stress. The CJP Warmline provides easy access to community-wide support with one phone call or email inquiry. We will help you navigate available services and provide customized support and guidance each step of the way.
We understand that caring for the vulnerable is one of our primary Jewish values, but we often falsely assume that those in need live outside of our community. Yet research shows that many Boston-area Jewish households are experiencing a financial crisis or are in danger of sliding into financial distress. This includes households in communities that are perceived as affluent, like Newton, Needham, and Wellesley. People with college educations are finding themselves without jobs mid-way through their careers, young adults are entering a depleted job market, and our Jewish community has more aging baby boomers (ages 50 to 68) than the general population. These conditions leave our friends and neighbors increasingly vulnerable to financial insecurity.
Beyond these issues, the false view that everyone in the Jewish community is financially prosperous creates stigma and shame that keeps those in financial distress from stepping forward and asking for assistance. Leaders in our community like rabbis, synagogue leadership, and day school staff are in the unique position to be first responders to those in need. Not only do they have a responsibility to guide and aid those who are financially vulnerable, but they are also often the first to notice signs that a family or individual may be in trouble.