News From our Israel Team With the support of our generous donors, Just One Life/ Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael has always been at the forefront of supporting pregnant women in Israel during their time of need. But this year, that definition grew to include more women and more needs than we ever could have anticipated… Being laid off from work while expecting a new baby can be extremely anxiety-provoking, especially for someone who already was not covering their monthly expenses. Lockdowns and kids off from school mean expectant mothers on bedrest or postpartum women recovering from labor are not being granted the precious hours of respite that school usually provides. We’ve seen an increase in pre-term labor and birth-related complications as mothers find it impossible to care for themselves properly when their other children are home and requiring care. Many pregnant women were forced to labor alone or were separated from their infant moments after birth when a spouse or child of the woman tested positive. Many new mothers did not receive adequate postpartum care as they were placed in COVID wards. Left alone, weak, and tired after labor, many mothers did not have the energy to advocate for themselves or their newborn child. These traumatic separations and conditions left many mothers with lingering trauma and attachment challenges. Many clients were left without basic supplies for their babies when forced to quarantine after giving birth. We received countless calls asking if we can provide basic supplies such as formula, baby clothing, diapers, and pacifiers. Women who typically have strong support systems and social interactions were left isolated and alone due to quarantines and lockdowns. We have seen an increase in peripartum and postpartum depression (PPD) as isolation and lack of familial support is a direct risk factor for PPD. 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 greatest honor and privilege to join with our supporters in offering a small beacon of light and hope to each and every expectant mother and family who is referred to us. However, with all the success we have seen, we cannot help but think ahead to all the work that still needs to be done. We would love to be able to offer more support for women whose pregnancies and births have been affected by COVID-19. We would love to send them care packages that can help these mothers better care for themselves and their babies. With the upcoming holidays, we would like to be able to provide more financial and support to help our families make it through We thank you for your loyal support and hope that we can count on your continued partnership.
When Miriam learned she was pregnant with her third child, she was ambivalent about her preg- nancy. She and her two young children were feeling unwell and she had recently been laid off from her part-time job, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Without his wife’s paycheck to supplement the family income, Miriam’s husband was afraid they wouldn’t be able to both feed the family and pay their rent. Then Miriam tested positive for COVID-19. Due to her high-risk pregnancy, she was rushed into isolation in the corona ward at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. Miriam felt helpless, as though her entire life was crumbling around her, and she was left to deal with it all on her own, without even the sup- port of her close family. When a Shaare Zedek social worker suggested she contact Nefesh Achat B’Yis- rael, Miriam jumped at the chance. For many women suffering from financial and emotional distress, or experiencing medical complica- tions or high-risk pregnancies, the preg- nancy is often too much to cope with. That’s where Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael steps in. Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael (with the financial backing of Just One Life, USA) was formed in 1988 by concerned individu- als who recognized the need to provide support for expect- ant mothers in Israel, where financial hardship and social and medical issues can lead to difficult pregnancies. The founders of the organization were Rabbi Solomon J. Sharfman a”h, Dr. Shimon Glick, who was then the Dean of Ben-Gurion University Soroka Hospital, Jack Forgash, a businessman from the USA and a friend of Dr. Glick and Rabbi Sharfman, and Madelaine Gitelman from Jerusalem, who became the organization’s Director and Head of Social Workers in 1989. The organization’s name was derived from the Talmudic passage in Sanhedrin that states, “One who saves a single Jewish life has saved an entire world.” The key to the organization’s success is that “we provide stability to families who are experiencing turbulence in their lives,” said Rabbi Martin Katz, who has served as the USA Executive Vice President of Just One Life since its founding. “By