The PAS community is grateful to have social worker Suzanne Redlich, LCSW, on the synagogue's professional team.
In her role, Suzanne assures that our community has consistent support for spiritual and mental health needs.
The idea of hiring a full-time social worker was explored by the PAS Social Work Task Force in 2022. The task force, including Suzanne Aisenberg, Diane Hess, Heather Baker, Stephanie Levey, Marlene Muskin, Roxana Tetenbaum, Rabbi Neil Zuckerman as Clergy Liaison, and Paula Gendel as Board Liaison, began the search in spring 2023.
“We felt there was an impending need to have a dedicated team member who could make sure congregants’ mental health needs were being met, especially as we continue to navigate challenges stemming from the pandemic,” says Rabbi Zuckerman.
The task force’s research and discussions indicated a need for congregant support beyond pastoral care, particularly among the elderly. The group sought someone to provide resources to members for referrals, support, outside services, and programing including elder aid, bereavement, mental health, dementia, and addictions.
“I want to be someone the community can turn to for big problems or small ones, somebody who can serve as a generalist,” says Suzanne, who joined the PAS team in September. “I have a breadth of knowledge and resources in New York City, and my goal is to be integrated into the community and let people know they can reach out. I’m confident I’ll be able to offer something to everyone.”
She will work with clergy and synagogue lay leaders to determine the tools and strategies that will be most helpful to the community. Suzanne, a Massachusetts native, came to New York City in 2016 to pursue a master’s degree in social work at Hunter College. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Suzanne has set up a support group for members 18 years and older who have loved ones in Israel. If you would like to join, please check our website.
“I am pleased to provide a warm community, where we can gather and share emotional support for our members during this difficult time,” she says. “In the future, I will continue to expand the groups .”
Before joining PAS, Suzanne was a clinical coordinator for the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Mobile Crisis Team and Comprehensive Psychiatry Emergency Program and a wellness counselor with New York University’s Counseling and Wellness Department.
“Early on in my career, it was helpful to get rigorous training in a psychiatric emergency room,” she says. “Although this is a different setting, some of the work I’m doing isn’t so dissimilar. The goal is to help people feel more connected, more supported, and lead happier, more robust lives. I’m excited to develop long-term relationships with our members.”
Her counseling will include phone conversations and in-person meetings with individuals and groups. She also will partner with PAS departments to offer programming and workshops. Sessions are confidential, and she will offer short-term counseling. Suzanne will refer congregants who need ongoing one-on-one therapy to appropriate agencies or providers.
“There’s a lot of crossover between pastoral care and mental health,” she says. “Mental health influences how we socialize and impacts our connections – through my role, I’d like to help people who are struggling to connect and to feel more at home. My hope is to work in tandem with the clergy to help people get the support they need to enjoy the community more and lead richer lives.”
Suzanne, a Peloton enthusiast and city-street bicyclist who tends to more than 100 plants in her apartment, is “looking forward to serving this community as someone who is Jewish – it’s near and dear to my heart to be of service and build relationships with people long term. I’m here to be a resource to all, and I want to work with anyone who is open to support.”
Suzaanne can be reached at SRedlich@pasyn.org or 212.369.2600 x105.