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Before You Go – Jewish Vocational Services Helps the Vulnerable

Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) was established in 1939 in Newark in order to help Jewish immigrants find employment, and to help ease the overwhelming transition of starting a new life in a foreign land. The nonprofit, community-based health and human service organization now has locations in East Orange and Livingston. 

Today, JVS’ core mission is the same, focusing on four distinct service areas including: vocational rehabilitation, career counseling, corporate training, and education and literacy. The organization’s services are available to vulnerable people of all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds, and help nearly 10,000 diverse individuals throughout New Jersey each year.

“We are here to help people find employment and find their independence,” Michael Andreas, acting executive director of JVS, says. “What we are trying to do is help people help themselves by enhancing their toolset.”

In the career counseling area, JVS provides clients with help writing and refreshing resumes, interview skills, networking, meeting with recruiters and more.

“The process of finding a job has not changed – it’s the tools one uses to find a job that are different,” Meryl Kanner, director of career counseling and placement services, says. “There is still an enormous need for one-on-one career counseling amongst all groups of job applicants, and JVS is a tremendous resource to meet that need.”

JVS has nearly 100 employees, including social workers and teachers who work face-to-face with clients, and subject matter experts for various corporate training focuses.

“JVS Corporate Training provides training to companies to help them upgrade the skills of their employees,” Kari Mager, director, business development for JVS Corporate Training, says. “Each trainer is a subject matter expert in his or her own field. Some of the topics we provide include: leadership, one-on-one coaching, supervisory skills, harassment prevention, lean manufacturing, six sigma, project management and computer training.”

“We also participate in a grant writing program with the State of New Jersey where we identify small- and medium-sized companies, and help write the grants for them so they can provide training to their employees,” Andreas adds.

The two other service areas JVS provides include vocational rehabilitation, and education and literacy.

“Our vocational rehab services are primarily focused on people who are on the Autism spectrum, especially adults who may have aged out of the public assistance area,” Andreas says.

He adds that the education and literacy services are aimed at individuals who are entering the country for the first time and need help learning English, or need help with adult basic education.

In all four areas, face-to-face interactions are important. Andreas cites this as one of the reasons for opening a new Livingston location last year, which expanded the organization’s reach by affording more geographical flexibility to clients so they can more easily interact in person.

“You learn a lot more about a person, what their needs are, and how to help them when you are face-to-face,” he says.


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