Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Hon. Herb Klein, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Assemblyman Gary Schaer and Passaic Mayor Hector Lora cutting the ribbon. (Credit: JFS Clifton)

Congressman Pascrell speaking at the event. (Credit: JFS Clifton)

Esther East, executive director, giving a tour of the food pantry, with Congressman Pascrell, Passaic Mayor Hector Lita, The Hon. Herb Klein, Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi and longtime supporter Andrew Kanter. (Credit: JFS Clifton)

One of the counseling offices in the building. (Credit: Adam Samuel)

On Sunday, June 24, the Jewish Family Services and Children’s Center of Clifton-Passaic (JFS Clifton), a social services and mental health agency that provides support for children and families in need, held a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony formally opening its new building on Main Avenue in Passaic. The ceremony honored the contributions of Jacqueline and the Honorable Herb Klein, longtime benefactors of the agency, for whom the building was named. Also noted was a major gift from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation that enabled JFS Clifton to realize its dream of bringing all its services under one roof.

JFS Clifton supplies a comprehensive array of services that “address the needs and challenges of this diverse community.” They aid children and families dealing with mental health disorders, special needs, sexual and domestic abuse, poverty, aging and family relationship difficulties. Consisting of nearly 50 licensed therapists who employ the latest evidence-based and trauma-informed therapeutic techniques, JFS Clifton staff look forward to using the new building to extend their care and support to even more people.

“This new building is such a blessing,” Esther East, JFS Clifton executive director, shared in an interview with The Jewish Link. “We believe that everybody, no matter how difficult their life is, should have someone who believes in their capacity to change. Someone who can give them hope that no matter how difficult their situation may be, there’s always a way for things to improve. We want to be there for as many of those people as possible, and this building is going to help us do just that.”

The event attracted over 100 community members, with many elected officials present, including Passaic Mayor Hector Lora, Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi and Congressman Bill Pascrell. Also in attendance was New Jersey Department of Human Services Commissioner Carol Johnson and Assemblyman Gary Schaer, a staunch supporter of JFS Clifton for many years and whose assistance at every turn helped bring the project to fruition.

At the celebratory meal that followed a comprehensive building tour, Fran Liechenstein, JFS CLifton president, began with a reflection about how the organization has adapted to meet the needs of the changing Passaic-Clifton Jewish community, followed by some words from members of the Klein family and Congressman Pascrell. The program concluded after attendees headed outside to the front of the building for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, officially opening the building.

“This facility will allow JFS to strengthen the vital services it has provided to our community for over 50 years,” Congressman Pascrell shared. “The transformation of this building from when I first visited in April is remarkable, and a testament to JFS’ unwavering commitment to community service. I am grateful for the organization’s work and extremely proud that this new facility will be located in the heart of my district.”

For Liechenstein, who has served as JFS Clifton president for nine years, the new building finally opening its doors was the fulfillment of three years of planning and effort.

“Our philosophy here is that if one person in the family has a problem, the whole family shares that problem,” Liechenstein explained. “Everything we do here is intended to make families more resilient so they have an easier day. Anyone who might need our help, our doors are always open for you. Our mission is to serve the community, and we do it with expertise, passion, sensitivity and integrity. We are so grateful for the community’s continuing support.”

To learn more about JFS Clifton, visit their website http://jfsclifton.org/. Additionally, you can reach out to JFS Clifton Executive Director Esther East for more information at [email protected]

By Adam Samuel

Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at adamssoapbox.com.