providing pro- fessional counseling, emotional support and financial assis- tance, Just One Life empowers mothers to bring their preg- nancy to full term, thus preserving Israel’s most precious resource – its children.” Veteran social worker Chaya Katzin, the current Israel Director and Head of Social Workers, and her team of social workers and therapists, help expectant women speak about their challenges at the welcoming Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael/Just One Life office on Jerusalem’s King George Street. “Helping women process their choices and empowering them to understand their strengths is the goal of our inter- vention. We try to bring down the crisis level and arm women with the skills they need to more easily manage their lives,” says Katzin. “Through various workshops and meth- ods of individual and group therapy, we help women develop an empowered approach to parenting and provide their chil- dren with a healthy and supportive environment.” For example, Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael’s team of social workers provided Miriam with emotional and financial support, and empowered her to cope with her difficult pregnancy and give birth to a healthy son. The brit was in their home, the baby is starting off his new life with a layette provided by Just One Life, and Miriam is in a much stronger mental and physical position to be a happy healthy mother to her children. The social workers and therapists at Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael aid approximately 500 families every year, which has resulted in over 18,500 babies over the last three decades. The cou- ples come from all over Israel and from a broad range of backgrounds: religious and secular, Ashkenazi and Sephardi and new immigrants as well as longtime Israelis. But what the women share in common are limited incomes, stressful family situations or health issues. A pregnancy only adds to their long roster of challenges. Jack Forgash, the Chairman and Co-Founder of JOL and Nefesh Achat for 31 years, said, “I would be remiss if I did not give praise, recognition and todah to the manner in which the professional social workers for 31 years have given care and compassion to the mothers and the 18,500 plus children born in Israel. To Madelaine Gitelman, who served as Director for 27 years, current Director, Chaya Katzin, and the professional staff – Shira Keyak, Sara Gordon, Atara Block and Eliana Rubinstein. Just One Life in the USA provides the resources and the Nefesh Achat organization in Israel provides the loving care.” Women often find their way to the Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael office through referrals from doctors, social workers, nurses and welfare offices. Even now during this pandemic, over- whelmed hospital nurses and social workers are calling upon Nefesh Achat to take on additional cases. The organization also receives referrals from major hospitals across Israel. For example, Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael maintains a strong relationship with Shaare Zedek in Jerusalem. Shaare Zedek’s high-risk pregnancy clinic, led by Dr. Ori Shen and Mrs. Yehudit Ackerman, refers patients who require addi- tional emotional or financial support to Nefesh Achat B’Yis- rael. Dr. Shen has praised the organization’s important work: “There is no doubt Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael’s assistance has created circumstances optimal for helping the couples and has brought about beneficial outcomes.” The vast majority of the women that turn to Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael have very limited income. Currently, 1.7 million people in Israel are living below the poverty level. Just One Life provides nearly $1,800 to each mother for financial and psychological services. Just One Life has earned praise from many leading politi- cians and medical professionals, including Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, who recently rec- ognized the organization’s three decades of success in bring- ing Jewish life into the world: “Your work for Jewish families is fundamental to the future and well-being of the Jewish people. Bringing Just One Life to Israel was an important development, and brought the issue of raising Jewish chil- dren straight to the heart of the Jewish world.” The children who have been born with the support of Just One Life are now taking their rightful places in society. Many have grown up to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, attend Torah institutions and universities and have families of their own. “In the 31 years since the organization has been helping women have their babies, nobody has ever come back to complain,” recounts Katz. “But many have returned to give thanks. They say, ‘I can’t imagine what my life would be like without my children.’”
