Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services

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Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services
Jewish Board of Family and Children Services.jpg
Founded atNew York, New York
Merger ofJewish Family Service and Jewish Board of Guardians (1978); Federation Employment & Guidance Services (FEGS) (2015)
TypeSocial Service
Legal status501(c)(3) organization
HeadquartersNew York, New York
ServicesEmotional Crisis

Family Services Family Violence Living with Mental Illness Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Sadness, Worry or Loss Supportive Housing Services for Early Childhood Services for Children Services for Teens

One Call
David Rivel
WebsiteThe Jewish Board

The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (The Jewish Board) is one of the United States' largest nonprofit mental health and social service agencies and New York City's largest social services nonprofit.[1][2]

Its services are non-sectarian. There are over 3,300 employees and 2,200 volunteers serving over 43,000 New Yorkers annually at its community-based programs, residential facilities, and day-treatment centers in each of the five boroughs as well as Westchester County.[3]

Programs available cover:

  • Mental health outpatient clinic for teenagers[4]
  • Adults Living with Mental Illness
  • Children and Adolescent Services
  • Volunteer
  • Jewish Community Services
  • Counseling Services
  • Domestic Violence & Preventive Services
  • Early Childhood & Learning
  • People Living with Developmental Disabilities
  • Professional and Leadership Development
The Hebrew Charities Building, built in 1899, formerly stood at Second Avenue and 21st Street in New York City and was the headquarters of United Hebrew Charities.[5][6]

The Jewish Board was created through the successive mergers of New York-area Jewish charitable organizations. The United Hebrew Charities was established in 1845 as an umbrella organization for the Hebrew Benevolent Fuel Association, the Ladies Benevolent Society of the Congregation of the Gates of Prayer, the Hebrew Relief Society, and the Hebrew Benevolent and Orphan Society. In 1926 it became the Jewish Social Services Association. It merged in 1946 with the Jewish Family Welfare Society of Brooklyn to form Jewish Family Services (JFS). The present-day Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services (The Jewish Board) resulted in 1978 from a further merger with the Jewish Board of Guardians. In June 2015, The Jewish Board acquired $75 million worth of behavioral health programs from the Federation Employment & Guidance Services (FEGS).[6]

Community Partnerships[edit]

Jewish Community Services[edit]

The Jewish Board's Jewish Community Services program provides a religious support for mental health and social services,[7] including education on the opioid epidemic[8] and domestic violence,[9] to New York City's Jewish community.

Mental Health Support for Veterans[edit]

To support the mental health of veterans in the NYC Area, many of whom avoided care because they felt there was a stigma around seeking help, The Jewish Board and the Bronx VA Medical Center worked toward creating family-focused mental health services for veterans and veteran families of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars living in the Bronx, NY. The program was then expanded to provide long-term care and access for veterans and families of veterans.[10]

NYC Students' Mental Health[edit]

The 100 Schools Project was started in 2016 in partnership with OneCity Health (NYC Health + Hospitals), Community Care of Brooklyn (Maimonides Medical Center), Bronx Health Access (Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center), and Bronx Partners for Healthy Communities (SBH Health System) to address gaps in children’s mental health resources. It connects middle and high schools in New York City with local community-based organizations[11] and trains teachers and staff basics of diagnostic and intervention methods to help support student’s mental and behavioral health.[12]

AIDS Education and Support[edit]

Former CEO Dr. Jerome Goldsmith, who also served on the Board of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, was an one of the first to recognize the importance of mental health services for people with HIV/AIDS, and advocated to increase the availability of mental health care for those affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York City.[13]

Bob Zielony, who directed of the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education department of The Jewish Board for six-years, was involved with outreach to Jewish communities in the New York area to educate them on the immunodeficiency virus as well as ways to prevent transmission, occasionally using Jewish-centric themes like "pikuach nefesh, the obligation under Jewish law to save lives under any circumstances" as justification for safe sex practices.[14]

In 2018, The Jewish Board acquired The Alpha Workshops,[15] which provides training in the decorative arts as a licensed school of design for LGBTQ+ adults and/or those living with HIV/AIDS and other disabilities.



