JFS was created in 1979 as the first agency of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. Counseling services were initially offered by a part time social worker from a small storefront office on Federal Highway in Boca Raton. Eventually, offices moved to Clint Moore Road before relocating to the current campus in 1991.

Michael Rassler, Karola Epstein – President, JFS, David Gersh – Exec Direc JFS, Marianne Bobbick, Spencer Gellert – Founding Exec Direc JFS


Jewish Family Service becomes the first beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.


Jewish Family Service is renamed Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service.


Recognizing that many in our community can not afford to put food on their tables, JFS started the Forster Family Kosher Food Pantry which began with 32 families and served our community’s needs until 2012.


JFS became an independently incorporated 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, fully responsible for its program decisions as well as obtaining funding for all programs and services delivered to the community.


JFS responded to an important community need by implementing the Welcome Home Program Drop-in Center for the persistently mentally ill. The goal of the program was and still remains to assist those living with persistent mental illness to improve their life skills, social skills and employment skills. In 2010 the program expanded to include adults with developmental disabilities functioning at a high level of independence in community settings.


JFS won the Area Agency on Aging’s Outstanding Provider Award for dedication and excellence in serving seniors during Hurricane Wilma.

The results from the area’s first major Jewish population study in 10 years confirms that South Palm Beach County has the oldest Jewish residents in the country. Sixty-two percent are over 65, and 40 percent are over 75. Further, 81 percent of low-income Jews in South Palm Beach County are 65 and older.


In June the Agency received a three year grant from the Area Agency on Aging to be the Lead Agency in providing services to seniors and their caregivers in South Palm Beach County.


JFS hired a bi-lingual social worker and began a partnership with the Caridad Center, a health clinic in Boynton Beach. That year we also acquired land in West Delray Beach, adjacent to Temple Anshei Shalom in preparation for the development of a state-of-the-art facility for residents in the community members aged 60+.


The Agency received re-accreditation from the Council on Accreditation (COA). Additionally, JFS became accredited by Non-Profits First, a local accrediting agency. We also received a federal earmark for our “Stopping the Pain of Youth Depression” Program providing mental health services to the public schools.


The Agency broke ground on a new 12,000 sq. ft. center located in west Delray Beach. Funding for the construction of the project came from a grant from the Florida Department Of Elder Affairs, the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County and several local donors. The decision to build this facility was made following the 2005 demographic study which showed a large highly concentrated 60+ population residing in Delray Beach. Many of these residents live on fixed incomes and currently receive services from JFS.


One year later the Shirley & Barton Weisman Delray Community Center was opened. The center provides the perfect combination of social services with cultural, social, educational and recreational programs, and is run primarily through the use of volunteers.


In an effort to expand the agencies services to at-risk children and families in the community JFS added two part time case managers for families and children in crisis.


Responding to a growing need among divorced families, JFS trained their first parent coordinator to help high conflict families resolve issues related to the welfare of their children. In the fall, the food pantry was moved off campus to a new 2600 sq. ft. facility located at 430 S. Congress Avenue and was named the “Jacobson Family Food Pantry at JFS” with a generous gift from Anne and Norman Jacobson. The pantry provides bi-monthly food deliveries to over 500 individuals needing help with one of life’s most basic necessities.


Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service (JFS) announced at their annual Gala on December 12th that the Rales family, a highly successful and philanthropic family with ties to South Florida, made a generous $2.4 million gift to establish the “Center for Families and Children” creating four new programs at the agency geared to helping JFS raise its profile in serving families and children. Those programs include Career and Employment Services, Domestic Abuse Education and Action; Community Outreach and Financial Assistance for Summer Camp and School Readiness. In addition, JFS renamed the agency to include Norman Rales name to honor of his legacy of financial and personal support for the agency, and his commitment and passion for helping those less fortunate. The patriarch of the Rales family, Norman passed away in March of 2012.

