Clinical staff are all masters level therapists, trained in evidence based therapies, working from a trauma informed lens and supervised in the delivery of the highest quality, confidential services.

Esther East

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.

Desiree Acosta

Intern

Desiree Acosta has a B.A. in Psychology and is in her last year at Montclair State University, working towards her Masters in Social Work with a concentration in children, youth, and families. Desiree interned at the Bergen County Housing Health and Human Services Center, where she gained experience in case management, crisis intervention, and facilitated a CBT group focusing on self-esteem. She volunteered for P-I-T (Point in Time), offering shelter to homeless individuals found under bridges and in colleges on the coldest night in January.

  • Children and adolescents
  • Adults
  • Fluent in English and Spanish
Dr. Mary Askew

Dr. Mary Askew

Psychiatrics

Dr. Mary Askew is a graduate of Columbia University, where she earned her Masters of Science with a specialty in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, followed by her doctorate in Nursing Practice. 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.

Specialty: psychiatric evaluations and medication management

Priya Bacchus Sookbir, LCSW

Priya Bacchus Sookbir, LCSW

Clinician

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.

  • Child, adolescent, and adult therapy
  • Individual and family therapy
  • Specialty: trauma, crisis intervention, domestic violence, sexual violence
Ruthie Bashan, MA-AT, LSW

Ruthie Bashan, MA-AT, LSW

Clinician

Ruthie Bashan, MA-AT, LSW, has her Masters degree from Montclair State University School of Social Work and a Masters in Art Therapy from New York University. She is also a certified parenting counselor for parents of children with ADHD, ODD, and sensory issues. Ruthie has experience working with individuals of all ages in a variety of settings, including rehabilitation centers, schools, and hospitals. She specializes in the treatment of those struggling with anxiety, depression, adjustment, divorce, grief, family dynamics, special needs, sexual violence and domestic abuse. Ruthie believes that all individuals possess innate strengths and skills to foster happy and healthy lives. Her approach toward therapy is open, collaborative, and eclectic, and she is committed to helping others explore and reach their goals. She has a deep respect and understanding of the barriers individuals may face as they attempt to transform and improve their lives.

Lyndsay Blashka, LSW

Lyndsay Blashka, LSW

Volunteer Coordinator

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 Jewish Family Service Food Pantry and is the Volunteer Coordinator.

Shaina Bodenheim, LSW

Shaina Bodenheim, LSW

On-site Coordinator, Club Sequoia

Shaina Bodenheim graduated from NYU’s School of Social Work, with a concentration on issues pertaining to the geriatric population. Before joining Jewish Family Service as the on-site coordinator of the Club SEQUOIA, Mrs. Bodenheim completed training in the areas of dementia and cognitive impairment, with experience coordinating regular social gatherings and events for seniors.

Tova Brody, LCSW

Tova Brody, LCSW

Director of Clinical Operations

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. 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, as she helps clients build emotional resilience and meet their individual needs.

Daisy Carrera, LSW

Daisy Carrera, LSW

Clinician

Daisy Carrera completed her undergraduate degree at NJCU and received her Masters at Columbia University with a concentration in children, family and youth.

  • Individual and family counseling
  • Specialty: domestic violence, divorce
  • Social Skills Group, facilitator
  • PALS team member
  • Fluent in English and Spanish
Abbie Cohen

Abbie Cohen

Project Director, Eric Eliezer Center for Hope, Project Chizuk

Abbie has been working to relieve unemployment through Project Chizuk since its inception in 2008. In 1999, Abbie founded 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.

Nancy Cohen, MSW

Nancy Cohen, MSW

Case Manager, DDD Support Coordinator Supervisor

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 Danzger, LCSW

Clinician

Tamar graduated from New York University with her Masters in Social Work.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.

