In March and April, Debbie Zoller, executive director of Jewish Family Service, will address the importance of synagogue connections with JFS at synagogues around the Lehigh Valley.
The main message of her talk, which is titled “Under the Radar and Over the Rainbow: How Our Community Benefits When JFS and Synagogues Work Together,” is to “pay attention to people who may not be the same,” taking care to avoid being judgmental and try to understand and accept other people’s life circumstances. “They may not have anybody else,” Zoller added, noting that synagogues are often a place where people go to find support from others.
“We don’t always take the time to listen,” Zoller said about her talk. Oftentimes, “we pay attention to people who are very capable and speak up loudly, but we don’t pay attention to those who are fragile, hurting or alone.”
In addition to offering ideas about how to support congregants who are going through hard times, Zoller wants to let the community know about the different services JFS can offer for them. She intends to offer different services to address the needs of each synagogue, including volunteer training through JFS’s new training program, counseling on how to be a more caring community and advice on how to be sensitive to older adults with increasing needs and people with mental and physical illnesses.
Zoller will be speaking at Temple Beth El in Allentown on March 11, Congregation Keneseth Israel in Allentown on March 17, Congregation Brith Sholom in Bethlehem on April 1, Temple Israel of Lehighton on April 21, Congregation Sons of Israel in Allentown on April 22, and Temple Covenant of Peace and B’nai Abraham Synagogue in Easton on April 28. Additional engagements may be added. Programs are open to the community.