Case Management


One of the JCCC’s core operating principles is recognizing the true worth and value of each and every individual. Each day, our professional staff and volunteers go out of their way to uplift the most vulnerable and distressed members of society. Behind the veneer of the pain and sadness of our clients is true beauty of Divine spirit. Recognizing the invaluable worth of every single individual we meet, enables us to offer a much more meaningful provision of services.

Bearing this in mind, we view assisting families with end of life issues as a critical and sacred task. Often this represents one of life’s most challenging moments. Frequently, the remaining family members are struggling with advanced age and ill health themselves. Dealing with the pressing and imminent issues of hospitals, public officials and cemeteries is most daunting.

In an effort to provide proper support and guidance to the JCCC clients with respect to end of life issues, a recent training was held for JCCC professional staff members. Topics included living wills, burial options and working with public administrators when no close family exist. A dynamic training was provided by Rabbi Elchonon Zohn, Founder and Director of the National Association of Chevra Kaddisha, who helped clarify the Jewish traditional views on the end of life issues. This training empowered the staff to assist the clients in accordance with their wishes.

In his speech, Rabbi Zohn emphasized the extraordinary respect accorded the deceased in Jewish law. He demonstrated how Jewish belief in the eternity of the human soul is reflected in the Jewish practices connected to death and mourning.

“This training has helped us to better understand the needs of our Jewish clients and has given us the tools to assist them with even greater sensitivity”, says Sara Himmelfarb, a social worker at the JCC of Canarsie

We are deeply grateful to Rabbi Zohn for his highly informative and insightful presentation.

A memorial stone at the grave of Mr. Fred Goldberg, of blessed memory Last year when our client Fred Goldberg passed away, the JCC of Canarsie honored his last wishes to be buried in accordance with Jewish tradition. This past week, through the help of JCCC donors, who never met Mr. Goldberg, we were able to arrange for a grave foundation and stone to be placed at his burial site at King Solomon Cemetery in Caldwell, NJ.

It was an eclectic group that gathered at the cemetery on a sunny November morning. Among those gathered was a group of young Yeshiva students, a middle-aged Muslim neighbor and a family who had been touched by his kindness during their fathers hospital stay.

Sometimes when facing difficult life situations, some people become bitter and alienated from society. Fred Goldberg, however, was a friendly and uplifting individual, in spite of life’s unkind allotment.

Mr. Fred Goldberg, of blessed memory, led a lonely and tragic life. Orphaned at a young age, he spent most of his years fruitlessly trying to recapture the human warmth and closeness he lost as a young boy. At the end of his life, Fred was virtually confined to his Starrett City apartment by a debilitating disease. His primary link to the world was through JCC of Canarsie staff members.

Partial view of the crowd assembled at the unveiling

Fred Harry Goldberg grew up as an only child in New York City and experienced his first tragedy at thirteen, when his father passed away. A year later, at age fourteen, his broken-hearted mother passed away. Tragically, at age sixteen, the uncle who adopted him also passed away. Towards the end of his life, Fred was plagued with serious medical illnesses, but still kept an optimistic outlook on life. His ability to sense the true feelings of others was extraordinary. Often, during his numerous hospital stays, he would go out of his way to make his roommates feel more comfortable and at ease. Instead of focusing on his own difficult situation, he made a point of being friendly by repeating interesting stories, and making jokes. Various people from different walks of life have come forward to relate how he helped lessen their pain and discomfort through his effusive and friendly personality.

Fred Goldberg's passion was art, where he created dozens of Biblical pieces during his spare time. He also enjoyed reading books on Jewish spirituality and human interests.

Rabbi Avrohom Hecht, Executive Director of the JCCC, who served as Fred’s health proxy and personal confidante, noted, “One of the most rewarding activities we face as professionals is making a true difference in people’s lives, especially during their twilight years. Fred Goldberg was an extraordinary individual, who loved all people and life as well. His spirit will be missed by our entire JCCC family.”

The kindness that Fred Goldberg showed to others was showered back upon him when Rabbinical students from the Yeshiva Gedolah of Passaic attended both his funeral and his unveiling in order to ensure a minyan, a quorum of ten men. Although none of these young men had ever met Mr. Goldberg, they were more than willing to assist in providing him with a proper Jewish burial.

Last year, upon his shloshim, the thirtieth day after his passing, over one hundred students from the Yeshiva in Passaic gathered together to commemorate Fred’s life by completing the six orders of Mishnah, a written redaction of the Jewish Oral Tradition, written over two thousand years ago. JCCC professional staff was privileged to participate in this moving event and to express their appreciation to the young men who attended.


A smile is the first thing you notice about this diminutive, kerchief-clad woman.
Always quick to offer a kind word or a long oriental-style blessing to anyone she meets, Maria Galibova has quickly become a favorite in the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Council Towers residence that she now calls home.

