Legacy gift shows gratitude for welcoming of JSS’s senior lunch program

Friends and community have always been important to Ernie Clasen.
Ernie Clasen gets to hang out with some of his closest friends at lunchtime on most Mondays. Nearly every Monday, he drives, (or gets a ride) to Goodman Lechayim Lunchtime Plus, Jewish Social Services’ senior nutrition program, for its amazing food, great programs, and most importantly, for the friends he has found. As a way to support Jewish Social Services and in particular, in support for senior programs and case management, Ernie has recently let JSS know that he will be leaving an estate gift of $250,000 to Jewish Social Services endowment fund.
Ernie started coming to Lechayim about two years ago, prompted by his good friend Dolores Salganick and her daughter. Ernie said, “Then I met Gary Geller. We became friends. We sit at the same table at Lechayim. And when I met Gary’s wife Denny, she told me, ‘You know whatever we are, Jewish, Catholic, whatever, we are all made from the same stuff.’”
Ernie moved to Madison from Germany in 1957 after seeing an ad in a German newspaper for a “pastry man” at Dykman’s Restaurant. He spoke no English, but took a chance. Ernie came by ship to New York City followed by trains to Chicago and finally Madison. He said that when he finally arrived at his hotel on the Square, he only had $3.50. Luckily, Dykman’s Restaurant was only 1 ½ blocks off the square, so he could walk to work.
Ernie’s boss helped to bring over his fiancée, Ruth Fischer and his younger brother. Ernie and Ruthie were married nearly 53 years. The three bought a small bakery on Parmenter Street in Middleton. This business later evolved into a larger bakery and a chocolate company.
Ernie explains why a German Catholic who emigrated to Madison in 1957 would want to leave a legacy for senior programs and services at Jewish Social Services: “the people that I met. First, when I went I thought that I’m Catholic and German. I was worried, but everyone was so nice. And I don’t want the money to run out for the program.” Ernie is leaving the funds in memory of his good friend and neighbor Dolores Salganick.
For more information, please contact Dawn Berney, Jewish Social Services at (608) 442-4081 or dawn@jssmadison.org.

One year later the Jewish Community remembers Mindy Wiseman

By Rabbi Renee Bauer
Sukkot is a time of joy on the Jewish calendar but at Jewish Social Services the holiday is tinged with grief. Last year during Sukkot beloved JSS caseworker, Mindy Wiseman, passed away. Mindy who had a long career serving senior adults never reached her senior years. An aggressive form of cancer ended her life days before her 61st birthday.
JSS’s work of helping seniors live independently and make conscious choices about their end-of-life care honors her memory. Mindy was also an early visionary and strong advocate for JSS having a Jewish community chaplain. Mindy helped with JSS’s successful proposal to the Goodman Foundation for a three-year grant to establish the chaplaincy program. In Mindy’s honor, we hope to continue the chaplaincy program indefinitely.
In addition to her dedication to serving others Mindy was a master gardener. In memory of Mindy, Jim Mackman, executive assistant, has planted a garden in the front of the Max Weinstein Jewish Community Building. All spring and summer the flowers bloomed and the blue butterfly statue reminded us daily of Mindy’s spirit. As the garden begins to wither into the cold days of winter we grieve her loss once again. May Mindy’s memory always be for a blessing and may her family and loved ones be comforted among the mourners in Zion and throughout the world.

Jewish Social Services, Our Core Values

By Dawn Berney, Executive Director

The months of August and September have brought significant turmoil to the United States. Charlottesville. Hurricane Harvey. The end of DACA for many teenagers and young adults in our community. Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Jose.

I feel so fortunate to have Jewish Social Services (JSS) here in Dane County. Our team regularly revisits our core values to ensure that our programs, activities and actions are aligned with these values. It gives me hope for myself as well as for my children. It is important to me to show that we can make the world a better place.

Levy Summer Series – this summer we averaged over 90 registrants per luncheon, bringing together people of all ages who might not have met ever before.

Refugee resettlement – Since December, Jewish Social Services has resettled 30 individuals in Madison who could not safely return to their home countries. In addition, we worked to find housing, employment, and schools for another 12 people. These are individuals who had been resettled as refugees to other parts of the United States but had heard about how Madison truly “welcomes the stranger” and has employment options.

