Rabbi Allen Juda has been President of the Jewish Family Service Board of Directors since 2017, more years than any other President since I arrived at JFS in 2012. To encapsulate the whole story of what Rabbi Juda’s service has meant to JFS, and what his leadership has meant to me personally, is an honor.
A great facilitator of meetings, Rabbi welcomes presenters from JFS staff, our Jewish community, and the greater Lehigh Valley. He is invested in mentoring younger board members and providing leadership opportunities. Under his leadership, we have completed two strategic plans, which have been the road map for agency development and growth. Passionate about the needs of older adults, he has advocated for programs and services to support healthy aging in the community including the successful Mazel Meals program. Rabbi has been instrumental in supporting disability awareness by making the JFS building more accessible, supporting JDAIM education and programming, and the hiring of our Accessibility and Inclusion Coordinator, Amanda Thomas, Ph.D.
What you may not know about Rabbi Juda is that he is a gardener extraordinaire, contributing his own fresh produce to the Food Pantry. He knows his way around every nook and cranny of JFS, from the basement to the outside of the building. Under Rabbi Juda’s leadership, JFS improved our security monitoring, upgraded our technology, and expanded the footprint of the Food Pantry space which included the addition of a new freezer and two refrigerators.
With five fundraisers under his belt, Rabbi Juda was instrumental in the coordination of pre-pandemic brunches honoring incredible older adults as well as two pandemic fundraisers ‒ the Great JFS Food Fest Faire and The Great JFS Happy Hour. He has initiated a vision for the JFS 50th Anniversary this year.
An amazing editor, rarely does a misspelling or comma go unnoticed under Rabbi Juda’s watchful eye. He meticulously reviews our website and is highly invested in collaborating with the marketing department to strengthen the JFS brand and expand our reach. Looking at the growth of JFS over these past four years, there is no doubt he accomplished the goal of more outreach across the Lehigh Valley.
I want to also acknowledge Rabbi’s wife, Toby Juda, for supporting the work and all the hours Rabbi Juda has devoted to JFS. A professionally trained social worker, she understands the social service world, and has advocated behind the scenes for JFS. Rabbi also incorporates guidance from the Juda “kiddos,” who have been generous in their support of the agency.
On a personal note, I value Rabbi Juda for his consistent guidance, compassion and appreciation of what we do at JFS. While we may not always agree on his point of view, he never holds back on articulating his thoughts. I appreciate both sides of Rabbi Juda, his lighter side and his no-nonsense way of expressing his beliefs. Having lost my dad who was a Rabbi around the time when Rabbi Juda became JFS President, I appreciated his Rabbinical wisdom and attentiveness to what I was experiencing.
Rabbi Juda can be hilarious. He loves the sports world and his analogies between sports management and JFS management are quite striking. Rabbi Juda and I share our passion for a really good cup of coffee, Zabar’s (especially the sable which has become so pricey), grandchildren, and Jewish community.
It’s been a privilege to work with Rabbi Juda as JFS President and I will miss him in this role. I am confident that he will continue to do good and he will be forever connected to JFS.