With a Little Help from My Friends


 A Message from Arlene Miller, President & CEO

Fifty years ago this summer, the Beatles released one of my favorite songs of all time, “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

What would you think if I sang out of tune
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song
And I'll try not to sing out of key
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
Mmm I get high with a little help from my friends

Mmm gonna try with a little help from my friends

It’s alright if you’re quietly singing along. Or maybe you’re belting it out already.  It’s great music. And they’re great lyrics, rooted in the idea that we all rely on our friends, whether or not they can carry a tune – which I know for sure I cannot! Truly, though, none of us get through this life without challenges or without needing some help from our friends, our family, or our community.

Our Jewish tradition tells us, “Kol Yisrael averim zeh la-zeh” – that “all Jews (the people of Israel) are responsible for one another.” We bear a broad responsibility for each other – to help whenever and however we can.

I’m often asked, “Why JFFS? What do you do?” – and there are myriad ways I can answer. But the core of the answer is always the same: it’s about caring. I care. We care. We care about building a vibrant Jewish community. We care for people in need, and our most vulnerable.

We care about people like “Joan” whose story was recently shared with me by our extraordinary staff. Joan is a survivor of domestic violence and the primary caretaker of her elderly mother (a Holocaust survivor). Facing financial struggles, she called JFFS for rental assistance which was reviewed and approved. When a JFFS Case Manager delivered the rent check to her apartment, she observed that it was completely devoid of furniture and essentials such as toilet paper, towels, and basic food items. The Case Manager immediately made a trip to Target to purchase needed items for the clients.

Several days later, the mother passed away and Joan did not have the funds to pay for funeral costs. The mother previously lived in LA so Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles paid for the burial costs. JFFS stepped in to cover expenses to transport the casket to an LA cemetery.

Now, Joan is participating in a JFFS Bereavement Support Group and she recently enrolled in the JFFS Women Forward career coaching program. She’s getting assistance developing her resume and her interviewing and networking skills. Joan is even utilizing the JFFS Silver Streak transportation service to get to appointments and interviews. And soon, Joan will be receiving financial coaching to help her build long-term stability.  The comprehensive services JFFS has offered Joan helped her through an especially challenging time – and are setting her on an entirely new and positive path in her life.

We must all take to heart our responsibility to look out for each other and lift each other up. May you too take the care to be a friend to others in whatever way you can. Because we all get by with a little help from our friends.

Shabbat Shalom,

 Alene Millier

 Arlene Miller




Jewish Federation & Family ServicesMission Statement: We care for people in need and strengthen Jewish life in Orange County, Israel, and around the world.


 Jewish Federation & Family Services
1 Federation Way, Suites 210 & 220,  Irvine, CA 92603

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