Case management – Our team works with senior adults who need appropriate housing. They help families to apply for food assistance or health insurance. They listen to people who are overwhelmed, and need to figure out their next step.

Chaplaincy – JSS and our community is fortunate to have a chaplain who can visit those who need spiritual or emotional support. She provides programs to our seniors where they live, when they cannot necessarily get out into the community at large.


If you would like to learn more about Jewish Social Services and our core values, or you would like to receive support or provide support, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can be reached at (608)442-4081 or on our website at www.jssmadison.org.

Balancing Gratitude with Impatience in the time of Charlottesville

Like all of you, I was really struck by the events of this weekend in Charlottesville, VA. Madison is a college town, as is Charlottesville. We also have very passionate people who are ready to standup against anti-Semitism, islamophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia while needing to acknowledge that we have all of these within our community. I am glad that I live somewhere that it feels safe to speak out against many forms of bigotry. I know that Madison and Dane County are not perfect, but I hope that I never have to find words to explain to my children about that kind of hatred happening in our community. It was hard enough answering questions when it was 1,000 miles away.

One of my favorite blogs is Nonprofits: Absolutely Fabulous. Yesterday morning the author, Vu Le, wrote about how we somehow need to cultivate an attitude of both gratitude and impatience. Impatience is a great motivator, but it is also makes us angry, frustrated, and exhausted. Gratitude increases mental strength and helps us to sleep better (my personal favorite benefit). We really need to find a balance between the two, the balance of appreciating what we have, but also to use the energy that comes from impatience to push for change.

Typically the JSS team is not out in the streets showing its impatience. We could complain all the time about how difficult it can be for seniors to find affordable, appropriate housing or for immigrant clients without documentation to find medical care. We don’t. We use impatience when we need to advocate for a client who needs something she isn’t already getting. And mostly, our team is out there cultivating gratitude. Sometimes it is gratitude from a case worker at another agency who appreciates the tip we gave about an apartment that our client couldn’t use, but her client can. Sometimes it is the gratitude from a client who emails me “to emphasize that … JSS has an awesome social worker!” It is the knowing that we are doing right by our clients that prevent us from getting stuck in the impatient mode. And it is this gratitude that allows us to continue to help people ensure that they are getting their basic needs met and that they do not feel that they are living in isolation.

We can only do our work of practicing impatience and gratitude with support from the community. We need staff, donors, volunteers, clients, participants, governmental and non-governmental community based organizations all connecting in some capacity with Jewish Social Services. This is how we get our work done.

In the next couple of weeks you will likely receive a letter from Jewish Social Services about our Friends Campaign. It is the one fundraising campaign we do per year for our overall community and helps to pay for our operational costs for all of our programs, including resettlement. Without the Friends Campaign, we could not have Lechayim, case management, chaplaincy or refugee resettlement. We could not provide barrier relief, odd-jobbers, or friendly visitors.

If you have already given to the Friends Campaign, thank you. If you have never given to the Friends Campaign before, but have given to refugee resettlement, please consider supporting this Campaign. JSS needs the help of everyone to ensure that all of our programs will succeed.

National Council on Aging (NCOA) Call-In Day to protect Medicaid on June 14th & Wisconsin Call-In Day June 15th!

From: Janet Zander, Advocacy & Public Policy Coordinator, Greater WI Agency on Aging Resources, Inc.

Despite earlier reports of U.S. Senators having difficulty getting agreement on their plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), our national advocacy partners are telling us the U.S. Senate is now preparing to fast-track their version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell implemented a rule allowing the House-passed AHCA to bypass committee discussion and go directly on to the Senate calendar for a vote once the Senate’s revised version is complete.  The latest reports indicate the Senate bill is nearing completion and will soon be sent to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for evaluation which is expected to take approximately two weeks.  Details of the plan are not expected to be released to the public during this time. The U.S. Senate is hoping to vote on their draft healthcare bill before Congress recesses for the July 4th holiday.


Though specific details of the Senate version of the AHCA are not available, we are hearing the Senate intends to keep 80% of the House plan, including substantial cuts to Medicaid.

