About Us

For over 60 years JFS has been committed to supporting and strengthening family life.  The agency began as a refugee resettlement service and has evolved into a comprehensive social service and mental health agency providing services to individuals and families in need regardless of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. Part of a network of 12 family service agencies covering  New Jersey,  JFS is positioned to access resources and extend services statewide.

Services include community-based geriatric services, family counseling, crisis intervention, case management, child-centered mental health services, school consultations and domestic violence services, including but not limited to:

  • Initial Consultation to Determine Needs
  • Individual, Family, Marital, Group and Play Therapy 
  • Workshops and Discussion Groups on Topics of Concern
  • Information and Referral
  • Services for Special Populations – older adults, victims of domestic violence, children with special needs, holocaust survivors
  • Casework,  Crisis Intervention, and Home Visits
  • Vocational Counseling
  • Food Pantry
  • Speakers Bureau – Community presentations available on a wide range of topics

Meet Our Staff

Esther East, Executive Director

Esther brings over 40 years of mental health and program development experience to the daily management of Jewish Family Service & Children’s Center. She has specialized training in addictions, mental illness, family violence and contextual family therapy. She feels blessed to have the opportunity to work with gifted and dedicated staff, as well as with an outstanding board of directors to serve our dynamic and diverse community.  Trained at Barnard College, Columbia University, and Wurzweiler School of Social Work, she participates in the Governor’s Task Force on Prevention of Child Abuse and serves on the board of the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence, the Children’s Interagency Coordinating Council of Passaic County and the St. Mary’s Community Health Board. Esther also completed the Suicide Bereavement Clinician Training Program (SBCTC), a program that trains clinicians in grief therapy for those bereaved by suicide. 

Dr. Mary Askew

Dr. Mary Askew is a graduate of Columbia University where she earned her doctorate in Nursing Practice after earning her Masters of Science with a specialty in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing from the same university. At JFS, she provides psychiatric evaluations and medication management for children to adults. Dr. Askew is also a part of organizations and societies including the Society of Psychiatric Advanced Practice Nurses; American Psychiatric Nurses Association; New Jersey State Nurses Association; and National Alliance of the Mentally Ill.

Priya Bacchus Sookbir, LCSW


Priya Bacchus graduated with her Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University. She is skilled in a broad range of therapeutic modalities including Cognitive Behavioral (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral (DBT), Psycho-dynamic therapies, Family therapy, and mindfulness-based strategies. Priya has many years of trauma and crisis intervention experience with individuals exposed to domestic violence and sexual violence. She has worked with a large variety of populations including children, adolescents, adults, and families.


Lyndsay Blashka, LSW


Lyndsay Blashka graduated from Wurzweiler School of Social Work in 2011. While in school, Lyndsay interned at the National Jewish Council of Disabilities, and, after graduating, she worked at SteppingStone Day School in Flushing, NY, a private preschool for children with developmental disabilities. Currently, Lyndsay runs the “Working It Out” program, a pre-vocational training program for emerging adults with special needs. She also directs the JFS Food Pantry and is the Volunteer Coordinator.


Shaina Bodenheim, LSW


Shaina Bodenheim graduated from NYU’s School of Social Work, where she concentrated her training around issues pertaining to the geriatric population. Before joining JFS as the on-site coordinator of the Club SEQUOIA, Mrs. Bodenheim worked for the Manhattan branch of Self Help Community Services Nazi Victims’ Program, a Claims Conference funded program whose objective is to assist Holocaust Survivors in securing European reparations and other grants that cover medical expenses. During her time there, Mrs. Bodenheim completed training in the areas of dementia and cognitive impairments. As part of a team of case managers, she also planned and oversaw regular social gatherings and events for seniors. She brings to Sequoia this valuable experience, as well as her love of working with older adults.

Tova Brody, LCSW


Tova Brody is a graduate of the Rutgers University School of Social Work. As an intake assistant, Tova is one of the first professionals to interact with incoming clients, partnering with them to help find their best therapeutic match. Tova has experience working individually with children, adolescents, adults, and families. She treats clients coping with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-esteem issues, trauma, and family challenges. Her background includes training in a broad range of therapeutic modalities, including CBT, DBT, play, narrative, and psychodynamic therapies. Tova also participates in Project S.A.R.A.H. and the Magen Yeladim (Aleinu) Safety Kid program, speaking to a variety of audiences on topics such as domestic violence, child safety, and healthy relationships. She also completed the Suicide Bereavement Clinician Training Program (SBCTC), a program that trains clinicians in grief therapy for those bereaved by suicide. Tova brings warmth and compassion to her work with clients. Her empathetic approach empowers clients to build emotional resilience and meet their individual needs.