  • Individual and family therapy
  • Child and adult therapy
Menashe East

Menashe East

Therapist

Menashe attended Yeshiva University and Yeshivat Shalavim in Israel for his undergraduate studies, and receive his MSW from Wurzweiler School of Social Work and Smicha fromYeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School. Menashe currently works as the Rabbi of the Mount Freedom Jewish Center and has extensive experience in family therapy, grief and bereavement, spiritual crises, and marital counseling.

Kayla Erenthal

Intern

Kayla Erenthal is a counseling intern, completing her M.S. in Mental Health Clinical Counseling from Bellevue University. Kayla received her B.A. in Psychology from Thomas Edison University and is also a Certified Professional Coach. Kayla warmly embraces the approach that is unique to each client and brings a dedicated, compassionate energy to every session, creating an honest space for vulnerability and healing. Kayla uses a variety of modalities with a client-centered approach, including inner child work, schema therapy, emotional mindfulness, and experiential methods. Kayla enjoys working with women.

· Teen and adult therapy
· Individual and group therapy
· Fluent in English and Yiddish

Kristyna Escobar, LSW

Kristyna Escobar, LSW

Clinician

Kristyna Escobar received her B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University and then went on to obtain her Master’s Degree from Rutgers School of Social Work. Previously, Kristyna worked in a partial care program where she facilitated daily intense group therapy to children with severe behavioral and emotional disturbances. Kristyna brings a warm and supportive approach in working with all of her clients.

  • Experience: anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, trauma
  • Individual and family therapy
  • Child, teen, and adult therapy
  • PALS Program (survivors of domestic violence)
  • Fluent in English and Spanish
Donna Fredrickson, M.A., ATR-BC

Donna Fredrickson, M.A., ATR-BC

Therapist

Donna earned her Masters Degree in Clinical Art Therapy and is Board Certified.

  • Individual, family, and group therapy
  • Experience: trauma, social skills, behavioral issues, eating disorders, and self-esteem issues
  • PALS Program (survivors of domestic violence)
Toni Freni, MS, BC-DTR

Toni Freni, MS, BC-DTR

Clinician

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. She has additional training in mind/body approaches, stress reduction, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques.

  • Child, teen, and adult therapy
  • Individual, family, and group therapy
  • Special needs children
  • Experience: trauma and special needs children
  • PALS Program
Tali Friedman, LSW

Tali Friedman, LSW

Support Coordinator

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.
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.

  • Children, adolescents, and older adults
  • Individual and group sessions
  • Case management
  • Specialty: Developmental Disabilities Support Coordinator
  • Facilitating services through the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities.

Chaim Goldstein

Intern

Chaim Goldstein is currently pursuing his MSW at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Chaim’s trademark patience and calm demeanor, coupled with his non-judgmental approach are assets that contribute to his success with his clients, and help them feel comfortable and accepted. Chaim works closely with children and adolescents, with the primary goal of empowering and enabling them to lead successful and satisfying lives.

Gali Goodman, LCSW

Gali Goodman, LCSW

Clinician

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.

  • Adults
  • Individual and family therapy
  • Specialty: Anxiety, depression, and trauma

Yehudis Gottesman

Intern

Yehudis is currently a student at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work. She taught for 12 years at girls’ schools in New York and Israel and enjoys working with children of all ages, including emerging adults. Yehudis is excited to be an intern at JFS and is looking forward to collaborating with clients to build strength and hope.

Rachael Gottesman, LSW

Rachael Gottesman, LSW

Clinician

Rachael earned her MSW from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in 2017. Rachael’s calm and accepting approach helps her clients as she collaborates with them 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.

  • Children and adults
  • Individual, couples, and family therapy
Rochelle Glatter, LCSW

Rochelle Glatter, LCSW

Clinician

Rochelle earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University, a Master’s Degree in General Theoretical Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University, as well as a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from New York University. 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 post-graduate training in relational counseling at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, Emotionally Focused Therapy Training Externship Program, June 2015
40 Hour Rachel Coalition Domestic Violence Training Program, June 2014

  • Adolescents and adults
  • Individuals, families and couples
Cara Harmon, LSW

Cara Harmon, LSW

Clinician

Cara earned 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.