The CBO evaluation of the House-passed AHCA indicated the proposal would make massive cuts in Medicaid ($834 billion) and cover 14 million fewer people.  The AHCA shifts Medicaid from a federal/state funding partnership to a per capita or block grant structure with capped payments to states and a 25% cut in funding over 10 years. The President’s FY 2018 budget proposes to cut an additional $610 billion from Medicaid benefits creating a combined cut of over $1.4 trillion (45%) over the next 10 years. The impact of these devastating cuts threatens Medicaid programs in Wisconsin such as SeniorCare, Family Care, and IRIS and could result in changes in eligibility and covered services, cuts in service or the reinstatement of waiting lists and/or reductions in provider rates further harming Wisconsin’s long-term care service providers and the people they support.  For more information see the revised Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network ACA/AHCA Update attached.

Medicaid is the primary payer for long-term services and supports. Approximately two-thirds of Medicaid funding in Wisconsin and nationally is used to provide needed services and supports to low-income older adults and people with disabilities. Contact Senator Tammy Baldwin and Senator Ron Johnson to let them know the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is not good for Wisconsin and ask them to vote NO on the AHCA that cuts Medicaid. 

Below are two options for making calls to Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators. 

1.) The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is offering a toll-free number to connect you with Senators Baldwin and Johnson on Wednesday, June 14th.   See details listed in email  #1 below. 

2.) The Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations is promoting a Wisconsin Call-In Day on Thursday, June 15th. Additional information, phone numbers and a link to Medicaid enrollment data by Wisconsin Congressional district can be found in email #2 below.

Please choose one of these options/dates and make your calls before it is too late!


Email #1:

Senate Republicans are trying to fast-track a health care repeal bill that would devastate Medicaid, which 6.9 million seniors rely on.

Medicaid pays for over 60% of the nation’s long-term care costs, and the bill would result in large cuts to optional home and community-based services that help keep people independent and out of institutions.

Call your Senators on Wednesday, June 14 and tell them to vote NO on Medicaid cuts and caps: 1-866-426-2631.

Last month, the House passed a bill that would cut Medicaid by nearly $800 billion and cap payments to states. The Senate is now looking to keep 80% of the House plan, including the Medicaid provisions.

Protect Medicaid! Join us on Wednesday, June 14. Tell your Senators to vote NO on Medicaid cuts and caps: 1-866-426-2631.
Your voice can make a difference!

 Howard Bedlin, Vice President, Public Policy & Advocacy 
© 2017 National Council on Aging, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited. May not be reproduced in whole or in part by persons, organizations, or corporations other than NCOA, its affiliates, divisions, and units without the prior written permission of an authorized officer of NCOA. For permission, please contact newsletters@ncoa.org.


NCOA | 251 18th Street South | Suite 500 | Arlington, VA 22202


Email #2:

Members of the U.S. Senate are working behind closed doors on their own version of American Health Care Act (AHCA).   The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on the AHCA within the next two weeks. There is a lot at stake for Wisconsin in this vote. The AHCA cuts federal Medicaid funding by 25% over 10 years and eliminates key health care protections for children and adults with disabilitiesEstimates indicate Wisconsin could lose $1 billion in funding and put many essential programs and supports for children/adults with disabilities and seniors at risk.


There have been no public hearings held on these major proposed changes. Join us on June 15 to let the Senate know that Wisconsinites don’t support the AHCA.  

These significant cuts to Medicaid mean cuts to Wisconsin programs like Family Care, IRIS, the Children’s waiver, BadgerCare, mental health programs like CCS, Katie Beckett, autism services, therapies like OT, PT and Speech, personal care, supports provided in schools and even Aging and Disability Resource Centers. Many of these are “optional services” in Medicaid and are at significant risk of being cut or eliminated.


The Senate is also debating:

  • Even bigger cuts to Medicaid
  • Weakening protections for people with disabilities and other pre-existing conditions by allowing states to charge them more for health care.
  • Allowing states to stop providing Essential Health Benefits like habilitative/rehabilitative services and devices; mental health services and prescription drug coverage.


On June 15, join us in doing these four things:

  1. Call Senators Ron Johnson (202-224-5323) and Tammy Baldwin (202-224-5653) and Ask them to vote NO on the American Health Care act because it:
  2. Includes devastating cuts to Medicaid that will mean cuts to Wisconsin programs that children and adults with disabilities need.
  3. Weakens protections for people with disabilities and other pre-existing conditions by allowing states to charge them more for health care.
  4. Allows states to stop providing Essential Health Benefits like habilitative/rehabilitative services and devices; mental health services and prescription drugs
  5. Is being debated behind closed doors with no public input.


