The Jewish Family and Vocational Service of Middlesex County celebrated the grand opening of its expanded Monroe offices with food, entertainment, and the announcement that it had formed a partnership with the Jewish Historical Society of Central Jersey and the Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living.
The enlargement of the office, which has been located in the Concordia Shopping Center for about 30 years, provides JFVS with the opportunity to add staff and programming.
The expansion came in response to the growing number of adult communities in Monroe with significant Jewish populations. A development boom has also increased the demand for family, teen, and child services.
On June 4, about 125 people came to see the newly enlarged office and get a sampling of what it offers.
Recalling that the agency began in a space in a podiatrist’s office under the auspices of the Jewish Family Service of Southern Middlesex County, JFVS executive director Sara Levine said the day was a culmination of a long-held dream.
The JFS-SMC merged with the Jewish Family and Vocational Service of Northern Middlesex County seven years ago. It also has an office in Milltown.
Last year, after the adjacent Rite-Aid moved from the shopping center, landlord Richard Anderson offered JFVS the space, agreeing to absorb some of the costs.
The Morris and Lydia Goldfarb Foundation, a JFVS supporter that was winding down its operations, earmarked $25,000 toward the expansion.
Another longtime supporter, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, kicked in additional funds.
JFVS unveiled plaques that will honor the Laurie Foundation and Congregation Beit Shalom, which meets in a space at the shopping center. The synagogue hosts the agency’s Senior Chai group, provides volunteers, and donates food to its kosher food pantry.
The historical society has already begun holding monthly speaker programs in the expanded space. The Wilf Campus began offering wellness and education programming out of the offices this month.
Toby Ehrlich, Wilf’s director of corporate marketing, said the free programs will be largely conducted by nursing liaison Mary Jane Yoder. The next several programs will include blood pressure screening, massage therapy, and a session on preventing dehydration.
Ehrlich said she expected transportation to be offered in the coming months between JFVS and Wilf’s Somerset campus to increase accessibility for Monroe seniors to take advantage of services, social programs, and to visit friends and relatives.
“We’ve always had this idea to do this jointly,” she said. “Since we service older Jewish adults, this is kind of a bridge.”
Other programs and services now being offered include evening counseling sessions, scrapbooking classes, and gossip and games afternoons. JFVS expects to start a bereavement group for those who have lost adult children, launch a second women’s support club, and revive its dormant men’s club.
In offering blessings for the new offices, Beit Shalom’s Cantor Eli Perlman cited Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, which states that the world is built on three things: Torah, hard work, and acts of loving-kindness.
“This is what you do every single day of the week,” said Perlman. “You built this office with hard work and you do good work here.”
About one quarter of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County’s local allocations goes to JFVS, said federation associate executive director Susan Antman.
“That is a statement of what your organization does and the value it has in this community,” she said.
Referring to the spies sent by Moses to scout out the Promised Land, JFVS president Murray Katz encouraged those present “to scout out the land of Monroe Township” and “the wonderful things we do here that help.”