Daisy Carrera, LSW

Daisy Carrera, LSW

Daisy Carrera completed her undergrad at NJCU and received her Masters at Columbia University with a concentration in children, family and youth. As a bilingual therapist, Daisy is fluent in Spanish and English, and has experience working with children and families of domestic violence in the Peace: A Learned Solution program (PALS). Daisy also provides individual and family counseling, specifically for children from divorced homes. A facilitator of the social skills group at JFS, Daisy helps children with behavioral issues to improve their social skills.

Abbie Cohen

Director Eric Eliezer Center for Hope and Project Chizuk

Abbie has been working with Project Chizuk since its inception in 2008. Project Chizuk is a community program with Jewish Family Service that arose in response to an increase in unemployment in the community due to the severe economic situation. In 1999, Abbie began the Vocational Department at Jewish Family Services and later became the Director of Vocational Service for YACHAD and the National Jewish Counsel for Disabilities. Abbie has held previous positions as an Employment Specialist at Northampton Community College, Program Coordinator at 70001, and a Personnel Employee at Maimonides Medical Center. Abbie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and has also been trained in employment counseling, interviewing skills, and job placement by the New York State Employment Agency.

Nancy Cohen, MSW


Nancy is a graduate of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University, where she earned her Master’s degree in social work. She brings over 20 years of Case Management experience in a wide variety of settings. Nancy has a background in medical social work, as well as extensive experience in medical insurance and hospital discharge planning. As a certified SHIP counselor, Nancy works closely with the Passaic County Board of Social Services. She works with clients who are in crisis, and assists them with applying for government and community resources. Responsible with supervising the Support Coordinators at JFS, Nancy ensures the delivery of supports and services to the intellectual and developmentally disabled population that are enrolled with the Division of Developmental Disabilities. Nancy has led several workshops for individuals with chronic medical or mental health conditions, and participates in ongoing meetings with government and community agencies throughout New Jersey.​

Tamar Danzger, LCSW


Tamar graduated from New York University with her masters in Social Work. Tamar has experience with individual and family therapy and is skilled in therapy for both children and adults. Tamar likes to use therapy techniques that are eclectic, drawing on cognitive behavioral, dialectical, narrative, psychodynamic, positive and humanistic psychology and more. Tamar has lived in several countries and cultures, and she is fluent in English, Hebrew and Russian.

Kristyna Escobar, LSW


Kristyna Escobar received her B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University and then went on to obtain her Master’s Degree from the Rutgers School of Social Work. As a bilingual clinician, Kristyna is able to work with both English and Spanish speaking clients and their families. She has experience working in outpatient mental health services with individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and a history of trauma. More specifically, she worked in a partial care program where she facilitated daily intense group therapy to children with severe behavioral and emotional disturbances. She is currently providing individual and family therapy to children, teens, and adults for JFS and PALS, which is for survivors of domestic violence. Kristyna brings a warm and supportive approach in working with all of her clients.

Toni Freni, MS, BC-DTR


Toni Freni, MS, BC-DTR, is a masters level, Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist and Psychotherapist with 30 years of professional experience. She is a graduate of Hunter College of the City University of New York and has worked extensively in both inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities and hospitals. For 11 years, Toni worked in a Pediatric Oncology/Hematology Psychosocial Program, providing Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy services. Toni joined PALS (Domestic Violence Program) in JFS as a therapist in 2008, where she works with all age groups to provide family, group and individual therapy. She has additional training in mind/body approaches, stress reduction, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques. Her experience includes work with children with special needs and children with a history of trauma.

Tali Friedman, LSW


Tali graduated from Yeshiva University Stern College for Women with a B.A. in Psychology and received a Masters in Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work. Tali has experience working with children, adolescents, and older adults facilitating group sessions, counseling individuals, and performing case management. At JFS, Tali works in the intake department and is often the first connection with clients, working to ensure that each client meets the therapist most suited to address their needs. She also works with adults with Developmental Disabilities as a Support Coordinator, facilitating services through the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities.