  1. Call Governor Walker: 608-266-1212 and tell him the AHCA will hurt Wisconsinites.


  1. Call your local radio/TV stations and ask to be interviewed about how the health care reform bill hurts children and adults with disabilities.


  1. Tell two of your friends what cuts to Medicaid would mean for you and your family. Ask them to call their two U.S. Senators!

Information on Medicaid enrollment in your Congressional District can be found here: http://www.survivalcoalitionwi.org/index.php/2017/updates/results-and-stories-from-survival-coalitions-am-i-impacted-by-medicaid-survey/

A Celebration of Janice Beers

By Steven H. Morrison
Executive Director Emeritus

Perhaps the greatest joy and most professionally fulfilling work during the years I served as Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Madison and Jewish Social Services was leading our Jewish community’s efforts to resettle refugees from the former Soviet Union starting in 1989. Janice Beers began volunteering for us that year as part of that program.

Subsequently, JSS hired her as the Resettlement Secretary in 1990 for a temporary summer position. After two years of temporary work, the position became permanent. Janice strove to become fluent in Russian and learn the professional skills of social services, both of which she mastered. By 1993, Janice became the director of the refugee program.  Over the years, she resettled over 350 refugees. The program boasted 100% employment for all working-age refugees!

Janice was one of the very first Russian medical interpreters to provide services to the community and the first to complete the “Bridging the Gap” training.

In the early 2000’s, as the refugee resettlement program was slowly ending, Janice recognized the need for low-cost immigration legal services in our community.  She independently researched and discovered the opportunity for JSS to become a United States Board of Immigration Appeals recognized agency and for herself to become a BIA Accredited Representative. In 2005, Janice took the initiative to turn that dream into a reality.  For the past 12 years, JSS was the first BIA Recognized agency and Janice the first  BIA Accredited Representative and for a decade the only agency and representative in Dane County.

In 2008, Janice led the way for JSS to become CLINIC’s (Catholic Immigration Network, Inc.) first non-Catholic subscriber agency.  In 2009, she was a founding member of the Community Immigration Law Center (CILC) and  served on the Board for four years.  In 2012, Janice became a member of the Madison Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Leadership Committee and continues to be a member of the local Immigration  Advocate Coalition. In addition to providing direct services to clients, she provides community education presentations on a monthly basis.  In 2013, Janice wrote a Comprehensive Immigration Reform plan that was awarded by CLINIC.  In 2015, she secured funding from Dane County for JSS’ Immigration Program, which provides both legal and social services to clients. This was the first significant funding JSS had ever received from the County. The county funds helped JSS expand its program by hiring a bilingual assistant. That funding is now in its third year.

Over the twenty-seven years she has been part of Jewish Social Services of Madison (including a two-year stint as the JSS Volunteer Coordinator), Janice has touched the lives of some 1,800 immigrants from over 80 countries as well as the hundreds of volunteers and others throughout the community with whom she worked.

Jewish teaching could not be more specific with respect to the treatment of immigrant: “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” [Leviticus 19:33-34], a principle that is referenced or repeated thirty-five times in Torah, the most of any mitzvah.

Janice Beers has been the living embodiment of this historic value and as she now moves to the Catholic Multicultural Center to continue her life-saving and enhancing work on behalf of immigrants, I invite all in our community to join with me in extending our appreciation, admiration, and affection.


March E-Connect

Mishloach Manot and the Meaning of Purim

Dear Friends,

This past weekend we celebrated the Jewish festival of Purim full of costumes, hamentashen and the revelry of Purim carnivals and megillah readings. In addition to the festive celebration, at Purim we are commanded to give mishloach manot, gifts of food to one and other as well as giving gifts to the poor. One reason that we give misholoach manot is to create unity in our community. Haman, the villain of the Purim story, thought he could destroy the Jews because they were scattered and separate from one another. Queen Esther, who ultimately saved the Jews, knew that the people had to be unified to overcome the evil decree and brought them together through a common cause.