Rav Dovid Feinstein, was the rosh yeshiva of Mesivta Tiferes Jerusalem on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He was a renowned Torah scholar and halachic authority for Jews around the world. He passed away last week at the age of 91. What follows is personal reflections from one of his many talmidim. I was a student in MTJ in 1960. After high school my father sent me there to learn because of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. There, I learned Talmud, but I also learned how to deal with people. I met Rav Moshe at my interview and was put into Rav Dovid’s shiur, who was first starting to teach classes in the beis midrash. I was in his shiur for two years. There were 20 of us, and our interactions were that of a rebbe and talmid, but also like a friendship, with all the chavrutot and learning together. When I went to college I continued at MTJ in between classes. Sometimes I would drive Rav Moshe home for lunch because I was the only one with a car. I formed Just One Life in 1988, an organization that supports pregnant women in Israel who are in crisis, such as single mothers, women getting divorced while pregnant or who got pregnant while in the army. There are many halachic questions that come up when dealing with these is sues, and I would call Rav Dovid when I had a question. He became the rabbinical authority for Just One Life, along with Rav Pam. I would bring photos of the babies and their mothers to show Rav Dovid when I would visit the yeshiva and he would smile and ask questions about the mother’s situation. He would ask me to show the photos to Rebbetzin Malka and would tell me later that she enjoyed seeing them. Ten years ago, Rav Dovid asked me to join the MTJ board. I asked him, “Rebbe, it’s 50 years later! Why are you asking me now?” He answered me, “You’re family and family should stick together.” So I joined, and sometimes at board meetings, when I would contribute an idea, he would say, “I like that.” Rav Dovid Feinstein, zt”l The main lesson I learned from Rav Moshe and Rav Dovid was chesed. The way they would greet everyone at the yeshiva—there was an open door. People came from all walks of life, every type of Jew—and even non-Jews! Rabbis from the OU, Agudah, Young Israel, Torah uMesorah, all came to the yeshiva to ask questions to Rav Moshe and lat er to Rav Dovid. He was always humble, inviting and interested in other people. A lot of poor Jews would come to collect tzedakah from the students in the beis mid rash, and one day when Rav Moshe was giving shiur a lady came in collecting and was chased out by a bachur. Rav Moshe stopped the shiur, ex cused himself and went out to give the woman tzedakah from his own pocket. Then he went over to the bachur and gave him tzedakah to give her as well. We used to go across the street to Sam’s Deli for lunch, and Rav Dovid would come in, sit and eat with us. He was my posek, my rebbe and my friend. I looked up to him tremendously. The Feinstein family, Rav Moshe and Rav Dovid, emu lated the avos in the way they built up Jewish values and the Jewish way of life to where it was before the Holocaust. Like Avra ham, their chesed was unbelieva ble. Like Yitzchak, they had gevurah. Rav Dovid had the strength to carry on his father’s mis sion and togeth er they carried the world Jewish com munity on their backs. They wer en’t just roshei ye shiva, but roshei klal Yisrael. And like Yaakov, their To rah was known throughout the world and it uplifted the Jewish poeple after the Hol ocaust and continues to this day. [Artscroll, the household name that disseminates To rah throughout the world, was born in MTJ, with Rav Dovid encouraging his great friend, Artscroll founder Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, and giving his haskama on many sefarim.] Rabbi Feinstein, center, with Jack Forgash, left, and his son Elliot Forgash, at Elliot's wedding. After watching the funeral on Zoom on Sunday, I went to the airport to say goodbye to Rav Dovid: my rebbe, my adviser, my friend. Rabbi Feinstein and Jack Forgash shaking hands. Rabbi Feinstein, center, with Jack Forgash, left, and his son Elliot Forgash, at Elliot's wedding.