Rochelle Glatter, LCSW

Rochelle graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University and also holds a Master’s Degree in General Theoretical Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from New York University. Rochelle has extensive experience working with adolescents, adults, families and couples.

Rochelle incorporates psychodynamic and cognitive approaches while collaborating with clients to best serve their needs. Rochelle’s compassionate manner and commitment skillfully assists clients in meeting their treatment goals.

Rochelle has completed several training programs, including:
Two years post-graduate training in relational counseling at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, 2017
Emotionally Focused Therapy Training Externship Program, June 2015
40 Hour Rachel Coalition Domestic Violence Training Program, June 2014

Gali Goodman, LCSW
Gali earned a double Masters degree from Columbia University School of Social Work and a Masters in Special and General Education from Bankstreet. She has worked in schools, inpatient and day treatment programs treating children, families, adults and couples. Through her education, Gali has trained in evidence-based treatments such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Collaborative Problem-Solving, and Motivational Interviewing.  She also utilizes family systems and psychodynamic principles in her integrative care of clients.
Through Gali’s experiences as a teacher and therapist, Gali has comprehensive understanding of the family system’s complexities. Gali’s clinical interests are in helping families and adults with anxiety, depression and trauma. She believes that effective therapy involves learning more adaptive and effective ways of dealing with stressors while also building on existing strengths to create positive change.
Rachael Gottesman, LSW
Rachael graduated with her MSW from Silberman School of Social work at Hunter College in 2017. Working with both children and families, Rachael has experience in couples counseling as well as individual counseling. Rachael’s calm and accepting approach helps her clients as she partners and collaborates with them as they utilize therapy to improve their lives. She is a certified yoga teacher and is always learning and teaching new tools and techniques to help reduce stress levels of her clients.
Cara Harmon, LSW


Cara graduated with her master’s degree from Rutgers University School of Social Work, where she received the Dean’s Recognition Award for Outstanding Student in Clinical Social Work. Cara brings a compassionate, trauma-informed approach to every session, aiming to create an environment where clients feel safe to explore areas of vulnerability, set concrete goals, and collaborate toward addressing those goals. She has years of experience counseling expectant and new parents during pregnancy and the postpartum period. A Project S.A.R.A.H. team member and presenter, Cara has worked extensively with those affected by domestic violence and other forms of trauma. She also created and facilitated an eight-week memoir-writing group for Club SEQUOIA, JFS’s wellness center for active seniors. Cara completed the Suicide Bereavement Clinician Training Program (SBCTC), a program that trains clinicians in grief therapy for those bereaved by suicide.

Martha Hay, LSW

Martha has a Master’s Degree from Rutgers University, where she focused her training on children and families. She has extensive experience working with parents of children with special needs and survivors of domestic violence. In addition, she has worked in the special education system of many public schools, providing therapeutic services for autistic children. Her excellent work was formally recognized by the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders and Advisory Council on Disability when she received the Champions of Disabilities Award in 2014. At JFS, Martha provides individual and family therapy/counseling, utilizing an eclectic treatment approach. Martha also provides individual and family therapy, and child centered and directive play therapy for PALS (Domestic Violence Program). Martha often participates in administrative and clinical meetings to discuss cases, develop intervention plans for clients and conduct intakes and assessments.

Shani Hochstadter, LPC


Shani Hochstadter  graduated from the Touro Graduate School Mental Health counseling program with a masters degree in Mental Health Counseling. She currently holds a license in NJ. Shani has experience working with individuals, couples, and families. She has training in a variety of approaches including CBT, DBT, The Nurtured Heart Approach, and other Psychodynamic approaches and theories. She is also a certified Nurtured Heart trainer. Shani uses empathy and warmth to connect with her clients and help them get in touch with themselves to grow and find peace. She uses a client centered approach and works with the client to find the modality or combination of modalities to best help them.

Shani is a Project SARAH team member and specializes in working with victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. She also co-facilitates the women’s support group for project SARAH for women in challenging or abusive relationships. Shani often speaks and gives trainings on behalf of Project SARAH in the community educating, creating awareness, and promoting preventative tactics for domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Batsheva Hofman, LCSW

Batsheva Hofman graduated Summa Cum Laude from Long Island University’s School of Social Work. Batsheva has experience working individually with children, adolescents and adults, as well as with families. She treats clients coping with anxiety, depression, trauma, illness, learning disabilities, self-esteem issues and family challenges. Batsheva partners with her clients in helping them access their strengths to build emotional resilience and regain life vitality. Her empathic approach empowers clients to work through their challenges. She has training in CBT, DBT, IFS and psychodynamic therapies.