  • Specialty: Expectant and new parents, postpartum counseling, domestic violence, trauma, grief therapy
  • Project S.A.R.A.H. member
  • Club SEQUOIA facilitator
Martha Hay, LSW

Martha Hay, LSW

Clinician

Martha earned her master’s degree from Rutgers University, where she focused her training on children and families.  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. 

  • Individual and family therapy
  • Play therapy for PALS (Domestic Violence Program)
  • Specialty: Children with specials needs, survivors of domestic violence

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, LPC

Clinician

Shani Hochstadter earned her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Touro Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. She currently holds a license in NJ and is a certified Nurtured Heart trainer. She has training in a variety of approaches including CBT, DBT, The Nurtured Heart Approach, and other psychodynamic approaches and theories. 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. On behalf of Project Sarah, Shani presents workshops creating awareness and promoting preventative tactics for domestic violence and sexual abuse.

  • Individual, couples, and family therapy
  • Project SARAH team member
  • Co-facilitates support group for women in challenging or abusive relationships
  • Specialty: victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse
Batsheva Hofman, LCSW

Batsheva Hofman, LCSW

Clinician

Batsheva Hofman graduated Summa Cum Laude from Long Island University’s School of Social Work. 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.

  • Individual and family therapy
  • Child, adolescent, and adult
  • Specialty: anxiety, depression, trauma, illness, learning disabilities, self-esteem issues and family challenges
Sari Katz, LSW

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, LCSW

Clinician

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 subspecialty 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 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.

Specialty: End of life and bereavement, anxiety, depression, marital conflict, parenting concerns

Max Kirshblum

Clinician

Max Kirshblum received his Master’s degree from Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Max utilizes a psychodynamic approach combined with cognitive behavioral techniques and psycho education to enable clients to develop the skills they need to lead stable and satisfying lives. He has worked with children, adolescents, adults, and families. Max has experience speaking with communities about domestic violence. He is currently a part of the Project S.A.R.A.H team at JFS, focusing on the impact and prevention of domestic violence.

Shifra Lamm, LSW

Shifra Lamm, LSW

Clinician

Shifra graduated with a Masters degree in social work from Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Shifra is a Project S.A.R.A.H. team member and 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.

  • Child, adolescents, and adults
  • Specialty: anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, domestic violence
  • Art and play therapy
  • Social skills classes
  • Project S.A.R.A.H. team member
Zipora Levi, LSW

Zipora Levi, LSW

Clinician, Support Coordinator, Case Manager

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. Zipora recently completed the Suicide Bereavement Clinician Training Program (SBCTC), a program that trains clinicians in grief therapy for those bereaved by suicide.

  • Child and adult therapy
  • Specialty: anxiety, depression, socials skills, relationships, grief therapy, geriatrics
Suzanne Miller, LCSW

Suzanne Miller, LCSW

Director of Special Needs Resource Center, Supervising Clinician

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.

  • Specialty: special needs children
Jen McLean, MS, LAC, NCC

Jen McLean, MS, LAC, NCC

Clinician

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.

Yehuda Morrison, MS, LAC, CASAC-T

Yehuda Morrison, MS, LAC, CASAC-T

Clinician

Yehuda graduated Summa Cum Laude from Touro College with a Bachelors in Psychology. He then graduated from 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.

Natividad Padierna

Intern

Natividad Padierna currently attends Montclair State University, pursuing her Master’s degree in Social Work. She has been working with adults and children in the mental health field since 1987. As an intern at JFS, Natividad is looking forward to working with children and families and helping them deal with trauma.

Rachel Pollack, LCSW

Rachel Pollack, LCSW

Clinician

Rachel graduated from Columbia University School of Social Work, where she focused her studies on the elderly population. 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.