Maria and her husband Abdukhay Chaimov came to Brooklyn from Samarkand, in 1994, after their native Uzbekistan became a hotbed of violence and instability. Abdukhay and Maria’s sixty year long marriage saw its share of both happy moments, sadness and pain; their optimistic natures and quiet dignified strength have helped them live through many difficult times, including acculturating as new Americans in their new home.

The JCC of Canarsie was privileged to help Abdukhay and Maria since their first
years in the US. Our social workers helped the Chaimov family navigate through the confusing maze of medical, financial and psychological issues, and eased their fears and uncertainties. Now, sixteen years later, although they still require some basic social services from the JCC of Canarsie staff, Abdukhay and Maria are more independent in their new surroundings. We feel privileged to continue assisting this special couple during their time of need.

You too can become a JCC of Canarsie partner in providing complete case management, client advocacy, food and housing assistance to the elderly, infirmed and disadvantaged residents of Southeast Brooklyn living at or below the poverty level.


When Mila Ovten first arrived to the US as a refugee from the now-defunct Soviet Union more than twenty years ago, she did not know that soon she would be guiding others in their adjustment to their new country.

Yet, this is exactly what happened. Confronted by the harsh realities of immigration, Mila promised herself that one day she would be the one to help others in easing their struggles. Mila started by volunteering at the Jewish Community Council of Canarsie. Her comforting presence and native Russian speech played a vital role in softening the cultural shock of immigration for many families.

Almost immediately, her volunteer activities developed into a full-time occupation, with Mila continuing to counsel, support, advocate and listen to “her” clients. At the same time, this busy mother of two went on to earn her second Masters degree, blending her innate caring with the latest in professional training.

“A great percentage of our clients are senior citizens,” says Mila. “Strictly speaking, my job is directing them to the resources available. In reality, they come to view us as a family, looking for help, reassurance and human warmth. For many of them, we are their main link to the world”.

Mila’s words are best illustrated by the case of Manya K. (the name and some details are changed to protect her privacy). This seventy one year old widow is no stranger to hardship. As a Holocaust survivor, whose childhood was spent in one of the Ukrainian ghettos, she was one of the few who lived to see freedom.

The trauma of a childhood spent in the shadow of death is still felt more than sixty years later. Today Manya suffers from a number of debilitating conditions. Her mobility is severely limited after losing a foot to diabetes. Alone, without any relatives, Manya came to view the JCC staff as her direct source of help and support.

Says Mila Ovten: “We did our best to ease Manya’s situation. We stood by her when she faced eviction from her apartment; we were there when she needed food deliveries to her home; and we continue to be there for her for the myriad of details that need to be taken care of.”

While very symbolic, Manya’s case is far from unique. Thankfully for her and many other Southeast Brooklyn residents, Mila Ovten is always ready to help.

“Money alone cannot adequately reward you – you restore the very life for your
clients,” wrote one of those she helped.

We salute Mila Ovten’s work and wish her the strength and fortitude to continue her important and life-saving mission.

The JCC of Canarsie does not boast an imposing building or fancy furniture. Its physical realm is limited to several modest rooms located within a housing complex for low-in come seniors. Yet, this is all that’s needed for the JCC’s caring and professional staff to help more than seven thousand people a year.

An elderly couple, unable to care for themselves any longer; a young single mother in need of emergency food assistance; a recent immigrant, confronting the realities of a new country – all of them find a listening ear and capable assistance at the JCC of Canarsie.

Client advocacy, emergency food packages, and social events for community seniors – these are just some of the services available to JCC's visitors in need.

Yet, some of JCC’s most needy clients have never set foot in its headquarters. They are the invisible home-bound elderly and disabled neighborhood residents, who view their weekly fresh-frozen meal deliveries by JCC staff members and volunteers as the highlight of their week. For many of these seniors, a smile and some small talk are almost as important as meals themselves, linking them to the world at large and helping them break through the fog of loneliness and depression.

“The JCC of Canarsie is totally committed to improving the quality of life for our precious clients,” says Rabbi Avrohom Hecht, the JCC of Canarsie Executive Director. “Although our agency has sustained tens of thousands of dollars in governmental budgetary assistance cuts, we have opted to preserve the scope and quality of our services. We are mindful of the achievements and legacy of our previous generations. We feel fortunate to be able to assist so many frail and at-risk individuals during their twilight years. We are honored to be able to serve on the front lines of the poverty and hunger in "such an extraordinary way with a truly competent and most caring professional staff.” Please consider becoming our partner by making a tax-deductible donation to the JCC of Canarsie.

1170 Pennsylvania Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11239-1214 | Tel. (718) 495-6210
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