Heart of Matter - November 2023

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks to God for all the blessings of the year. The staff at JFS would like to share a family tradition and something they are grateful for.


Pam Kelner, Executive Director of JFS

Tradition- Every year since 2004, we take a photo of my kids and my nieces and nephews. They sit in the same order, with the youngest niece sitting on the oldest’s lap even though they are now 17 and 21! Looking at the photos and seeing how they have changed from year to year brings a smile to my face.

Grateful for- I am grateful for the ability to make my own choices. At the macro level, that means appreciating living in a country where I am free. At the micro level, every choice that I make has an impact on my life. We make choices about our health, about how we will spend our precious, limited time on earth, who we surround ourselves with-both family and friends and the outlook that we have in life. All these choices add up *hopefully* to a fulfilling life!


Toni Jacobsen, Clinical Director of JFS

Tradition- My daughter and I had set traditions for the holidays but since my father passed away a few years ago, we have not continued them. Losing someone from your immediate family can upset traditions if family members find it painful to engage in traditions without the deceased person present. We are still trying out new traditions, but so far, none have stuck.

Grateful for- I am grateful for the opportunity to work in the Nashville Jewish community. I am grateful for Rabbis, Educators and Agency Directors that get along and support each other. During my 23 years in the community as an Honorary Tribe member, I have felt loved and supported by the community. I have raised my daughter in this community and have personally grown emotionally and spiritually in the community’s embrace.




Ashley Franklin, Licensed Social Worker

Tradition- My family always spends Thanksgiving together- even if it has to be delayed a day or two because of kid's scheduling, celebrated in a different city, etc. We watch the parade, participate in some type of sport (cornhole is my favorite), and just enjoy eating too much food and catching up with everyone.


Grateful for- I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my daughter and family. I am also grateful for the ability to do work that I love, in this community, which has shown me so much acceptance and love!




Jamie Maresca, Volunteer Coordinator

Tradition – My family watches the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade together. My husband and I both marched in the parade when we were younger and like to reminisce with our daughters about our experience. We also play Macy’s Parade BINGO. Each BINGO card has boxes with pictures of balloons or floats that will be in the parade. The girls love being on the lookout for the balloons and floats on their card to get the first BINGO.


Grateful for – I am grateful for all the amazing and supportive communities to which I belong. From my immediate family to my JFS family who has allowed me to grow in my career and personally. And the Nashville Jewish Community that has welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to infuse my personality and interests into the Helping Hands Programs.


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