Sarala Katz

Support Coordinator

Sarala has her undergraduate in Psychology from Touro College, and is currently pursuing her MSW at Wurzweiler School of Social Work. As a support coordinator, Sarala works with individuals with disabilities and assists them and their families in receiving services. She also co-leads SibShops, a program for siblings of special needs children. Sarala enjoys working with a range of ages, including the seniors at Club Sequoia, and teaching our social skills program to pre-school students in local schools.

Sari Katz, LSW

Case Manager, Support Coordinator

Sari Katz received her MSW from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and currently holds a NJ social work license. After graduating, she worked in a nursing home and a dialysis center, gaining experience working with the geriatric population and multiple medical settings. Sari is a Case Manager and Support Coordinator at JFS, and provides supportive counseling, psycho-education, and different concrete resources to her clients and their families to meet their various needs. Sari’s goal is that her genuine care for her clients will help them gain self-confidence that will ultimately empower them to make positive changes in their lives in order to succeed.

Anna Kirshblum, LCSW


Anna Kirshblum graduated from Columbia University School of Social Work and has over 35 years of experience in the field. Anna has worked extensively within the Jewish community as a consultant to synagogues, clergy and yeshivot. She has a sub-specialty in end of life and bereavement.

Anna has provided individual and group therapy as well as communal programming. As a senior therapist she supervises students and other staff members. She has spoken at professional conferences and continuing education programs.

Anna treats people experiencing anxiety and depression, marital conflict or struggling with the complexities of parenting. She believes that life’s difficulties are best handled when we have a full toolbox of coping mechanisms. Her approach combines insight-oriented counseling with practical advice on how to manage painful or difficult situations.

Shifra Lamm, LSW


Shifra graduated with a Masters degree in social work from Wurzweiler School of Social Work. She has experience working with children, adolescents and adults suffering from anxiety, depression and learning disabilities. Shifra uses both art and play therapy in her work with children and has led social skills classes as well. Shifra is a Project S.A.R.A.H. team member and specializes in working with victims of domestic violence. She also gives trainings on behalf of Project S.A.R.A.H. in the community – educating, creating awareness, and promoting preventative tactics for domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Zipora Levi, LSW

Zipora Levi graduated from Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University where she earned a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in geriatrics. As a Support Coordinator for DDD and Case Manager, Zipora is dedicated to her clients and strives to help connect them to concrete services within the community. She works with adults and children using a varied approach to help those suffering from anxiety, depression, social skills and relationships. Zipora recently completed the Suicide Bereavement Clinician Training Program (SBCTC), a program that trains clinicians in grief therapy for those bereaved by suicide.

Jen McLean, MS, LAC, NCC


Jen graduated with an MS in Mental Health Counseling, with an emphasis on addiction treatment and prevention. She has experience working with children, adolescents and families, and help clients deal with anxiety, depression and family challenges. Using interpersonal CBT and other evidence-based treatments, Jen adds compassion and warmth to help empower her clients to foster change in a positive way.

Suzanne Miller, LCSW


Mrs. Miller graduated from Simmons College in 1966 with a Master’s degree in Social Work and she brings almost 50 years of experience with families and children to her clients.  She has expertise in working within the educational system and has done extensive advocacy and counseling for families in the special education area. A gifted supervisor, with training in many treatment modalities, Mrs. Miller also coordinates the special needs advisory committee.

Yehuda Morrison, MS, LAC


In 2016, Yehuda graduated Summa Cum Laude from Touro College with a Bachelors in Psychology. He then graduated from the Touro College Graduate School of Mental Health Counseling with an MS in Mental Health Counseling. Yehuda has worked with adolescents and adults in an intensive outpatient facility focusing on addictions, anxiety, depression, trauma, psychosis, and personality disorders.

Yehuda is eclectic in his approach. In his undergraduate studies, he was introduced to the Existential approach to psychotherapy, which focuses on concepts that are universally applicable to the human existence including death, freedom, responsibility, and the meaning of life. Yet, instead of regarding human experiences such as anxiety and depression as suggesting the existence of mental illness, existential psychotherapy sees these experiences as natural stages in a normal process of human development and maturation.