Center Left Shira (Therapist) Chaya (Director/Therapist) with 2 Clients
Rabbi Marty Katz has been saving lives in Israel for 30 years – as a part of his work with Israel-based non-profit Just One Life (JOL), he has saved 17,500 babies, including several sets of twins and triplets and even a set of quadruplets who are now 20 years old. It is this work of saving lives through counseling ambivalent, expectant mothers deciding whether to terminate their pregnancy that Katz has become an ally and personal friend to some of the biggest names in the American Evangelical world, such as Pastor John and Diana Hagee, who he says are “amazing people” with great influence over Washington. Not only do they exchange Shabbat (Jewish sabbath) greetings every week, but Pastor Hagee, founder and national chairman for the largest pro-Israel grassroots organization in the United States, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), has ‘put his money where his mouth is,’ supporting JOL with hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past several years and setting an example for other Evangelical churches who have followed in their wake. This year, Katz accepted a gift of $100,000 from John Hagee Ministries at his 37th Annual “A Night To Honor Israel” event at the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, with Hagee’s Rabbi and Katz’s good friend Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg. At the forefront of saving Jewish lives in Israel, JOL has gained respect, receiving its financial assistance from dedicated supporters around the world, and in particular, Evangelical Christians who are invested in creating a flourishing Jewish state and supporting the children of Israel. Receiving funds from Pastor George and Cheryl Morrison of the Faith Bible Church in Denver, Pastor Sharon Dougherty from Oklahoma, Pastor Ron Lewis from North Carolina, the Grace Covenant Church of Virginia, the Solace Church in Oklahoma and Pastor Reymundo Meneses of the Life Church of Memphis, their support allows the organization to provide their clients with the security to make critical future-focused decisions for themselves and their families. Doing so relieves burdens before and after the baby arrives, and with this clarity and confidence provided to the client, JOL has saved thousands of lives of women and families in crisis – what a cause! Saving ‘Just One Life’ For the Jewish people, the desire to save lives stems from a central text of rabbinic Judaism. The Talmud states, “Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” JOL and its team of professional social workers who empower women who find themselves in a crisis situation during pregnancy have thus saved thousands of worlds, acting as cause-leaders. “We are willing to do nearly anything to save just one life,” Katz told Breaking Israel News. “We can help pay a woman’s bills and rent, offer parenting workshops, support and even train spouses who need another job to pay for a baby.” Doing so creates dignity for a family and is not a simple band-aid over a financial issue, but a longer-term investment into the future of the family. “In the absence of the support of others, we are here to reach out with an emotional and loving hand,” said Katz. By assisting mothers with challenges ranging from mental health issues, medical problems with the pregnancy, abuse, poverty and more, nearly all the women JOL sees – women who were considering abortion – to keep their babies. Such values and programs have garnered the organization great financial support from both Orthodox Jewish and often right-wing, pro-Israel Christian donors, including Evangelical Christians whose ‘pro-life’ agenda aligns with the Jewish value of saving lives. “The Evangelicals say we are doing holy work. They love us, they love the holy land and they love Israel,” maintained Katz. “We are tied to the Evangelical Christians.” A Pro-Chance Stance According to cause-leader and JOL director Bini Maryles, however, Just One Life does not want to be labeled as ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ – “We are what we call ‘pro-chance,’” he told Breaking Israel News – “giving every future mother the chance to make great, empowering, knowledgeable, future focused decisions about herself, her children and her family.” Despite some theological differences regarding the definition of life between Orthodox Jews and Evangelical Christians, Donna Jollay, co-founder of educational platform Yeshiva for the Nations, which aims to revolutionize Christian thinking about the Torah, maintains that Jews and Christians both value life, treating it with honor and dignity – and this is just one of the shared values that have led to the natural alliance between Christians and Jews in supporting Just one Life. The children of Israel, both Jews and Christians believe, are at stake and it is up to them to ensure its flourishing. “Certainly, by Christians supporting Just One Life and other organizations that promote life, we are continuing our shared work that is based on our value for life and vision for the future,” said Jollay. Originally posted on Breaking Israel News
MANHATTAN – Presumably the most important investments ever made at the New York Stock Exchange took place recently at an unusual time: after the institution that powers Wall Street had closed for business. Unparalleled returns are guaranteed for the long term – eternity, really – and will benefit not just the investors, but the entire world. The assets to be generated? Thousands of Jewish neshamos and their descendants. On Monday evening, Dec. 13, one of the economic capitals of the world was transformed into a center for saving lives. Just One Life, a non-profit social service organization that provides expectant couples and women in Israel with the support and services they need to overcome crisis and carry their children to term, held an historic event right there on the Exchange trading floor. Over 500 people attended “An IPO Evening” (Inspiration, Promise and Opportunity) to support JOL’s crucial work. While non-industry and charitable functions have been held at the NYSE before, JOL organizers said “AN IPO Evening” was the first kosher one. JOL’s name is based on the Gemara in Sanhedrin 37a: “He who saves just one life in Israel is one who has saved an entire world.” Teaneck businessman and JOL Chairman Jack Forgash founded the agency in 1989 after reading an article about an alarming trend of desperate parents- to-be and babies at risk in Eretz Yisrael. “Israel’s main resource is its children,” Mr. Forgash was quoted as saying in a recent Jewish Standard article. “Each child our organization helps bring into the world multiplies our people a hundredfold.” The results were impressive, and 17 executives, were presented with “One Angel” awards. The master of ceremonies was Guy Adami, vice chairman of TradeMonster and featured commentator on CNBC’s Fast Money.
