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Jewish Family Service Staff

The JFS Board of Trustees listing can be seen on this page.

Jerry Starr, LCSW

Executive Director of Jewish Family Service of Somerset, Hunterdon, and Warren Counties

Jerry Starr

Jerry is the Executive Director of Jewish Family Service of Somerset, Hunterdon, and Warren Counties. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New Jersey and New York and has, for over thirty years, provided supportive services in the community.

His professional experience includes psychotherapy with individuals and families and social work in school settings and in group homes for individuals with developmental disabilities. In addition he has developed programs and services to help the elderly age in place and has coordinated support services for Holocaust survivors.

“Our mission at JFS of SHW is to put Jewish values to work and to be there when an individual, family or community needs us.”

Contact Jerry via email at Jstarr@JewishFamilySvc.Org

Tova Friedman, LCSW

Tova Friedman

Tova Friedman received a B.A. in Psychology from Brooklyn College, an M.A. in Black Literature from CCNY and an M.S.W. from Rutgers, The State University with a specialty in Gerontology.

Tova is the former Executive Director of Jewish Family Service of Somerset, Hunterdon, and Warren Counties and has over 20 years of experience providing psychotherapy services and managing programs and agencies. She has provided psychotherapy services to individuals, families, couples and groups. She has also managed and provided Employee Assistance Program services for many companies in Somerset County.

Mrs. Friedman has extensive experience working with special populations including immigrant families, the elderly and individuals dealing with difficult children.

Tova, a Holocaust survivor, shares her experiences in Auschwitz with many schools and organizations. She hopes that her stories will emphasize that prejudice and violence will destroy both the victim and the victor. Her story and that of two of her friends appears in the book, Kinderlager, edited by Milt Nieuwsma, and published by Holiday House in 1998.

She has 4 children and 7 grandchildren. For 10 years, she and her family lived in Israel where she taught at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Contact Tova via email at TovaF@JewishFamilySvc.Org

Ruth Edelman, LCSW

Ruth Edelman

Ruth Edelman, LCSW is the Manager of Community Based Support Services (Family and Senior Mentor Programs, Good Deeds Corps, Special Needs, Ohr Tikvah Jewish Healing) . Ruth has an MSW from the University of Michigan, and holds postgraduate certificates in Infant Mental Health and Geriatrics. She has worked with children and their families for over 30 years in medical and social service settings. She has been involved in development of programs and services for older adults at JFS for the past 8 years. She has held supervisory positions overseeing social workers and psychologists, and has presented numerous workshops locally and nationally on work with children from birth to three, grief and loss, and supervisory and management topics.

“I believe strongly in the power of relationships for healing in our lives. We need one another. Most of us have much more to give than we realize. A supportive word, a caring gesture can make a difference to someone when they are feeling alone and struggling with some issue. The Family Mentor / Senior Friendly Visitor Program recruits, and trains volunteers who are matched with Somerset County families feeling overwhelmed with parenting and/or household management.”

These programs bring people with a need together with people who are in touch with their humanity. The volunteers are ordinary people, but they understand what 'being there' for someone is all about, and are willing to make a commitment for a few hours or a few weeks, or even a few years to be a mentor, a friendly home visitor, a Good Deeds Corps member, or to help the Community Chaplain visit those who are living in residential facilities or incarcerated and wish to continue their religious observances and traditions. I learn things from families and volunteers all the time. It is a richly rewarding experience to oversee these remarkable programs that bring what is needed into the homes of those needing services.

Contact Ruth via email at Redelman@JewishFamilySvc.Org

Elise Prezant

Project Coordinator

Elise Prezant

Elise Prezant has over 20 years of experience providing employment and vocational rehabilitation services in New Jersey and Georgia. Before joining JFS, she was the Manager of Career Services for Jewish Family and Career Services in Atlanta, Georgia. Ms. Prezant was responsible for the Career Counseling and Testing, Recruitment and Senior Employment programs. She has also provided vocational evaluation, vocational counseling, placement assistance and support to individuals with and without disabilities.