  • Individual and family therapy
  • Specialty: developmental disabilities, geriatrics, chronic illness, hospice, depression, anxiety, grief therapy
Shira Pomrantz, LCSW

Shira Pomrantz, LCSW

Director, Project SARAH

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 co-created and coordinates the M&M Social Skills and Bullying Prevention school programs, which were developed to address religious and cultural sensitivities. Shira’s warmth, creativity, and emotional sensitivity help her address her clients’ social, emotional, and behavioral needs.

  • Individual and family therapy
  • Child, adolescent, and adult therapy
  • Specialty: domestic violence, trauma, social skills, bullying
  • PALS team member
  • Project S.A.R.A.H. member
  • Spanish and English fluency
Anne Marie Ramos, LCSW

Anne Marie Ramos, LCSW

Director of Children’s Services, Registered Play Therapist and Supervisor

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.

  • Child, adolescent, and family therapy
  • Specialty: play therapy
  • Director of Children’s Services
  • PALS Clinical Coordinator
Yisroel Reich, MS LAC

Yisroel Reich, MS LAC

Clinician

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. 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.

  • Child, adolescent, and adult therapy
  • Individual and family therapy
  • Specialty: depression, anxiety, trauma, special needs
Shragi Reiss, MS LPC

Shragi Reiss, MS LPC

Clinician

Shragie Reiss is a therapist at JFS.

Pearl Ricklis, LCSW

Pearl Ricklis, LCSW

Director of Geriatrics, Supervisor of Club Sequoia, Coordinator of Holocaust Survivor Services

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 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 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.

  • Individual and group therapy
  • Specialty: marital issues, domestic violence, depression, anxiety, phobias
Thalia Sanchez, LAC

Thalia Sanchez, LAC

Clinician

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.

  • Child and adult therapy
  • Individual and family therapy
  • Specialty: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Child-Centered Play Therapy, Mindfulness
  • Division of Developmental Disabilities, support coordinator
  • PALS team member
  • Fluent in English and Spanish
Peter Schessler, LCSW

Peter Schessler, LCSW

Supervising Clinician

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 a 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 Schmutter, MSW

Community Case Management Program - Somaich Achim Supervisor

Carmit 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. 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 Jewish Family Service committees and is instrumental in coordinating events, obtaining grants for clients and fundraising for the agency.

  • Children and families
  • Specialty: crisis intervention, geriatrics
  • Aleinu Child Safety Program
  • Project S.A.R.A.H. team member
Rebecca Schochet, LSW

Rebecca Schochet, LSW

Case Manager

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 liaison 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 Developmental Disabilities assisting individuals with disabilities to access services as well as providing a warm and supportive process for their families.

Shmuel Skaist, MS, LAC, NCC

Shmuel Skaist, MS, LAC, NCC

Clinician

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.

Shira Somerstein, LSW

Clinician and Case Manager

Shira is a graduate of the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, where she earned a Masters in Social Work. Shira has experience working with individuals and families in a culturally sensitive and compassionate way. She uses strength-based and eclectic approaches to ensure that each client feels valued, heard, and empowered within sessions. Shira consistently attends trainings, webinars, and workshops to stay current and aware of the ever-evolving therapy methodologies.

Elke Stein, LCSW

Elke Stein, LCSW

Clinical Director, Project SARAH

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.

Paige Weintraub, LSW

Paige Weintraub, LSW

Clinician

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.

Rivka Leah Weldler, LSW

Rivka Leah Weldler, LSW

Clinician

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 and compassion 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
Sharon Zwickler, LCSW

Sharon Zwickler, LCSW

Intake Coordinator, Clinician

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 Jewish Family Service to be both personally and professionally rewarding.

Additional Office Staff

Marisol Alvarez
Accounting

Manny Espinoza
Building Maintenance Supervisor

Maureen Gaccione
Administrative Assistant

Robyn Reiken
Data Management

Mendy Schechter
Director of Development

Deena Schwersenski
Director of Marketing and Communications

Alice Kayzerman
Director of Client Accounts

Mark Ricklis
Director of Operations