Dr. Neubauer's study on monozygotic multiples[edit]

In the late 1950s, Doctor Viola Bernard of Louise Wise Services, a prominent New York City Jewish adoption agency in the 1960s, created a policy to separate identical twins for adoption, with the intent that "early mothering would be less burdened and divided and the child’s developing individuality would be facilitated."[16]

In 1961, psychiatrist Peter B. Neubauer, then director of New York's Child Development Center, began a multi-year "nature versus nurture" twin study to observe how the separated siblings would fare in different environments. This involved at least five sets of identical twins and one set of triplets deliberately separated and placed into adoptive families by Louise Wise Services under Doctor Viola Bernard's policies.[17]

As a condition of the adoption, the parents agreed to in-person visits of up to four times a year by the study's research team, where the children would be observed, questioned, tested and/or filmed, without knowing the true nature of the study.[18] The parents of the adopted children were also not informed by Louise Wise Services that they were part of a twin or triplet set, and one biological mother to a set of twins separated by Bernard and studied by Neubauer reported that Louise Wise Services did not inform her that her children would be separated. Ultimately, one of separated siblings committed suicide.[19] Some have drawn ethical comparisons with the notorious twin experiments by the same Nazi regime that Neubauer himself had escaped,[20] while others have commented that the study was ethically defensible by the standards of the time.[21]

Dr. Neubauer's study was never completed, and in 1978, the Jewish Board of Guardians merged with Jewish Family Services to form the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services.[22] The study records are currently in the custody of Yale University under seal until October 25, 2065, and cannot be released to the public without authorization from The Jewish Board,[23] while Louse Wise Services' adoption records are held by Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children.[24]

In 2011, two identical twins who reunited as adults, Doug Rausch and Howard Burack, sent a letter to The Jewish Board requesting to see their records. The Jewish Board initially denied that Rausch and Burack had been part of the study, until the brothers were able to produce archived notes from one of Dr. Neubauer's former research assistants proving that they were indeed part of the study.[25] The Jewish Board says Dr. Neubauer's study records are sealed to the public until 2065 to protect the privacy of those studied, and to this date all study subjects who have requested their personal records have received them.[26]

The Neubauer study was the subject of the memoir Identical Strangers (2007)[27] and the documentary films The Twinning Reaction (2017)[28] and Three Identical Strangers (2018),[29][30] along with the television episode Secret Siblings (2018).[31]