In addition, Ms. Prezant was the Executive Director of The Raritan Valley Workshop, an Easter Seal Facility in North Brunswick, NJ. The Raritan Valley Workshop provides vocational training for over 300 adults with disabilities on a daily basis.

Contact Elise via email at Eprezant@JewishFamilySvc.Org

Cantor Lee Coopersmith, D. Min.

Cantor Lee Coopersmith

Cantor Lee Coopersmith, D. Min, is the Community Chaplain of the Ohr Tikvah Jewish Healing Program. Cantor Coopersmith is a graduate of the School of Sacred Music of the Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and was ordained as a Cantor in 1982.

She received her Master of Sacred Theology and Pastoral Counseling Certificate from the New York Theological Seminary and the Post Graduate Center for Mental Health.

In 2010 she received her Doctor of Ministry from Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion and a Certificate of Completion in Clinical Education for Pastoral Ministry from the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health in New York City.

Dr. Coopersmith is Cantor Emeritus of Temple B'nai Abraham, Livingston, NJ and has served Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple, New Brunswick, NJ and Temple Sholom, Plainfield, NJ.

Dr. Coopersmith provides a range of services to the unaffiliated of all ages individually and in groups in settings ranging from JFS and the JCC, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, Assisted Living and Nursing Home residences, Developmental Service Centers, prisons. She is available to lead services for Jewish holidays in communal residences, facilitate programs, and respond to individual requests for consolation to those who are unaffiliated and seeking a Jewish presence during times of bereavement, medical or other life challenge.

Contact Cantor Coopersmith via email at Chaplain-JFS@JewishFamilySvc.Org

Sharon Chesir, LSW

Sharon Chesir

Sharon Chesir received her Masters of Social Work from Yeshiva University Wurzweiler School of Social Work and is a licensed social worker with more than twenty years of experience in a variety of settings. During the last fourteen years Sharon has been working almost exclusively with older adults and their families.

Most recently Sharon served as the Social Service Coordinator of Wilentz Senior Residence, which is a HUD Section 8 facility for seniors and those who require the special features of handicapped-accessible units. In that capacity Sharon was responsible for ensuring the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of the residents. She implemented supportive services when needed while helping the residents gracefully age in place.

Prior to her tenure at Wilentz, Sharon was a geriatric social worker/case manager for both Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey and Jewish Family and Counseling Service of Bayonne, Jersey City and Hoboken.

Contact Sharon via email at sharonc@JewishFamilySvc.Org

Jennifer Walters, LCSW

Jennifer Waters

Jennifer Ellis Walters received a Bachelors in Social Work from James Madison University and a Masters in Social Work from Rutgers, The State University with a specialty in Children and Families. Through her work in mental health agencies and school programs, Jennifer has provided psychotherapy services to individuals, families, couples and groups.

Her experience includes work with individuals suffering from anxieties or mental illness, struggling to adjust to life changes and recovering from traumas. Jennifer also has extensive experience helping clients on the autism spectrum and with special needs to better understand their strengths and limitations and more effectively communicate and function in relationships with others.

In addition, Jennifer collaborates with caregivers to help them understand and improve difficult behavior in children. Jennifer's approach is humanistic and interpersonal with a strong focus on strengths, family systems and a psychodynamic understanding of a person's condition as well as the social/interpersonal context.

Contact Jennifer via email at JenniferW@JewishFamilySvc.Org

Florence Zevin, LCSW

Florence Zevin

Florence Zevin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who works with individuals and couples ranging in age from adolescence to senior adults. Florence utilizes a strengths based approach to therapy which encourages individuals to identify their core strengths and use them to make positive changes in their life.

Florence has been trained in various therapeutic techniques including psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, mindfulness and motivational interviewing. In addition, she has experience working with the LGBT community. Florence has worked as a psychotherapist for over nine years following an earlier career in information technology.

In addition to her MSW, Florence also has an MBA which combined with her previous career provides her with a unique background supporting her ability to relate to people from all walks of life. In addition to her work at JFS, Florence also works as a Per Diem Therapist in the Inpatient Psychiatric unit and Partial Hospitalization Program at Robert Wood Johnson Somerset Hospital.

