If you were a fly on the wall at our JOL end of year and farewell student party, you may have thought you were witnessing a family celebrating two relatives moving on to the next stage of their lives. Led by the dedicated and passionate Chaya Katzin, the JOL team has a bond that can only be compared to that of a family. As we gathered together for a beautiful lunch celebrating our year, each staff member had the opportunity to share their unique reflections on our year at JOL. Staff members expressed their pride, passion, and sense of privilege they feel as a staff member of JOL. We all left the party baring beautiful gifts from our students and director, but most of all with the renewed energy to keep on growing and servicing the community at Just One Life.
As the Nine days approach, the staff and supporters of “Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael” or “Just One Life” are planning their annual Teaneck/Bergenfield benefit. This year, the event will be live streamed for the community on Tuesday evening, July 28. The guest speaker is Rabbi YY Jacobson a world renown lecturer and a friend of Just One Life. This years' event will once again be hosted by Rachel and Azi Mandel and Sheryl and Aaron Liberman. Jack Forgash, founder and Co-Chairmen, is excited to bring technology to Just One Life and their events. “It has been many years and several events in various communities, but now it’s time to share our wealth of talented speakers and the Just One Life mission and reach more people”. For many women in Israel suffering from financial and emotional stress, the news of a pregnancy is too much to bear. That’s where Just One Life USA), or Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael (Israel), steps in. Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael (Israel Amutah)/Just One Life (USA 501-C-3) was formed in 1988 by concerned individuals who recognized the need to provide support for expectant mothers in Israel, where financial hardship and social and medical issues can lead to difficult pregnancies. The group’s name was derived from the Talmudic passage in Sanhedrin that states that “He who saves a single life in Israel, has saved an entire world.” (Talmud) In the 31 years since, the non-profit is credited with saving many worlds over. Since its establishment, Just One Life has been instrumental in the births and lives of over 18,500 Israeli children. The key to the organization’s success is that “we provide stability to families who are experiencing turbulence in their lives,” said Rabbi Martin Katz, who has served as the USA Executive Vice President of Just One Life since its founding. Through professional counseling, emotional support and financial assistance, Just One Life empowers mothers to bring their pregnancy to full term, thus preserving Israel’s most precious resource - its children. Veteran social worker Chaya Katzin, the Israel director, typically meets expectant couples at the cozy Just One Life office on Jerusalem’s King George Street where they speak about their anxieties and fears. She urges them to consider their options, as well as the types of assistance that would alleviate their pressures. Together with her team of social workers, she helps couples navigate the social, emotional and economic issues that can accompany an untimely or at-risk pregnancy. “Because many couples are not equipped with financial resources or a support system, their ability to raise a family is compromised,” Katzin said about her clients. “Helping women think about their choices and empowering them to understand their strengths is the goal of our intervention. We try to bring down the crisis level and arm women with the skills they need to more easily manage their lives,” she added. The social workers at Just One Life aid approximately 500 families every year. The couples come from all over Israel and from a broad range of backgrounds: religious and secular, Ashkenazi and Sephardic and new immigrants as well as longtime Israelis. But what the women share in common is that all face limited incomes, stressful family situations or health issues. A pregnancy only adds to their long roster of problems. Women often find their way to the Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael/Just One Life office through referrals from doctors, social workers, nurses and welfare offices. The couples do not encounter any anti-abortion propaganda from the organization. Instead, they are encouraged to talk about what they would need in order to raise a child. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of money. The group also receives referrals from major hospitals across Israel. Dr. Uri Chen, Director of the ultrasound maternity unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, has referred many patients to Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael over the years. In one of his letters of thanks to the organization, he praised the group’s important work. “There is no doubt that your assistance brought about circumstances that were optimal in helping the couples during their difficult predicaments and brought about beneficial outcomes,” he wrote. The vast majority of the cases are families with limited income. Currently, 1.7 million people in Israel are living below poverty level. Just One Life provides nearly $1800 to each mother for financial and psychological services. The group also offers assistance to those with high-risk pregnancies. The founders of the organization were Rabbi Solomon J. Sharfman, A”H, Dr. Shimon Glick, who was then the Dean of Ben Gurion University Soroka Hospital, Jack Forgash, a businessman from the USA and a friend of Dr. Glick and Rabbi Sharfman ,and Madelaine Gittleman from Jerusalem who became the Director and Head social workers in 1989 of the Amutah. Just One Life has earned praise from Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon, Israel’s representative to the United Nations, who penned a letter recognizing the group’s three decades of success in bringing Jewish life into the world. “Your work for Jewish families is fundamental to the future and well-being of the Jewish people,” he wrote. “Bringing Just One Life to Israel was an important development, and brought the issue of raising Jewish children straight to the heart of the Jewish world.” The children who have been born in large part because of Just One Life are now taking