I was helped at a crucial time in my life

Rimma Zelfand
I originally emigrated from Russia to New York, but I moved to Montreal to marry my husband who had recently immigrated there, and we were resettled with the help of many Jewish agencies in Montreal. In fact, our first car in Montreal was bought with a Hebrew Free Loan, and my husband’s first job as an engineer at McGill was found by Jewish Vocational Services. These agencies in Montreal helped us at a pivotal moment in our lives when we needed aid in the form of jobs and support. My husband would have never known about the job opening had JVS not helped him.
The interesting twist is that I now run a $33 million organization in Boston that provides similar services. At Jewish Family & Children's Service (JF&CS) of Greater Boston, our mission is to improve people’s lives and help vulnerable people. We believe that vulnerability can be described in many ways - financial crisis, a sick child, an aging parent, or a chronic illness. JF&CS of Greater Boston helps 17 000 clients every year. What’s important for agencies like us to remember is that crisis and vulnerability include a lot of conditions, and we need to be flexible enough to meet those needs.
One of my priorities is to help the most vulnerable, and at the same time, bring sustainability to our clients: from isolation to community, from crisis to stability, from dependency to independence. As we move into the 21st century, the most important goal of human services agencies in my mind is to help people who cannot help themselves.
I was helped at a crucial time in my life. Just the sense that there was someone taking care of us was crucial. As we talk to our clients, they have crucial moments and need someone to tip the scale in their favor, and I hope that agencies like JF&CS of Greater Boston and Ometz can be there to do just that.
The Jewish community in Boston is very charitable, generous, and forward thinking, and the Montreal Jewish community is just the same. We are helping Jews and non-Jews alike, and we see it as our responsibility to do just that.

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