Contact Florence via email at florencez@JewishFamilySvc.Org

Eric Harris, LCSW

Eric Harris

Mr. Harris has been the Executive Director of Family and Community Services of Somerset County since 1994. He started as an MSW intern at Family and Community Services in 1980. He was then hired as a full-time clinician.

A few years later he also became a clinical supervisor. He also served as the agency’s Clinical Director for a few years prior to becoming the Executive Director. Mr. Harris has served on many Somerset County Commissions and Committees for many years as a representative of Family and Community Services.

Mr. Harris received his MSW from Rutgers School of Social Work in 1981. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

His areas of expertise include stress management, parent effectiveness, depression and anxiety, domestic violence, marital and other couples work, children and adolescents.

Contact Eric via email at EricH@JewishFamilySvc.Org

Young-In Shin, MSW

Young-In Shin

Young-In Shin, MSW, is the coordinator for the Family Mentor Program that connects families and volunteers in a supportive relationship to help strengthen families.

Young-In has B.A. in Public Health and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from New York University.

She has years of experience advocating for children and families involved with Family Court and supervising volunteers in New York City.

Young-In also has experience in providing intensive in-home therapy to youths and families.

Young-In is excited to join JFS to work collaboratively with families and focus on strengthening relationships.

Contact Young-In via email at Young-InS@JewishFamilySvc.Org

Maris Chavenson, LCSW

Maris Chavenson

Maris Chavenson, LCSW, is the Coordinator of our Senior Mentor Program, a volunteer visiting program that matches volunteers to homebound, frail seniors in the community.

She received her Bachelor's degree from Temple University and her Master's degree in Social Work, with a certificate in aging services, from Rutgers, the State University. As a clinical social worker Maris works with adults, couples, older adults, and groups on issues such as depression, anxiety, grief and loss, and the challenges of caregiving.

Most recently she was the project director at Jewish Family Service of Central NJ for a Federal grant program designed to provide innovative, trauma-informed care services to Holocaust survivors and their family caregivers.

Maris also has a diverse background working in non-profit human resource management as well as public health, where she coordinated programs for the NJ statewide asthma coalition at the American Lung Association in New Jersey.

Contact Maris via email at MarisC@JewishFamilySvc.Org

Debra Rimmer, LCSW

Debra Rimmer

Debra Rimmer, LCSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in NJ and Texas. She received her (BSW) Bachelor in Social Work from SUNY/Albany, and Masters degree in Social Work (MSSW) from the University of Texas/Austin.

Throughout her 20+ year career as a Social Worker in the US. and Canada, Debra has worked with clients who have a variety of life challenges including mental health issues, adoption, post adoption, critical and chronic illness, dementia, abuse, anxiety, depression, stress, trauma, compassion fatigue, grief and loss and pet loss/bereavement.

She has been employed as a clinician,caseworker, supervisor, director, and middle manager in many Social Service agencies, and at a private rehabilitation hospital. She has also created and facilitated a pet loss and bereavement group in Austin, Texas.

Debra provides supportive counselling for youth, adolescents, families, adults, and elder adults. She is highly skilled, and works with her clients with a compassionate,kind,and strengths based approach- striving to first understand their perspective, and then support and empower them to work towards comfort with growth and change. Additionally, she is a certified Compassion Fatigue educator and believes that it is essential to take time to care for ourselves if we choose the sacred responsibility of helping others.

Contact Debra via email at DebraR@JewishFamilySvc.Org

Marjorie Slass, Psy.D.

NJ Licensed Psychologist #6062

Marjorie Slass

Dr. Slass earned her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Rutgers University along with a degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. After spending several years teaching children she gave up her teaching career to raise three children.

Later on, Dr. Slass went back to school earning a Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Farleigh Dickinson University, a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology from Kean University, and a Doctoral Degree in Clinical and School Psychology from Kean University.

Dr. Slass has been working at Jewish Family Service of Somerset, Hunterdon, and Warren Counties since 2016. She provides psychotherapy services to children, adolescents, adults of all ages, couples and families helping them with life's challenges.

Contact Marjorie via email at MarjorieS@JewishFamilySvc.Org