Over the past two weeks we at JSS have created unity in our Madison Jewish community as we fulfilled the commandment of giving mishloach manot. JSS worked with Congregation Sha’arei Shamayim, where the students at the religious school, made 20 mishloach manot packages filled with fruit, hamentashen and handmade cards for clients at JSS. Senior services social worker, Maya Garbuz, and I took these packages and have been delivering them to members of our community who are ill, in mourning or have limitations that make coming to community celebrations difficult or impossible. Through these acts of kindness we connected children with the elderly, created collaboration between two Jewish institutions and brought many who would have otherwise be isolated into the communal celebration of the holiday.

This work of creating connections and providing support is the heart of what Jewish Social Services does. It is a privilege for me to have joined the staff at JSS as the new community Chaplain. In my first few months of my new position I have met many people and have had the honor of hearing their stories as they meet the challenges facing them on their life journey. I am here to provide spiritual care and presence to people in the Jewish community who are not affiliated with a synagogue. I ask you to help me connect with those people in need of support by sharing my contact information with them and by sharing your ideas about spiritual care needs in our community with me.
Rabbi Renee Bauer
Director of Chaplaincy and Outreach

February E-Connect

Dear Friends,
We continue to be very busy at JSS. In January we hired Becca Schwartz to be our new Resettlement Coordinator. Becca is originally from Middleton but lived and worked in various countries in Africa for over ten years. She is now back to Madison with her husband and toddler.
This month we hired Rihab Taha as our first Arabic speaking case worker! Prior to moving to Madison, Rihab lived in Sudan and Egypt. Rihab lives in Madison with her husband and three children, one in elementary school, one in middle school and one in high school.
The Jewish Social Services team is doing some amazing work in the community. They are working collaboratively with community volunteers, other agencies, and the synagogues to offer assistance to those in need, serving the spiritual, emotional, physical, social needs of individuals, families. They are providing senior adult programs, case management, social work, immigration legal services, and refugee resettlement. But we need your help.
  1. Volunteer in Our Community: Please support the work of Jewish Social Services. Consider volunteering with our agency, either directly members of our community, whether they are seniors, refugees, or others or serve on one of our committees.
  2. Make a Call: Urge our President, Senators, Representatives and Governor to continue to Welcome Refugees to Madison. Or tell them that you believe that we should protect our immigrant communities. Or tell them that you believe that our vulnerable populations need health care.
  3. Donate to Jewish Social Services: Many of our clients are the people most at risk under this administration. Some rely on Medicare and Badgercare, cash assistance and housing support. Others were brought to the United States as children, have gone to school here, and are studying things like biomedical engineering, but are at risk of being deported. Still others managed to just get to the United States, but their families have been left behind.
Finally, please keep an eye out and follow our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JSSMadison/ for some additional actions you can take to support those we ought to help.
Dawn Berney
Executive Director

January E-Connect

Thank You!

Dear Friends,

It may be cold outside, but we are warmed by the kindness and generosity of all of our supporters and volunteers. We wanted to say thank you to everyone who contributed during 2016.

  • Thank you for driving a senior to the grocery store each week and rolling the cart to her to inspect the produce that you chose. Thank you for giving her something special to look forward to.
  • Thank you for organizing your girl scout troop to do a blanket and sheet drive as part of your Bat Mitzvah project. It is such a relief to know that the refugees who JSS are working to resettle will have lovely bedding.
  • Thank you for visiting our younger client living in a nursing home who doesn’t have family in the area. Without you, he might only be interacting with the staff each week.
  • Thank you for volunteering at Lechayim each week. You and your smile greets our community members every Monday and provide support to our staff and our community.
  • Thank you for providing pro bono legal services so that a family can receive asylum and become US citizens.
  • Thank you for sitting on our Board of Directors and ensuring that Jewish Social Services is meeting the needs of our community and is using its funds in the ways that the donors intended.
  • Thank you for donating money, time, and goods to Jewish Social Services of Madison to allow us the opportunity to help people meet their basic needs.

Today, on Martin Luther King Day, we remember Dr. King’s great dream of a nation united in justice, peace and reconciliation. Thank you for all that you’ve done and you continue to do to help us to follow Dr. King’s dream. Right now, I feel it is even more important than at any time since I can remember to remind ourselves that we are a multiracial nation who all came from somewhere else and that our clients, our staff, our volunteers, our community need to continue to support one another.

Finally, please keep an eye out for our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JSSMadison/ for some additional actions you can take to support those we ought to help.