Category Archive: Volunteers

Hurricane Irma

hurricane-irma-satellite-noaa-ht-jc-170905_12x5_992Hurricane Irma Update: Irma has left many Central Floridians without the most basic of needs: food, water and shelter. JFS Orlando has addressed those exact needs for nearly 40 years and we continue to open our doors and outstretch our hands to lift up those in need. After a natural disaster, it is amazing to see a community band together and help neighbors in need. Now that we have begun to pick up the pieces, many of you are asking how you can help. We have listed our most urgent Agency needs below and appreciate your support!

1. DONATE NON-PERISHABLE FOOD. Our Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry is expecting numbers to continue to rise as power is restored and citizens are able to replenish their food that spoiled. Donations can be dropped off at our building located at The George Wolly Center 2100 Lee Rd., Winter Park, FL 32789.
2. MONETARY DONATIONS. Much of the food we give out through the pantry is purchased from a local food bank. Every dollar donated turns into $6 worth of purchasing power to supplement what we do not get donated from the community. Donations can be made online at or by calling Amanda Benedit at 407-644-7593 ext. 227
3. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME. Our food pantry is staffed by a wonderful core group of volunteers, however, with increased numbers of clients we will likely extend our pantry hours and need your help to distribute food to those in need. You can apply to become a volunteer by calling Amanda Benedit 407-644-7593 ext. 227.

For additional information on how you can help with Hurricane Irma Relief, please visit or call 407-644-7593.

David Zissman – Mensch Of The Week

MOTW David ZissmanFor his efforts organizing the Rosh Hashanah Holiday Meal Delivery program, Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando is proud to name David Zissman as the Mensch of The Week as seen in the Ma Nishma Newsletter of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. David has been a valued volunteer for years at JFS Orlando through service in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry, and he recently organized all the volunteers delivering kosher meals to the home-bound elderly for the New Year. A native Central Floridian, David currently lives in Oviedo with his wife, Heidi, and their three children. David is a graduate of the Federation’s Jerome J. Bornstein Leadership Development Program, and has volunteered with the Jewish Academy of Orlando, The Roth Family JCC’s Richard S. Adler Early Childhood Learning Center, and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training. The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando regularly honors individuals and groups in our community who embody Jewish values in service to others.

Thank you, David, for the great work you do throughout our  community!

Lily – Holiday Meal Delivers

Meet Lily Morgenthaler, 98 years young and a holocaust survivor. Lily is just one of 50 homebound elderly persons that JFS Orlando Volunteers delivered hot kosher meals for the Thanksgiving holiday. Lily was born in Poland and married in 1938 just before the war. Her husband, Harry, and her were sent to separate work farms (concentration camps). She shared her memories of when food consisted of watery soup made with rotten vegetables and mostly no meat, a few ounces of bread, a bit of margarine, and tea. Lily said, “I survived by working hard. No work. No eat. So we did what we had to do. That was it.” Reunited after the war, her family immigrated over to the U.S. via Ellis Island, settling in New York and eventually making their way down to Florida to be near her grandchildren. She now has a legacy of 13 great-grand children. “There may be more. I’ll have to think about that,” she says with a laugh.

IMG_0398Linda Ackerman, shown here with Lily, is one of our fabulous volunteers who delivered the meals. Linda has been delivering holiday meals for many years and has developed a special bond with Lily over the years, which includes welcoming her into her home for the high holidays. “She is so sharp. Lily’s mind wonders a bit, but whose wouldn’t at 98? It’s an honor to know her.”


Eric Geboff, JFS Orlando Executive Director shared that, “While this Holiday Meals program may provide hot, nutritious food for older adult shut-ins, it is much more than that. For many of those who received the meals, the volunteers may have been their only visitors in the past week. The delivery and conversation that ensured brought a ray of sunshine to an otherwise lonely life. Yes, we feed the hungry; clothe the naked; and provide hope to the downtrodden. But we also positively impact the lives of thousands in our community. This is our tradition and these are our actions every day of the year.”

Thank you to the Congregation Ohev Shalom Orlando, United Synagogue Youth (USY) Teens and the Congregation of Reform Judaism’s Social Action Committee for putting together Thanksgiving goodie bags!