Even in this Information Age — when just about everything is a keystroke away — sometimes we all could still use some help finding what we need. That’s what our in-house Jewish Information & Referral Service was for: It was a direct line to an expert who can field your questions about the Jewish communities of Greater Philadelphia.
“I’ve had a dozen requests today,” says Jewish Information & Referral Service Director Linda Roth, who last year fielded 3,530 inquiries. The requests run the gamut. People call seeking aid for basic needs. Parents call looking for camp scholarships and information about Jewish education. Job-hunters call for resume help or professional development services. People ask about legal aid, or programs for individuals living with disabilities, or support groups, or synagogue information. “Lately we get a lot of calls from people interested in their genealogy,” says Linda.
Linda worked to connect each person to the right information or organization. Some requests require more research than others — like the person who wanted to donate a trove of Yiddish books. “I found an organization in New York that would take them, and another in Massachusetts!” Linda says brightly. Other requests are easier, like Greater Philadelphia newcomers looking to connect with the Jewish communities; Linda would send them a “Shalom Packet” of information.
Linda herself was once among those seekers: Thirty years ago, as a new transplant to the area wanting to link to a Jewish community, she cold-called the Jewish Federation and asked to volunteer. “And they referred me here!” she says with a laugh, before her phone begins to ring again. It’s someone who had previously called to ask about affordable housing, thanking Linda for sending him a “Senior Sourcebook,” which includes information on senior housing options. “Good, I hope you do find it useful, that’s what I’m here for,” says Linda, as she picks up a pen. “Now, is there anything I can help you with today?”