Each year, JFS serves more than 15,000 individuals. The agency’s staff includes licensed clinical social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and case managers.


JFS receives a 4-Star Charity Navigator rating putting JFS in a very select group of high performing charities. The Conference on Material Claims Against Germany (The Claims Conference) significantly increases its support to aid victims of the Holocaust.


In March JFS is recognized by the Sun Sentinel as a “Top Place to Work” in 2015 and is recognized as the 10th best place to work in the small employer category. In June the agency started their “Rales Rides” bus service to the Weisman Delray Community Center as a result of a New Freedoms Grant.


As part of the Board of Director’s strategic planning process dealing with planning for the future needs of seniors living in our community, the JFS board approved the creation of a separate entity to be known as “JFS at Home” which would provide companion and homecare services to seniors living in our community. In April, JFS at Home received its license to operate in Palm Beach County from the Agency on Healthcare Administration and officially opened its doors for business in May. Also that year the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation made a second $2.4M grant to the agency to continue to fund the Rales Center for Families and Children.

For the second year in a row, JFS earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, and was once again named as a “Top Workplaces” in the small employer category by the Sun Sentinel.


In January JFS received news from the Claims Conference that their allocation would increase by $1.7M bringing the total program funding for our Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program from that source to $4.2M. As a result of continued growth, the JFS Board of Directors approved the leasing of additional space and a 4,300 SF space was secured in April. For a third consecutive year, JFS earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and was once again named a “Top Workplace” in the small employer category by the Sun Sentinel.


JFS hires our first Substance Use Coordinator and launches the JFS Community Awareness, Resources and Education for Jewish Families with loved ones with Substance Use Disorders (CARES) Program. The goal of this  program is to provide a central resource for the community and act as the connector for information and referrals services for families in need.  This program falls under the Center for Families and Children Outreach Department.


Throughout 2019 JFS celebrates 40 years of serving the community.  To mark the occasion, JFS establishes a “40th Anniversary Fund” to support current and future programs.  To kick off the fund and isnpire others to give, the Estate of Madeline (z’l) and Eugene (z’l) Pargh has generously made a $400K contribution to the fund and is challenging the community to match their donation.  At the 2019 Gala, JFS honors the legacy of Norman and Ruth Rales and their influence on the agency throughout its 40 year history.


2020 will always be synonymous with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Beginning in March, JFS pivoted our services remotely and was able to continue to provide our services in a modified form, including counseling and mental health.  JFS distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial assistance to people directly affected by COVID-19; increased the number of food insecure older adults who receive weekly home delivered meals; and absorbed several new households into our food pantry. In additional, those seeking employment and accessing community wide support groups were serviced through our Center for Families & Children.


In response to an unmet need in our community, JFS secures seed funding from the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation to launch a Therapy and Family Resource Center.  The program is an expansion of services currently provided to the community through JFS’ Special Needs Department by creating a “one stop shop” where all family needs can be met in one place. The objectives of the program are to provide children with varying needs and abilities affordable access to treatment and therapies that allow them maximum realization of their developmental, educational, and personal potential; equip parents and other caregivers with the necessary information and support to ensure a therapeutic continuum; and to provide the education and guidance needed to build stronger families. 


JFS continued to help those still struggling due to the pandemic, especially the senior and mental health community. Programming was brought in virtually, so members from the Weisman Delray Community Center and other seniors, could stay connected using “Uniper”, technology out of Israel, as part of a NJHSA grant. The counseling and other mental health services, such as psychiatry, in partnership with Florida Atlantic University and John Hopkins University, were lifelines to many who accessed services via telehealth. Volunteer services programs were revamped to better identify then match volunteers to appropriate groups, and implemented volunteer software to communicate and broaden outreach which improved the volunteer experience. The Toby and Leon Cooperman Therapy & Family Resource Center (Cooperman Center) opened in May after successfully completing a $4M Capital Campaign.