  1. ^ "David Rivel shakes up the venerable Jewish Board". Crain's New York Business. January 26, 2014. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  2. ^ "Meet New York's new largest social-services nonprofit". Crain's New York Business. May 29, 2015. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  3. ^ "Programs and Services". The Jewish Board. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  4. ^ "Jewish Board of Family & Children's Services (JBFCS): Greenberg/Youth Counseling League". Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  5. ^ "Hebrew Charities Building—The Gift of Solomon Loeb to Jewish Charity Dedicated—Mr. Rice Appeals for Endowment Fund". New York Times. May 19, 1899. p. 12. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Guide to the Jewish Family Service collection, 1875–1940; I-375, Center for Jewish History. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  7. ^ Retrieved November 6, 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "Opioid Epidemic Claims Lives in Queens' Bukharian Jewish Community". DNAinfo New York. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  9. ^ "Breaking the Silence: Community at a Crossroads | WFUV". Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  10. ^ "Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services (JBFCS)". New York State Health Foundation. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  11. ^ "A new program will give 100 New York City schools extra mental health training". Chalkbeat. September 6, 2016. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  12. ^ "NYC Health + Hospitals Tackles the Special Behavioral Health Needs of Children" (in Maltese). Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  13. ^ "Currents June 2013: In Memoriam - Dr. Jerome Goldsmith - National Association of Social Workers New York City". Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  14. ^ "Focus on Issues: Jewish Aids Educator in N.Y. Battles Prudishness and Denialin Community". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. April 12, 1994. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  15. ^ "Alpha Workshops founder Ken Wampler passes the torch". December 4, 2018. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  16. ^ Oppenheim, Lois (April 4, 2019) [First published February 9, 2019]. "The Truth About "Three Identical Strangers"". Psychology Today. In the late 1950s and before Peter Neubauer was involved, Dr. Bernard created a policy to separate identical twins for adoption. Dr. Bernard’s intent with the separations was benign. In a recently uncovered memo, she expressed her hope that “early mothering would be less burdened and divided and the child’s developing individuality would be facilitated.”
  17. ^ Lerner, Barron (April 4, 2019) [First published January 27, 2019]. "'Three Identical Strangers': The high cost of experimentation without ethics". The Washington Post. Bernard, trained in classical Freudian psychiatry, believed that bonding between a mother and child was the most important aspect of childhood development. This theory led the agency to place twins in separate homes, thinking that giving each child its own mother would be best for the child. By studying this process, Neubauer’s team could potentially solve the age-old debate about nurture vs. nature.
  18. ^ Saul, Stephanie (January 31, 1998) [First published October 18, 1997]. "Separated Triplets Had Been Studied Since Birth". Newsday – via Greensboro News & Record.
  19. ^ Savulescu, Julian. "Four Lessons from the Covert Separation and Study of Triplets". Practical Ethics.
  20. ^ Kardon, Gabrielle (March 16, 2018). "Life in triplicate". Science. 359 (6381): 1222. doi:10.1126/science.aat0954. The irony of a Jewish researcher and a Jewish adoption agency conducting a twin study after the atrocities waged against Jewish people in Nazi Germany is clear.
  21. ^ Hoffman, Leon. "Three Identical Strangers and The Twinning Reaction—Clarifying History and Lessons for Today From Peter Neubauer's Twins Study". Journal of the American Medical Association.
  22. ^ Jackson, Kenneth (December 1, 2010). The Encyclopedia of New York City: Second Edition. ISBN 978-0300114652. "In 1978 the Jewish Board of Guardians merged with the Jewish Family Services, and they became the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services
  23. ^ McCormack, William (October 1, 2018). "Records from controversial twin study sealed at Yale until 2065". Yale Daily News. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  24. ^ Glaser, Gabrielle (July 10, 2015). "A Son Given Up for Adoption Is Found After Half a Century, and Then Lost Again". New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2019. Louise Wise has since closed, and in 2004, all of its records related to voluntary adoptions were given over to the Spence-Chapin agency
  25. ^ "Twins make astonishing discovery that they were separated shortly after birth and then part of a secret study". ABC News. March 9, 2018. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  26. ^ McCormack, William (October 1, 2018). "Records from controversial twin study sealed at Yale until 2065". Yale Daily News. Retrieved February 1, 2019. A spokesperson for the Jewish Board told the News that all individuals were notified of their participation in the study and “provided with copies of their records that relate directly to Dr. Neubauer’s study of them.” The Jewish Board did not clarify when individuals had been notified, but did note that redactions to the materials were made to ensure the privacy of other subjects.
  27. ^ Flaim, Denise (November 25, 2007). "Lost and Found: Twin sister separated at birth are reunited and work toward a new relationship". Journal Times.
  28. ^ The Twinning Reaction: Official Site. Retrieved July 23, 2018
  29. ^ Three Identical Strangers: Official Trailer. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  30. ^ Three Identical Strangers: the bizarre tale of triplets separated at birth (June 28, 2018), The Guardian.
  31. ^ "Secret Siblings". 20/20. March 9, 2018. ABC News. Retrieved January 7, 2019.

External links[edit]