Insights ~ September 2017

A Message from Our President

In the calm of SHALVA’s waiting room, clients often write gratitude messages to the staff. Bright Post-It notes cover a bulletin board. One such note reads:

“SHALVA is helping me see, accept and deal with the difficult reality behind my picture which no one else really sees or understands (even family). They see me and my picture and my reality. Step by baby step, working through the pain, difficulties and logistics, with hope and dignity, making life bearable, possible and even hopeful. A truly priceless chesed.”

I do not know this client – her identify kept confidential – yet, in a way I do know her, all of us do. She is one of us – she is our sister, friend, daughter, or mother. It is not often that we hear the voices of SHALVA clients – their real voices.

SHALVA is in the middle of a three-year “Journey to High Performance” project made possible by the generosity and foresight of the Michael Reese Health Trust. This outcomes-based project is helping to determine if we are, in fact, achieving our mission. As we analyze and evaluate our work, we look forward so one day we may achieve the strong and peaceful community of our vision. We could not carry out our mission without your support and we cannot be more thankful or proud to be a part of the Chicago Jewish community.

As we enter this New Year, may we all pledge our steadfast commitment to a community filled with peace at home and beyond. On behalf of SHALVA’s board, staff and most importantly SHALVA’s clients, we wish you a sweet and peaceful Rosh Hashanah.

Legal Program Helps Client Succeed

Clare was a SHALVA client during her divorce, and thought she was done with Harry when the divorce was final. She was awarded sole decision making responsibility and the majority of parenting time, but her maintenance award could be reviewed after one year. She did not expect that she would be vulnerable to Harry’s post-divorce efforts to bully and abuse her.

Clare’s maintenance was about to end, so she came back to SHALVA for help. Clare had diligently looked for another job, but could not find a job that would give her financial independence. She knew she needed to go back to court, but could not afford to hire a lawyer and did not qualify for free legal services.

Clare was reluctant to spar with Harry’s attorney but had no choice. SHALVA’s Legal Liaison helped her to understand what she needed to show the judge. Clare wrote a pleading based off a template the Legal Liaison provided. When Clare went to court, she asked the judge for a temporary order to continue payments, but the Judge denied Clare’s first request. Clare was upset, but the Legal Liaison gave her hope and showed her another way. Clare was able to put the case on an expedited docket, which would allow Clare to have another hearing before her maintenance ran out.

Clare and the Legal Liaison went back to work. The Legal Liaison spent many hours helping her to understand the legal process and what she needed to show in court. The Legal Liaison also taught Clare how to respond to Harry and his attorney. Clare was well prepared when she went before the Judge.

At the next hearing, Clare succeeded in getting maintenance continued. Clare felt proud and empowered. Clara was actually at ease in the courtroom, even against Harry’s formidable lawyer.

A few months ago, Clare called SHALVA to report that Harry had filed another vindictive motion against her, but she knew how to respond and how to conduct herself in court. Even more important, Clare is truly rebuilding her life.

This program is supported by the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan
Chicago, Jewish United Fund.


Donor Spotlight 

Carol Gaines is passionate about her commitment to the Jewish community and SHALVA is one of the organizations she supports.

“I give to SHALVA because it empowers women and teaches skills that affect women’s lives positively, as well as their families and children. SHALVA makes lives better.”

“Domestic abuse is not just a women’s issue,” she continued. “It is a community issue. I am particularly proud of the Legal Liaison program that helps women understand and navigate the legal process.”

Carol first became involved in SHALVA upon learning that domestic abuse was occurring in the Jewish community. She recalls being shocked. “People didn’t know that there was a need for support for victims.”

“I give to SHALVA because I care…You always hope that there will be a day that SHALVA won’t be necessary. But SHALVA needs to have a legacy of givers, so that survivors of domestic abuse know they are not alone.”

Carol said it was so easy to make this bequest. “When we redid our wills, we picked five charities to share in a legacy, and one was SHALVA. When I’m gone, there will be something left of me to help SHALVA continue its work.”

Inspirational Legacy Circle Recognized

SHALVA was honored to receive a generous $10,000 check from Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago for exceeding our goal of 18 Declarations of Intent for the Create a Legacy Program. We also received a dollar for dollar matching gift, up to $20,000 per donor, from an anonymous donor for each Declaration of Intent signed before June 30, 2018. We are delighted to acknowledge members of SHALVA’s Legacy Circle. A heartfelt thank you to the following for their generous support and leadership:

To learn more or to join SHALVA’s Legacy Circle, contact Carol Ruderman at 773-583-4673 or If you have already included a legacy gift in your will or estate plans, kindly notify SHALVA so we can thank you.


Shop and Support SHALVA

Shop with Kosher Kase for quality kosher food while supporting SHALVA. Kosher Kase offers fresh meat (including organic Kobe Waygu beef), prepared foods, bakery items, artisan chocolates, and wines, from Danziger Kosher Catering.

Add “SHALVA” in the Charity Code Box when creating your account and 5% of your total will be donated to SHALVA. At the end of the year, you will receive a tax deduction letter for the total amount of donations you have made.

Purchases can be made at or through their app (Google Play and Apple App Store).