Latest News

Stay up to date with JFS. Check this page often for the latest news, Family Matters Newsletter, and annual reports. 


At Jewish Family Service of Tidewater, the health and well being of our clients, staff and community is our top priority. As information about the coronavirus changes hourly, we understand the uncertainty you may be feeling.

Please be assured that JFS is taking action based on the recommendations of the CDC and local health care officials.

JFS remains open but there will be modifications including the number of staff working onsite. In person/office visits have been reduced but we are also offering phone counseling sessions. The staff is prepared to help manage the stress of the current health care situation.

We are facing higher requests for food at this time. The food pantry is trying to keep up with the demands of more people at home who are unable to feed their families. Donations of cereal, pasta, canned fruit and canned proteins would be greatly appreciated. Paper goods or cleaning products would also be helpful. A box has been set up in front of the JCC to receive your donations. We have volunteers in Norfolk and Virginia Beach who can deliver your items if you cannot make it to the JCC.

During this unprecedented and challenging time JFS is only a phone call away.

Ellen Rosenblum, JFS Board President

Portsmouth Meals on Wheels, facing break in service, gets help finding new home

JFS to Provide In-School Social Work Services at Toras Chaim Day School

Jewish Family Service of Tidewater (JFS) will soon be providing in-school counseling/social work services for Toras Chaim Day School. For the past 25 years, JFS has established a solid positive reputation for providing these services to local Hebrew day schools, including Strelitz International Academy (formerly Hebrew Academy of Tidewater and Strelitz Early Childhood Education Center), Bina High School, and the Sarfan Early Childhood Center. JFS had previously provided these services during 2004-2007 at Toras Chaim but had to discontinue when funding was not available.

Rabbi Mordechai Loiterman, Toras Chaim principal, requested that JFS return and create a daily presence in his school; he knew the students and their families needed this service. Rabbi Loiterman said, “Being attentive to our students’ emotional and social needs is becoming more critical in our current society. Students need to be supported to learn important skills that will help them successfully navigate through the emotionally complex world in which they are growing up.”

Debra Mayer, LCSW, JFS Clinical Director said, “We’re so pleased to re-create this important partnership with Toras Chaim and their community of students, families, and staff.”

Emily Bettendorf Riley, MSW, has been hired by JFS to work at Toras Chaim starting in August 2019. She will have an office at the school and will be there for part of each day to meet with students and work closely with their families and teachers. Emily worked at JFS as the special needs case manager from 2010-2013 and has since worked with children and teens in multiple settings (home, school, and hospitals). Emily is excited to take on this new role. She can be reached after September 3 at Toras Chaim at

These services are made possible through generous funding from Toras Chaim.

JFS presents Community Partner Award to United Way

JFS recently recognized the United Way of South Hampton Roads with our Community Partner Award for their outstanding support of JFS. Kelly Burroughs, CEO, and Ellen Rosenblum, board president, visited the United Way’s offices to present the award.

At the JFS Biennial meeting, Jeff Cooper, outgoing board president, said, “The United Way and JFS share many core values – both agencies strive to create opportunities for a better life for the most vulnerable people in our community. Through this partnership, JFS is able to help feed more hungry people, enhance the health care of older adults, reduce social isolation, and improve the mental health and wellness of hundreds of people throughout the region. The United Way seeks to bring people and resources together to ‘solve problems too big for any of us to solve alone.’ JFS is proud to be a United Way Certified Agency.”


Applications for JELF’s interest-free loans for higher education (college, graduate school and vocational programs) are available to Jewish students in the Tidewater area for the 2019-2020 school year, in partnership with Jewish Family Service of Tidewater. JELF (Jewish Educational Loan Fund) grants need-based, “last dollar” financing, meaning that JELF provides the final dollars that bridge the gap between a student’s total financial resources and the cost of attending school.  To qualify, applicants must be:
  • Enrolled full time in a program leading to a degree or certificate at a U.S. accredited institution,
  • A U.S. citizen or have lawful immigration status, and
  • Able to demonstrate financial need (2019 FAFSA application required).
In 2018, JELF granted $1,011,266 in interest-free last-dollar loans to 279 students across its five-state region. JELF is proud to serve students in the Tidewater Jewish community. For more information, visit or email
© 2020 Jewish Family Service of Tidewater