their rightful places in society. Many have grown up to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, attend Torah institutions and universities and have families of their own. Among the thousands of mothers who have been helped through the organization was a young Sephardic woman who was pregnant with quadruplets and had additional children at home. Her doctor advised her to the reduce the number of babies, but Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael (Just One Life) took her and her husband under its wing by offering her support, financial aid and the assistance of a high-risk pregnancy expert. After giving birth to the first naturally born quadruplet boys in Israel, the couple was assisted financially and emotionally through the beginning years. The quadruplets recently celebrated their 21 birthday. Two are learning in Yeshiva, one is working at the police department and the fourth is doing national service. One of them got married before Passover. Rabbi Katz and his wife met with this family in Israel, one month before the wedding. In the 31 years since the organization has been helping women have their babies, nobody has ever come back to complain, recounts Katz. “But many have returned to give thanks. They say, `I can’t imagine what my life would be like without my children.’” The community is invited to attend the livestream event on Tuesday July, 28 at 8pm for Just One Life by registering at jol.vsociallive.comFor more information, call 347 766-7751
Center Left Shira (Therapist) Chaya (Director/Therapist) with 2 Clients
Rabbi Marty Katz has been saving lives in Israel for 30 years – as a part of his work with Israel-based non-profit Just One Life (JOL), he has saved 17,500 babies, including several sets of twins and triplets and even a set of quadruplets who are now 20 years old. It is this work of saving lives through counseling ambivalent, expectant mothers deciding whether to terminate their pregnancy that Katz has become an ally and personal friend to some of the biggest names in the American Evangelical world, such as Pastor John and Diana Hagee, who he says are “amazing people” with great influence over Washington. Not only do they exchange Shabbat (Jewish sabbath) greetings every week, but Pastor Hagee, founder and national chairman for the largest pro-Israel grassroots organization in the United States, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), has ‘put his money where his mouth is,’ supporting JOL with hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past several years and setting an example for other Evangelical churches who have followed in their wake. This year, Katz accepted a gift of $100,000 from John Hagee Ministries at his 37th Annual “A Night To Honor Israel” event at the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, with Hagee’s Rabbi and Katz’s good friend Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg. At the forefront of saving Jewish lives in Israel, JOL has gained respect, receiving its financial assistance from dedicated supporters around the world, and in particular, Evangelical Christians who are invested in creating a flourishing Jewish state and supporting the children of Israel. Receiving funds from Pastor George and Cheryl Morrison of the Faith Bible Church in Denver, Pastor Sharon Dougherty from Oklahoma, Pastor Ron Lewis from North Carolina, the Grace Covenant Church of Virginia, the Solace Church in Oklahoma and Pastor Reymundo Meneses of the Life Church of Memphis, their support allows the organization to provide their clients with the security to make critical future-focused decisions for themselves and their families. Doing so relieves burdens before and after the baby arrives, and with this clarity and confidence provided to the client, JOL has saved thousands of lives of women and families in crisis – what a cause! Saving ‘Just One Life’ For the Jewish people, the desire to save lives stems from a central text of rabbinic Judaism. The Talmud states, “Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” JOL and its team of professional social workers who empower women who find themselves in a crisis situation during pregnancy have thus saved thousands of worlds, acting as cause-leaders. “We are willing to do nearly anything to save just one life,” Katz told Breaking Israel News. “We can help pay a woman’s bills and rent, offer parenting workshops, support and even train spouses who need another job to pay for a baby.” Doing so creates dignity for a family and is not a simple band-aid over a financial issue, but a longer-term investment into the future of the family. “In the absence of the support of others, we are here to reach out with an emotional and loving hand,” said Katz. By assisting mothers with challenges ranging from mental health issues, medical problems with the pregnancy, abuse, poverty and more, nearly all the women JOL sees – women who were considering abortion – to keep their babies. Such values and programs have garnered the organization great financial support from both Orthodox Jewish and often right-wing, pro-Israel Christian donors, including Evangelical Christians whose ‘pro-life’ agenda aligns with the Jewish value of saving lives. “The Evangelicals say we are doing holy work. They love us, they love the holy land and they love Israel,” maintained Katz. “We are tied to the Evangelical Christians.” A Pro-Chance Stance According to cause-leader and JOL director Bini Maryles, however, Just One Life does not want to be labeled as ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ – “We are what we call ‘pro-chance,’” he told Breaking Israel News – “giving every future mother the chance to make great, empowering, knowledgeable, future focused decisions about herself, her children and her family.” Despite some theological differences regarding the definition of life between Orthodox Jews and Evangelical Christians, Donna Jollay, co-founder of educational platform Yeshiva for the Nations, which aims to revolutionize Christian thinking about the Torah, maintains that Jews and Christians both value life, treating it with honor and dignity – and this is just one of the shared values that have led to the natural alliance between Christians and Jews in supporting Just one Life. The children of Israel, both Jews and Christians believe, are at stake and it is up to them to ensure its flourishing. “Certainly, by Christians supporting Just One Life and other organizations that promote life, we are continuing our shared work that is based on our value for life and vision for the future,” said Jollay. Originally posted on Breaking Israel News
