Issue 101 | November 2023
Get Involved Visit Our Website Donate
JF&CS Stands with Israel

Very rarely do we feel compelled to share a personal message in Family Matters. Yet the attack on innocent Israeli civilians by Hamas on October 7, the rise in antisemitism in Toronto and around the world, and the increased need for mental health support by our community have motivated us to share our thoughts with you – our valuable community, stakeholders, donors and clients. JF&CS was formed 155 years ago in response to a need to offer support, care and safety to the most vulnerable in our community. We continue to adapt and grow in response to emerging needs triggered by local and worldwide events, such as the Depression, the Holocaust, and, most recently, the pandemic. Today is no different.

Over the past five weeks, we have witnessed the trauma resulting from the October 7 attack on the community we serve. Our staff, who are the backbone of our work, have faced their own trauma and struggles. Ensuring that we support our staff became essential to the everyday work of JF&CS – to help others, we must sometimes first help the helpers. Our clients, who rely on JF&CS for support in areas such as domestic violence, poverty reduction, mental health and Holocaust services, are facing exacerbated trauma and fear. Israelis who have come to Toronto, either permanently or temporarily, are needing and seeking support.  

JF&CS remains committed to our mission to be the community's safety net and provide critical services to individuals and families across the GTA. Now more than ever, we must stand together as a strong Jewish family.  

Ahavat Yisrael (Love for One's Fellow Jews) teaches the importance of unity and supporting one another within our community. By strengthening these bonds and creating a sense of belonging, we will remain a strong, vibrant and proud community.

JF&CS stands with Israel and is there for our community – Every step of the way.

- Talyah Breslin, Chief Executive Officer and Sharon List, Board President

Annual General Meeting Highlights

Thank you to all our donors, staff, board and community members who came to JF&CS' Annual General Meeting on Thursday, September 28. We were proud to welcome everyone in person this year and to provide the opportunity for guests to tour the new Toronto Holocaust Museum. 

Today, aging Holocaust survivors face increasing challenges and turn to JF&CS for assistance. This was the focus of our AGM, and we were fortunate to hear remarks from Dori Ekstein, child of Survivors, Holocaust educator and Vice Chair of the Committee for Holocaust Survivors in need, as well as inspirational words from our keynote speaker, Pinchas Gutter, Survivor, author and Chair of the Committee for Holocaust Survivors in Need. We also shared a moving video testimonial from one of our clients. With the support of our community we are helping Survivors live the rest of their lives with dignity and comfort. 

One JF&CS staff member in attendance shared, "I want to thank you for arranging such a wonderful AGM. It was a brilliant idea to start the night with a tour of the Holocaust museum, as it set the tone for the entire evening. The speakers were so moving and powerful and it was a great approach to have everything tie together thematically. There was something so nice about listening to Pinchas Gutter – of course the content was meaningful, but I also enjoyed hearing the little bit of the Yiddish accent that came through when he spoke. It reminded me of my grandparents and their speech intonation and inflection that I do not get to hear anymore and miss terribly. Once again, I am reminded how fortunate I am to work at such an amazing organization."

At the end of the evening, we welcomed back Sharon List as the incoming President of the Board of Directors for Jewish Family and Child Service. As a past president, long-time volunteer and board member, Sharon remains steadfast in her commitment to the agency and the community, and we are honoured to have her back in this role.

Click here to view our 2022-2023 Annual Report.

Showing Kindness for Israel Where We Least Expect

At a time when it is hard to find moments of light in the darkness, human kindness once again shines through. At JF&CS, we are proud to be a beacon within Toronto's Jewish and broader communities. For 155 years, we have offered strength and resilience to those who need it most. It is at times of extreme stress and trauma that our extended community stands with us to help us fulfill our mission.

Shortly after the October 7 attack, we received a donation from a local church. It was not the donation itself that stood out the most, but rather the letter that accompanied the donation that moved us beyond words. "We want to express our unwavering support for the State of Israel and its people during these challenging times," the letter read, "It is during times like these that the strength of our shared values and our commitment to standing together becomes even more evident. While our faith traditions may differ, we believe in the fundamental principles of justice, peace, and the sanctity of human life.

JF&CS was also contacted by a community member who had collected an abundance of supplies to send to Israel – everything from hand warmers to protein bars to diapers and more. When she learned that not all of the items she collected could be shipped to Israel, she approached JF&CS so that our clients could benefit from these items. The above photo gives a sense of the types of items donated. Over 80 items were donated. 

We are eternally grateful to our unbelievably dedicated community members and supporters for their allyship. JF&CS stands with Israel during this difficult time and carries on providing crucial support to those in need. 

JF&CS Dresses Purple in Support of Child Abuse Prevention

Every October, Children's Aid Societies in Ontario raise awareness about the important part we all play in child abuse prevention through the Dress Purple initiative. This year, we continued to stand with Israel through an incredibly dark and challenging time while also honouring the work of our staff, who support children and families facing challenges here in Toronto. 

Our Child Welfare and Family Service teams at JF&CS support over 400 vulnerable children each year, including cases of abuse and neglect. We respond to all reports of suspected child abuse within our community and work with families to reduce violence, stress or safety issues in the home. Through the success of these combined efforts, less than 1% of children who are supported by our staff are brought into the care of the agency. Over 99% of these children are able to remain safely with their families and extended families.

In honour of this year's Dress Purple initiative, JF&CS staff donned purple clothing and ribbons to show their support. "Our teams work hard every day ensuring that parents and caregivers are connected with the right supports to navigate challenges and increase safety and stability in their homes," says Samara Miller, Manager of Child Protection. To learn more about how JF&CS provides safety and security to the community, please click here.

It's Almost Time for Chanukah!

Last year, JF&CS was able to brighten the lives of hundreds of children and youth during Chanukah. This year, we will also bring the miracle of Chanukah to Israeli families who find themselves away from their homes and loved ones.

By donating to JF&CS' Drive For Dreidels, you will help us to purchase new toys and gift cards for our community's children and youth. #bethelight this Chanukah.

To support Drive for Dreidels, please click here.

Our Chanukah Cards are also available, providing a meaningful way to wish your family and friends Chag Sameach while supporting JF&CS clients. Let JF&CS send a tribute card on your behalf to acknowledge your donation. With your gift, we can help our most vulnerable and isolated community members celebrate Chanukah in a meaningful way.

Order your tribute cards today by clicking here.


In-Person Appointment Resources

Click here

Join the Monthly Mitzvah Makers! 
JF&CS' monthly giving program.
Click here for more information. 

Leave a Legacy 
Click here to learn about planned giving through the Gordon S. Wolfe Legacy Society at JF&CS.

We Can Help You
Learn about our programs and services.

Get Involved


Emerging Leaders

Jewish Family and Child Service | 4600 Bathurst St, 1st Floor, Toronto, ON   M2R 3V3
416-638-7800  |
Privacy Policy  |  Visit Our Website  Unsubscribe |  View Eblast Online