Gail was a part of the initial team who recognized a community organization like Kadima was needed and has used her clinical experience to offer her perspective on continued services and programming. Serving two terms, Gail was one of Kadima’s first presidents, and thereafter, held a joint-role with a fellow past president during a time of transition. She has been on the Executive Committee for the past 10 years.
Written By: Gail Stewart Berman
As a social worker for 14 years at Jewish Vocational Services (JVS), now JVS Human Services, I continually encountered the need for treating people struggling with chronic and persistent mental health challenges. We regularly saw people with psychiatric needs beyond our ability to address and who required far more services to meet their non-vocational needs. Many were living in inadequate housing with minimal support. It became clear that there was a gap in services within our Jewish communal agencies.
Through the Outreach Program at JVS, local retirees, including my father, began to meet with Jewish adults who had psychiatric needs who had long been disconnected from their families and roots. To bring them some sort of Yiddishkeit, or feeling of Jewish belonging, volunteers through their visits provided friendship and the opportunity for celebration of holidays and Shabbat.
As time went on and these connections were cultivated, it became apparent that these individuals would benefit from a home that would offer more opportunities to be part of the Jewish community. The concept of Kadima was proposed to provide enhanced housing, increased quality of life and hope for the future. Rabbi Solomon Gruskin, ZT"L, a staunch defender of people with mental health challenges, was a moving force in ensuring that Kadima would be embraced by our Jewish community.
My father became a champion for this group of people who had become so disenfranchised from their families and community. He, along with fellow volunteers Janet Aronoff and Rhoda Raderman among others, helped to actualize Kadima’s first home which is named for Rabbi Soloman Gruskin, ZTL”.
Back then, Kadima offered this underserved population a true quality of life and the potential for a hopeful future. Kadima continues its work today currently serving 140 adults with mental health challenges directly through our supportive housing, clinical and enrichment services. An additional 455 people are served annually through outreach and supportive programming.