Mission Statement

Jewish Family Service is a human service organization, which reflects the Jewish tradition of caring and compassion for all people in need. Through professional counseling, advocacy and educational programming, our services seek to enhance and strengthen the quality of individual, family and community life.

History of Jewish Family Service of Northeastern Pennsylvania

The Jewish Federation of Scranton was organized in August 1915 and was primarily set up to coordinate the relief activities of all the service organizations in existence in the Jewish community at that time. In 1915, the function of the Federation was one of family service, fund raising and coordinating the activities of the medical and dental clinics.

The particular concern of the Jewish Federation was and always has been the family. In the near century of our experience, families have weathered storms and upheavals that have left their mark on governments and established human institutions. For the Jewish families, persecution, torture, forced migrations and hurried adjustments to new ways of living have been some of the handicaps imposed. Within these stressors, the family has been expected to fulfill its function of providing the secure haven in which children may be enabled to mature with strength to carry on their eventual designated activities in the community. Throughout this period, the Federation stood ready to help families in meeting their everyday problems.

Until 1935, the Jewish Federation’s emphasis was upon relief and rehabilitation for the needy and unemployed, although the Federation assisted Jewish families with various family problems. In 1945, the Scranton-Lackawanna Jewish Council was formed and assumed responsibility for the “Federation” function of the agency such as raising funds, allocations, community relations and community planning, etc. The function that remained to the Federation was that of service.

From 1945 on, with the increased prosperity in the Jewish community and the fact that the State now had a well-developed Public Assistance program, the relief function of the Federation decreased tremendously. In 1949, the Policy Committee of the Federation studied the function of the Federation and, in 1950, suggested that, among other things, a trained social worker be engaged as Executive Director in order to provide a skilled caseworker and counseling services to the Jewish community. The Board of the Federation accepted the recommendation and Albert Geffen, who was a graduate from a school of social work, was engaged.

In 1976, the agency name was changed from the Jewish Federation to The Jewish Family Service of Lackawanna County, and most recently to The Jewish Family Service of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

JFS Presidents 1915-Present

Samuel Samter* 1915-18
Louis Oetinger* 1918-39
Leon Levy* 1939-49
Bert Linder* 1949-51
Albert Margolies* 1951-54
Dr. Bernard Shair* 1954-57
Emanuel Laster, Esq.* 1957-60
Dr. Joseph Newman* 1960-63
A. I. Gross* 1963-66
Irwin E. Alperin* 1966-69
Paul Alamar* 1969-72
Karl H. Strohl, Esq.* 1972-75
Paul Magida* 1975-78
Harold Sprung* 1978-80
Seth S. Gross 1980-83
Ronald Black* 1983-85
Donald G. Douglass, Esq. 1985-87
Bernardine Kaplan* 1987-88
Dr. Stephen Rosenthal* 1988-89
Richard S. Bishop, Esq. 1989-91
Phyllis Mardo* 1991-94
Joel Joseph* 1994-96
Sheldon Goldstein* 1996-98
Paula Wasser 1998-00
Hon. Richard M. Lovenwirth 2000-02
Richard I. Schwartz 2002-04
Jerome Klein* 2004-06
Robert Ballot 2006-07
Alan Smertz 2008-11
Barbara Nivert 2011-13
Susan Blum Connors 2013-15
Jay Landau 2015-16
Eric Weinberg 2016-19
Deirdre Spelman, ACSW 2019-22
*Of Blessed Memory