JFCS Goldie Feldman Service Building

The Sarasota Jewish Community expanded very rapidly in the early 1970’s. With that growth came the need to provide social services. A group of dedicated volunteers, many of whom were retired social workers, directed their energies to “helping the elderly”. As the needs of the community grew, it appeared that a more comprehensive organization was needed.

In the early 1980’s, a committee led by Sidney J. Berkowitz, a retired Executive Director of Jewish Family Service of Chicago, began the process of studying the feasibility of a local full-fledged family service agency. With the need demonstrated, Jewish Family Service became an autonomous agency with its own independent Board of Directors replacing the existing Jewish Federation Advisory Committee. Jewish Family Service was chartered, by-laws were developed, and Officers and Board Members were officially elected in July 1986. The first office for Jewish Family Service consisted of 250-sq. ft. of rented space.

On June 3, 1996, our name was changed to Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Sarasota-Manatee and a department for children and adolescents was officially launched.

In 1997, the Board of Directors undertook its first major capital campaign to build a permanent home for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. The agency experienced major growth and moved into The Goldie Feldman building on The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg campus on Fruitville Road in August 1999.  In November 2009, the 6,000 sq ft Schoenbaum Family Life Enrichment Center was dedicated providing a total of 14,600 sq ft of counseling and office space and meeting rooms at the main campus of JFCS.  And in January 2014 the Gloria & Louis Flanzer Campus on Ringling Boulevard consisting of 7,643 sq ft was dedicated to expand the agency’s counseling, education and social services.

The following is a list of the Past Board Chairs of JFCS who have provided the lay leadership to guide the organization over the years:

Sidney J. Berkowitz* Although not a Past Board Chair, Sidney facilitated the development of Jewish Family & Children’s Service during the early to mid-80’s

Gerald Engman* 1984 – 1987

Norma Gordesky* 1987 – 1989

Raymond Brown* 1989 – 1990

Mace Levin* 1990 – 1992

Eugene Friedmann* 1992 – 1994

Richard Blumenthal 1994 – 1996

Alice Taich* 1996 – 1998

Stacey Gillman 1998 – 2000

Eve Kommel 2000 – 2001

Charles Ackerman 2001 – 2003

Barbara Brizdle 2003 – 2005

Sue Jacobson 2005 – 2007

Bob Black 2007

Judy Cahn 2008 – 2009

Marie Monsky 2009 – 2011

Rich Segall 2011 – 2013

Joe Mendels 2013 – 2016

Steve Seidensticker 2016-present

*Of Blessed Memory