Community Conversations - JFSSD
Moving Forward Together

Center for Jewish Care Community Conversations: Learning Together

The Center for Jewish Care at JFS provides a home to engage in authentic and meaningful Jewish conversations. As a community, we have a rich history of studying our ancient texts to reveal values that can inform our beliefs and actions. While some individuals commit to personal study, our tradition also encourages studying in pairs or community (hevruta) recognizing that healthy discussion and even debate can illuminate alternate perspectives, new understandings, and innovative approaches to today’s challenges.

Together, we critically examine how the teachings of our heritage can be applied to modern issues, whether how to maintain our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, care for our loved ones and neighbors in need, or even fresh takes on current headlines. Each conversation welcomes our community into dialogue with thought-provoking community leaders, clergy, educators, therapists, and other national and local experts. The Center for Jewish Care invites you to study and learn with us.

Past Conversations


Jewish Approaches to Mental Wellness: An Exploration of Jewish Values and Prayer

Featured Speaker: Carly Coons, Director of Education and Programming, The Blue Dove Foundation

Join the Center for Jewish Care, The Blue Dove Foundation, and the Jewish Federation of San Diego as we guide you through activities that explore the ways middot (Jewish values) and prayer affect our mental health. Together, we’ll take a deeper look into the Mi Sheberach (a traditional prayer for healing) and write unique prayers for our mental health.

Watch Conversation Recording >>


Jewish Approaches to Parenting in Challenging Times

Panelists: Andrea Guttman, LMFT and Becca Lantry, AMFT

We invite you to be a part of a supportive community conversation that will explore the intersection of Jewish values, social-emotional development, and mental health in the context of raising resilient and thriving children.

Watch Conversation Recording >>

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Navigating Today’s Emotional and Spiritual Wounds

Panelists: Dr. Bruce Sachs, JFS Psychologist, and Rabbi Susan Freeman, Director Center for Jewish Care, Board Certified Chaplain, ACPE

We are living through an enormously stressful time that impacts each of us in a very personal way. While we may experience the feeling of being overwhelmed, we do have choices in how we respond to tragedy. In this conversation, Dr. Bruce Sachs and Rabbi Susan Freeman will share strategies for caring for ourselves amidst the turbulence we may be experiencing. Join us as we discuss concepts from the world of psychology, share spiritual insights, and engage in real-time coping activities.

Watch Conversation Recording >>


Aging With Resilience: Combating Loneliness and Enhancing Your Mental Health

Dr. Dara Bliss Schwartz, Lead Clinical Psychologist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital

The science and data are very clear: social isolation is one of the most dangerous risk factors affecting older adults. But as we age, maintaining social connections and prioritizing our mental wellness can often get put on the backburner. Taking care of our mental health is even more important during these unprecedented times. Join us for an inspiring discussion to discover how we can age with resilience and combat loneliness during the pandemic and beyond.

We’ll discuss:

  • Common myths about aging
  • How loneliness and dementia affect the aging process
  • The impact of COVID-19 on social isolation
  • Easy tips on how to stay mentally strong as we get older

Watch Conversation Recording >>


Holocaust Survivors in San Diego: Our Commitment and Our Responsibility

Michael Hopkins, CEO, Jewish Family Service
Michael Jeser, CEO, Jewish Federation of San Diego County
Hedy Dalin, Director of Care Management/Supporting Older Survivors, Jewish Family Service
Darren Schwartz, CPSO, Jewish Federation of San Diego County

In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, join Jewish Family Service of San Diego and Jewish Federation of San Diego County as we explore the unique and dynamic needs of the 500 Holocaust Survivors who call our community home. The recent pandemic and stay-at-home orders have only deepened the needs of this vulnerable population, especially as they trigger memories of isolation and helplessness. After enduring one of the darkest periods in human history, our community has a responsibility and a commitment to ensure Survivors age with dignity. Join our discussion to learn more about what we can do individually and as a community.

Watch Conversation Recording >>


Cultivating Calm and Resilience in Challenging Times

Dr. Rachel Goldenhar, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Co-Chair JFS Behavioral Health Committee
Julie Potiker, Mindfulness Expert, Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher, Author of Life Falls Apart, But You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos

Does 2020 have you feeling stressed? You are not alone. Between the impacts of the pandemic, the contentious election cycle, racial injustice, and natural disasters, stress and anxiety levels are up, and mental health is down. A recent study reported that 44% of Californians are experiencing clinical levels of anxiety and depression. Chronic stress not only impacts our emotions and sleep, it can also be detrimental to our physical health.

Join JFS and local experts in this workshop to learn and practice coping strategies to alleviate your stress and anxiety. You will be guided through several exercises to adopt in your daily routine such as mindfulness, meditation, and rewiring your brain for more happiness and resilience. Finally, learn to recognize when self-coping mechanisms are not enough and understand when to go for professional support.

Watch Conversation Recording >>


Becoming an Anti-Racist Jewish Community

Nate Looney, Jews of Color Recruiter, Avodah

Rabbi Yael Ridberg, Congregation Dor Hadash
Kelsey Greenberg Young, Education Director, ADL San Diego
Micah Parzen, CEO, Museum of Man

JFS invites the Jewish community to come together to learn about implicit bias, how to recognize covert racism and microaggressions, and to understand the role of becoming an ally in this work. Our speakers will provide tools on how to become an anti-racist and take actions to create meaningful and transformative action.

Watch Conversation Recording >>


Teen Talk: Finding Connection, Coping Strategies, and Hope for the Future

Sarah Greenstein, Guidance Counselor, San Diego Jewish Academy
Ashley McGuire, Professional Peacemaker and Restorative Justice Practitioner
Ali Shapiro and Ilana Goldklang, Teen Leaders, Jewish Family Service

Daria Tomsky, Teen Leadership Coordinator, Jewish Family Service
Matthew Ewing, Teen Leader, Jewish Family Service

This Community Conversation focuses on how to find connection, motivation, and a sense of belonging during these challenging times. From accessing mental health resources to creating daily routines, we’ll talk about our collective anxiety, find creative ways to stay connected and learn how to navigate this crisis together.

Watch Conversation Recording >>


Self-Care Strategies for Adjusting to a New Normal

Ken Druck, Ph.D., Resilience Expert, founder of Jenna Druck Center
Dr. Bruce Sachs, Clinician, Jewish Family Service
Rabbi Yael Ridbeg, Congregation Dor Hadash

Moderator: Michael Hopkins, CEO of Jewish Family Service

This program, moderated by Michael Hopkins, CEO of Jewish Family Service, and featuring panelists Ken Druck, Ph.D., Rabbi Yael Ridberg, and Dr. Bruce Sachs, will focus on how to meet these challenges by upgrading, innovating and putting our self-care and caregiving skills and abilities to work.

Watch Conversation Recording >>