As in years past, the founders and supporters of “Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael” or “Just One Life” will join together for its annual benefit evening in Teaneck during the Nine Days, on Wednesday, August 7. According to founder and American Chairman and Israeli Co-Chairman Jack Forgash, “This time of year marking the churban of both of our precious Batei Mikdash can best be memorialized by supporting an organization that has effectively helped to recoup the loss of Jewish lives. It has been statistically proven that there were more Jewish children born in the State of Israel during its brief 71-year history than in all of its prior 2,000 years of history in the land. We can modestly attest that the work of Just One Life has been an important component in that impressive statistic.” Included in its ever-increasing services to mothers in Israel who are beset with challenges before and after giving birth, Just One Life offers supportive counseling, financial stipends, home visits, referrals to government and private agencies and advocacy. Their headquarters are in the beautifully renovated offices near Rechov King George in the center of Jerusalem. According to new Director Chaya Katzin, who serves as well as the chief social worker and supervisor of the team of social workers, this past year has seen an impressive increase in services offered. Through an expanded program of workshops, clients are provided with multi-session courses in parenting skills, psycho-dynamic approaches to dealing with the past, present and future, mind-body techniques for dealing with stress and anxiety, and identifying behavioral techniques for achieving happiness and comfort. These multi-session workshops are subsidized and often result in creating support groups among the attendees. Interns from both Shaare Zedek Hospital and Hadassah College in conjunction with Hadassah Hospital work alongside the Just One Life social work team. In appreciation of their work, Dr. Uri Chen, of the Hadassah School of Medicine, wrote a letter to Katzin: “There is no doubt that your assistance brought about circumstances that were optimal to helping women and couples during their difficult predicaments and brought about beneficial outcomes.” Upon her retirement last year, Madelaine Gitelman, who served as the director of social work at Just One Life for over 30 years, became chairman of the board, which she now co-chairs with Jack Forgash. Upon her retirement, Gitelman received a congratulatory letter from Ambassador Danny Danon, permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations, who shared: “I would like to extend my appreciation to Madelaine Gitelman in recognition of her incredible leadership of Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael. Bringing Just One Life to Israel brought the issue of raising Jewish children straight to the heart of the Jewish world.” Rabbi Martin Katz, who has served as the executive vice president of Just One Life for close to 30 years, commented upon his recent “awesome” trip to Israel: “I spent many quality hours with Chaya Katzin and her team of social workers. I visited with new mothers and their happy babies. I listened to the testimonies of women who had overcome difficult times and situations with the help of Just One Life. I saw baby triplets born with our assistance as well as Yael, our former client, mother to now 20-year-old quadruplets. On occasion I am asked how it feels to be doing such holy work. My response is that I am simply a messenger. In turn, I would like to thank the generous communities of Teaneck/Bergenfield for being our special partners in this holy work.” The community is invited to attend the evening of tribute to Just One Life to be held on Wednesday, August 7, at 8 p.m., at the home of Rachel and Azi Mandel, 60 Westminster Avenue, Bergenfield. Co-hosting the evening are Sheryl and Aaron Liberman. Organizers include Rayzel and Ron Yaish, Fraidy and Stuart Forgash, Cindy and Elliot Forgash and Carole and Jack Forgash.The speaker for the evening is the internationally renowned inspirational Torah scholar Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson. For more information and to reserve, please call 347-996-7751 or visit www.justonelife.org. Article originally appeared on The Jewish Link.
Former Ambassador of Israel to the UN
Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center
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