MANHATTAN – Presumably the most important investments ever made at the New York Stock Exchange took place recently at an unusual time: after the institution that powers Wall Street had closed for business. Unparalleled returns are guaranteed for the long term – eternity, really – and will benefit not just the investors, but the entire world. The assets to be generated? Thousands of Jewish neshamos and their descendants. On Monday evening, Dec. 13, one of the economic capitals of the world was transformed into a center for saving lives. Just One Life, a non-profit social service organization that provides expectant couples and women in Israel with the support and services they need to overcome crisis and carry their children to term, held an historic event right there on the Exchange trading floor. Over 500 people attended “An IPO Evening” (Inspiration, Promise and Opportunity) to support JOL’s crucial work. While non-industry and charitable functions have been held at the NYSE before, JOL organizers said “AN IPO Evening” was the first kosher one. JOL’s name is based on the Gemara in Sanhedrin 37a: “He who saves just one life in Israel is one who has saved an entire world.” Teaneck businessman and JOL Chairman Jack Forgash founded the agency in 1989 after reading an article about an alarming trend of desperate parents- to-be and babies at risk in Eretz Yisrael. “Israel’s main resource is its children,” Mr. Forgash was quoted as saying in a recent Jewish Standard article. “Each child our organization helps bring into the world multiplies our people a hundredfold.” The results were impressive, and 17 executives, were presented with “One Angel” awards. The master of ceremonies was Guy Adami, vice chairman of TradeMonster and featured commentator on CNBC’s Fast Money.
As in years past, the founders and supporters of “Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael” or “Just One Life” will join together for its annual benefit evening in Teaneck during the Nine Days, on Wednesday, August 7. According to founder and American Chairman and Israeli Co-Chairman Jack Forgash, “This time of year marking the churban of both of our precious Batei Mikdash can best be memorialized by supporting an organization that has effectively helped to recoup the loss of Jewish lives. It has been statistically proven that there were more Jewish children born in the State of Israel during its brief 71-year history than in all of its prior 2,000 years of history in the land. We can modestly attest that the work of Just One Life has been an important component in that impressive statistic.” Included in its ever-increasing services to mothers in Israel who are beset with challenges before and after giving birth, Just One Life offers supportive counseling, financial stipends, home visits, referrals to government and private agencies and advocacy. Their headquarters are in the beautifully renovated offices near Rechov King George in the center of Jerusalem. According to new Director Chaya Katzin, who serves as well as the chief social worker and supervisor of the team of social workers, this past year has seen an impressive increase in services offered. Through an expanded program of workshops, clients are provided with multi-session courses in parenting skills, psycho-dynamic approaches to dealing with the past, present and future, mind-body techniques for dealing with stress and anxiety, and identifying behavioral techniques for achieving happiness and comfort. These multi-session workshops are subsidized and often result in creating support groups among the attendees. Interns from both Shaare Zedek Hospital and Hadassah College in conjunction with Hadassah Hospital work alongside the Just One Life social work team. In appreciation of their work, Dr. Uri Chen, of the Hadassah School of Medicine, wrote a letter to Katzin: “There is no doubt that your assistance brought about circumstances that were optimal to helping women and couples during their difficult predicaments and brought about beneficial outcomes.” Upon her retirement last year, Madelaine Gitelman, who served as the director of social work at Just One Life for over 30 years, became chairman of the board, which she now co-chairs with Jack Forgash. Upon her retirement, Gitelman received a congratulatory letter from Ambassador Danny Danon, permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations, who shared: “I would like to extend my appreciation to Madelaine Gitelman in recognition of her incredible leadership of Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael. Bringing Just One Life to Israel brought the issue of raising Jewish children straight to the heart of the Jewish world.” Rabbi Martin Katz, who has served as the executive vice president of Just One Life for close to 30 years, commented upon his recent “awesome” trip to Israel: “I spent many quality hours with Chaya Katzin and her team of social workers. I visited with new mothers and their happy babies. I listened to the testimonies of women who had overcome difficult times and situations with the help of Just One Life. I saw baby triplets born with our assistance as well as Yael, our former client, mother to now 20-year-old quadruplets. On occasion I am asked how it feels to be doing such holy work. My response is that I am simply a messenger. In turn, I would like to thank the generous communities of Teaneck/Bergenfield for being our special partners in this holy work.” The community is invited to attend the evening of tribute to Just One Life to be held on Wednesday, August 7, at 8 p.m., at the home of Rachel and Azi Mandel, 60 Westminster Avenue, Bergenfield. Co-hosting the evening are Sheryl and Aaron Liberman. Organizers include Rayzel and Ron Yaish, Fraidy and Stuart Forgash, Cindy and Elliot Forgash and Carole and Jack Forgash.The speaker for the evening is the internationally renowned inspirational Torah scholar Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson. For more information and to reserve, please call 347-996-7751 or visit www.justonelife.org. Article originally appeared on The Jewish Link.
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