Yehuda utilizes a blend of DBT, REBT, ACT, Mindfulness, and Motivational Interviewing techniques tailored to each individual client. Along with a nonjudgmental/humanistic approach, he facilitates a safe therapeutic space to build a positive connection.

He is a member of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology as well as the American Counseling Association.

Rachel Pollack, LCSW


​Rachel graduated from Columbia University School of Social Work, where she focused her studies on the elderly population. She has since worked in hospice, as well as with individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. She brings additional experience as a life coach to JFS, where she specializes in the elderly population and those living with chronic illness, as well as those with depression and anxiety. Rachel also completed the Suicide Bereavement Clinician Training Program (SBCTC), a program that trains clinicians in grief therapy for those bereaved by suicide. Rachel enjoys working in such a caring and collaborative environment that allows her to help foster change on a daily basis.

Shira Pomrantz, LCSW

Director, Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Services

Shira Pomrantz is a graduate of the Rutgers University School of Social Work. She has extensive training in the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model which is an empowering and nonjudgmental approach of psychotherapy. She is experienced in working with children, adolescents, and adults in the context of both family and individual sessions.  As a family therapist for PALS (Domestic Violence Program), Shira helps youth and their families recover from past traumatic experiences and build healthier family relationships. She co-created and coordinates the M&M Social Skills and Bullying Prevention school programs, which were developed to address religious and cultural sensitivities. Shira also serves as an educator for Project S.A.R.A.H., speaking to a variety of audiences on topics such as domestic violence, healthy relationships, and child safety. Fluent in Spanish and English,  Shira adds the warmth, creativity, and emotional sensitivity required to help address her clients’ social, emotional, and behavioral needs.

Anne Marie Ramos, LCSW

Anne Marie Ramos has worked for over 35 years as a clinical social worker and supervisor for families and children. As a Registered Play Therapist – Supervisor, Anne Marie uses her extensive background to provide a skills training class on the use of play therapy in a family setting with children and adolescents. Through her work in mental health and other community settings, as well as current research, Anne Marie found that incorporating caregivers in a dynamic way in treatment sessions improved client outcomes and satisfaction. She presents on this topic nationally and is the author of several publications on this subject. At JFS, Anne Marie is the Director of Children’s Services, as well as the Clinical Coordinator of PALS (Domestic Violence Program) for children, which is run in conjunction with the Passaic County Women’s Center.

Yisroel Reich, MS LAC

Rabbi Yisroel Reich graduated with a Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling from Bellevue University after working with at-risk teens for many years in Israel. His warmth and easy-going demeanor help to create a quick rapport with his clients, many of whom struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, or interpersonal challenges. He works with children, adolescents, adults, and families, placing special emphasis on developing strengths and resilience. Rabbi Reich also facilitates a Multiple Family Social Skills group and support group for fathers with children with special needs.
He is a National Certified Counselor by the National Board of Certified Counselors.

Shragi Reiss, MS LPC

Shragie Reiss is a therapist at JFS.

Dr. Harvey Rice, MD


Dr. Rice is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and has completed residencies in child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. He served in the U.S. Public Health Service and was stationed at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. While at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington D.C., he worked on the adult acute care service, the psychiatric emergency room, the Area D Community Mental Health Center. He has served for many years as a psychiatric consultant to Gallaudet University. Additionally, he was the Chief Medical Officer at D.C. General Hospital, as well as the Director of the Consultation Liaison Service and Renal Dialysis and Kidney Transplant Program. Recently, he completed a fellowship in Geriatric Psychiatry at the Beth Israel Hospital, University Hospital and Manhattan Campus for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

At JFS,  Dr. Rice is directing a new program for geriatric psychiatric services . The program’s approach is comprehensive, personalized and evidenced based, with an emphasis on maintaining good health and general well-being for our senior clients.

Pearl Ricklis, LCSW

Pearl earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University in 1973. Before coming to JFS, Pearl worked as the Director of Social Services at the Geriatric Center of Workmen’s Circle in Elizabeth, NJ.

