A message from Olga Vaynshtok, JFS Board Chair and John A. Yopps, President & CEO

As a Human Service agency with a legacy born of oppression, discrimination, persecution, and hopefulness, we are profoundly disturbed by the death of yet another Black citizen. The continued disproportionate violence, threat of loss of life, and death that afflicts our Black community and the deflection of meaningful structural and systemic reform and accountability that result in these tragedies has family, friends, neighbors and colleagues living in peril for their lives and their future. The inability of public institutions to ensure safety for Black citizens continues to fuel righteous civil discord and outrage, but is the basis on which there CAN be action. This not a right-away, feel-good action; although peaceful protest can be soothing; it is the satisfaction that comes from purposeful, determined and sustained resolve for action that results in successful, lasting change.   

JFS believes in the sanctity of all Black lives, being a conscientious and persistent voice for equity and decency in our community, and in the effort for change. Our service to the community is based in Jewish traditions of Tikkun Olam (making the world a better place), Chesed (kindness) and Tzedekah (righteousness and justice), instilling in JFS a deeply rooted sense of obligation to serve and support our community. We are also agents of change and healing and embrace the declaration made in 1776 that all persons “… are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”; conferring a birth right that remains in conflict with the lived experience of our Black sisters, brothers, friends and family members.

Black lives matter. JFS advocates for legislative, legal and policing systemic change, which can and will only be accomplished through the power of our right to vote. We grieve with Alvin Coles family and our community, and all others whose lives were tragically cut short by these senseless actions. We are resolved that this will not be an end to the peace and justice these Black lives lost deserve, that our community needs, that humanity demands – and that we must all work for.  

Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.

–Rep. John Lewis, in a tweet from June, 2018

Olga Vaynshtok, Chair                                   John A. Yopps, MS, ACHE
Board Of Directors                                          President and CEO
Jewish Family Services, Inc.                          Jewish Family Services, Inc