JFS creates comfort zone

JFS creates comfort zone

Bringing comfort to those affected by loss or emotional trauma takes both patience and creativity. While support groups help some people, others derive greater benefit from individual counseling or from educational programs.

Stacy Lang, director of "The Living Room" — the in-house health and wellness center at Jewish Family Services in Teaneck — says her group brings together a wide range of programs and services for those in need of healing.

Founded as "a place for restoration and healing for those who lost loved ones on Sept. 11," says Lang, "The Living Room" — open to the entire community — offers both traditional services, such as counseling and support groups, and therapeutic wellness activities, such as yoga and Tai Chi.

Living Room

On June 7, The Living Room will add another element to this mix, introducing the "Jewish Healing Network." According to Lang, the initiative will "broaden the services and programming offered by JFS to members of the Jewish community in Bergen County who are experiencing loss, bereavement, or emotional distress [while trying] to foster a sense of community within a Jewish context."

That means "using Jewish texts — prayers, psalms, rabbinic teachings, etc. — to bring comfort and healing to those dealing with difficulties ranging from illness to bereavement," says Lang.

Through the network, several Jewish agencies will offer services and programs throughout the county, "not just at The Living Room," says Lang, adding that programs will be geared toward children, adults, and seniors.

Programs will address "life challenges" as well as health issues. For example, a program dubbed "The Joy Lunch Club," which was scheduled to debut on Thursday, will provide a social dining experience for seniors, to decrease the isolation of those who live alone.

In September, as part of its educational programming, the network will invite author Azriela Jaffe to speak about her book, "What Do You Mean You Can’t Eat in My Home?" It looks at families whose members have different levels of religious observance. The group will also develop programming for interfaith couples and families.-

The teen program, due to begin shortly, will include two major initiatives: a telephone reassurance-for-seniors program ("Adopt-A-Bubbe"), and an effort to teach bar/bat mitzvah students the importance of tzedakah. The network will also engage in volunteer training, says Lang, preparing people to engage in the mitzvah of bikkur cholim, visiting the sick.

The June 7 program, "An Evening of Workshops and Wellness," is co-sponsored by Jewish Family and Vocational Services of Middlesex County. Lang says that the free program will include a mix of informational and hands-on activities.

"Professor Bread," the nom de cuisine of Dr. Gary Gomer, a social worker from JFVS in Edison, "will guide people through the process of bread-making," she says, from grinding the wheat to eating the finished product, and [will] discuss the meaning of food — creating, eating, and sharing."

Also offered will be "chocolate therapy, a discussion of the beneficial aspects of chocolate, with a chocolate-making demonstration and chocolate sampling," says Lang. Additional offerings include yoga, massage, and Jewish meditation, along with art projects for children, teens, adults, and seniors. A light supper will be served.

For reservations, call Laura at (’01) 837-9090. For more information about The Living Room, contact Lang at (’01) 837-9090 or StacyL@jfsbergen.org.-

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