At JFS, Pearl counsels on marital issues, domestic violence and parental guidance on both group and individual bases. She sees clients with depression, anxiety, phobias and other challenges. Pearl acts as a supervisor to the social work interns, administers the Holocaust survivor grant and coordinates the Klara Markowitz Kosher Meals on Wheels program. In the past, Pearl has run the bereavement support group and the support group for children caring for elderly parents.

Pearl enjoys working at JFS because she feels this is a place where miracles happen. The environment at JFS is molded by the intelligent, caring and capable therapists and Pearl loves the support of her fellow co-workers as they all work towards the common goal of helping their clients attain their goals.

Pearl wants to help her clients achieve their goals and function well in their lives. She is exhilarated by the progress she sees in her clients and is touched by the transformations she is privileged to witness. She finds that every day is meaningful and she feels fortunate that her dreams of having a meaningful career turned into her reality.


Thalia Sanchez, LAC

Thalia Sanchez received her B.A. in Psychology at Rutgers University and obtained her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Felician University. She is currently continuing her education and pursuing her Doctorate in Counseling Psychology at Felician. She is bilingual, fluent in Spanish and English. Thalia has experience working with children and families of domestic violence in the Peace is A Learned Solution program (PALS). Thalia also provides individual counseling using an eclectic treatment approach for children and adults, including but not limited to, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Child-Centered Play Therapy, and Mindfulness. She is also a Support Coordinator for the Division of Development Disabilities assisting individuals with disabilities to access services as well as providing a warm and supportive process for their families.

Peter Schessler, LCSW


Peter Schessler is an experienced therapist, with over thirty–five years of practice in Jewish communal service agencies. He is trained in the understanding of personality development as well as the dynamics of marital and relationship interactions. Peter has had many years of providing clinical supervision for students and professional staff. In addition he has been responsible for conducting in-service training seminars within agency based practice. As component of his fifteen year private practice in Bloomfield, Peter was a clinical consultant for a hospital based mental health department and a free standing mental health agency.

Carmit Schmutter, MSW


Carmit_114Carmit graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. from Yeshiva University in 1994 and Summa Cum Laude with an MSW from Wurzweiler School of Social Work in 2000. Carmit brings over 13 years of experience in crisis intervention with families and children. She has worked with a large variety of populations including geriatrics, minorities and inpatient psychiatric clients and she has done extensive support work and advocacy on behalf of many local families. In addition to supervising the Somaich Achim Community Case Management Program, Carmit handles her own caseload of clients, works as a certified presenter for the Aleinu Child Safety Program and participates in other Project S.A.R.A.H. awareness programs. Carmit has served on several JFS committees and is instrumental in coordinating events, obtaining grants for clients and fundraising for the agency.

Rebecca Schochet, LSW


Rebecca comes to us with over a decade of experience in the helping profession. Immediately prior to her arrival at JFS, Rebecca served with distinction at Alaris Health at Rochelle Park, where she assisted residents and liasoned on their behalf with the medical and support staff. She has extensive experience in the Medicare and Medicaid programs (including Social Security benefits). Upon graduation from Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University in 2004, Rebecca worked at Mount Sinai Hospital in Queens as a discharge Social Worker, ensuring the safe re-acclimation to the community for patients. In both positions, Rebecca was awarded “Employee of the Month.”

At JFS, Rebecca serves on our case management team as well as serving as a Support Coordinator for the Division of Development Disabilities assisting individuals with disabilities to access services as well as providing a warm and supportive process for their families.

Rabbi Dovid Selengut, LCSW


A graduate of Touro College School of Social Work, Rabbi Selengut has extensive experience in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), supportive therapy and play therapy. Rabbi Selengut joined the JFS team after two decades working as an educator and dean of students in Jewish education. He has experience working with children and adults struggling with depression, anxiety, social issues, OCD, ADHD, anger management and relationship/marriage issues to help meet their treatment goal.

Jill Simkhayev, LMSW


Jill graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor’s of Social Work and from the University of Maryland with her Master’s of Social Work. She currently holds a New Jersey Social Work License. Jill has experience working with children, adolescents and adults in both formal and informal settings. Jill has worked extensively with survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence, depression and anxiety. She uses a strength-based and client-centered approach, ensuring her clients are always involved in the decision making process.

Shmuel Skaist, MS, LAC, NCC


Rabbi Shmuel Skaist is a clinician who uses a variety of modalities informed and inspired by Psychodynamic theory, Attachment theory, and Insight Meditation. He works with individuals (adults, teens, and children), families and couples, struggling with anxiety, depression, abuse, trauma, compulsive behaviors, and identity and relationship issues. At the heart of Rabbi Skaist’s practice is a commitment to providing a safe, non-judgmental space where clients feel able to explore their difficulties in-depth and work through issues that they haven’t been able to resolve in other past and present relationships.

Rabbi Skaist, a National Certified Counselor, has over 30 years of experience in the field providing counseling to hundreds of talmidim (students) and their families. Earning his MS in Clinical Counseling from Bellevue University has added significant clinical depth to Rabbi Skaist’s well-honed counseling skills. His interest in and knowledge of Jewish history, popular culture, hashkafah (theology), and English literature, lend depth and breadth to his work. In addition to his work as a therapist, Rabbi Skaist is well known as a talented lecturer, musician, and Kiruv (Jewish outreach) personality.

Elke Stein, LCSW

Clinical Coordinator, Services to Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Abuse, and Trauma

Elke obtained her Master’s degree in Social Work from Wurzweiler School of Social Work of Yeshiva University in 1999. She brings years of experience in the field of family violence to JFS. Elke has been the director of Project S.A.R.A.H. (Stop Abusive Relationships At Home) since 2000 and has facilitated the growth of the program to a statewide, federally funded national model for serving underserved populations. She is a recipient of the Wynona M. Lipman Empowerment Award for her work with abused women. She has been trained as a forensic examiner in Child First/Finding Words. Elke has additional training in family therapy, CBT, DBT, trauma focused therapy, and marital therapy. Elke recently completed the Suicide Bereavement Clinician Training Program (SBCTC), a program that trains clinicians in grief therapy for those bereaved by suicide. 

Rivka Leah Weldler, LSW


Rivka Leah Weldler is a graduate of Wurzweiler School of Social Work, where she received her Masters in Social Work. Using a combination of evidence-based treatments including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Internal Family Systems (IFS), Motivational Interviewing, Psychodynamic Therapies and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Rivka Leah brings warmth, compassion, and a sense of humor to every session. Rivka Leah partners with her clients in accessing their individual strengths and uses an eclectic approach tailored to the unique needs of each client to build emotional resilience.


  • Child, adolescent, and adult therapy
  • Individual and family therapy
  • Specialty: Anxiety, depression, self esteem and relationship challenges
Paige Weintraub, LSW


Paige graduated from Stern YU with BA in development psychology in 2016, and received her MSW from Kean University in 2018. She has experience working with adolescents, adults and hospital patients. Paige enjoys working with adolescents and children, helping them navigate school and personal relationships. She is trained in The Nurtured Heart Approach, and uses a variety of therapeutic modalities including CBT, mindfulness and a strengths-based approach. Paige is involved with Project S.A.R.A.H. and coordinates many school trainings including the Child Safety Program for young children, and the Internet Safety Program for middle school students.

Sharon Zwickler, LCSW


Sharon Zwickler is a graduate of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work of Yeshiva University, where she earned her Master’s degree in Social Work. As the Intake Coordinator at JFS, Sharon is the first connection that clients make when they seek help and she works extensively to ensure that each client meets with the therapist most well-suited to address their needs. Sharon also serves as a clinician on staff at JFS, seeing clients in a therapeutic setting. Sharon is trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) which deals with couples through an emotional lens with marital issues. Collectively, Sharon has more than 20 years of experience working with nonprofit institutions and finds her role at JFS to be both personally and professionally rewarding.

Additional Office Staff


Marisol Alvarez: Ext. 133


Maureen Gaccione: Ext. 138


Robyn Reiken, Ext. 132


Alice Kayzerman: Ext. 156


Mark Ricklis: Ext. 148

Board of Directors

Yaacov Brisman

Aaron Foxbruner

Sara Ginsberg

Rabbi Yaakov Glasser

David Goder

Joan Gottlieb

Alan Gutmann

Yael Kroll

Leon Lichter

Francesca Liechenstein, Board President

Hindy Lifshitz

Moshe Luchins

Tova Nechamkin

Daniel Peikes

Paula Peikes

Patrica Szriftgiser


Rabbinic Advisors

Rabbi Aaron Cohen

Rabbi Solomon Rybak