Jewish Family Services

Rabbi Maximillian Michelbacher inspired a group of women to form the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Association in 1849 in order to create community camaraderie. Through the 1860’s, the Association’s main objective was to attend to local community’s citizens in need of medical attention, a focus that continued well into the Civil War. A century later the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Association revised its charter and was renamed Jewish Family Services. The Daily Planet, originally named the Rap Center, was opened during the 1970’s in the Fan District of Richmond serving troubled youth. During the 1990s, Jewish Family Services assisted in resettling Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union and presently they maintain their historic

Jewish Family Services maintains a full line of services including but not limited to elder care services, family counseling, adoption management, and care management. At present they have a thirty member board collaborating in partnership with their 150 volunteers. According to their 2005 Annual Report, the organization placed 20 children in foster or adoptive homes, completed 38 home studies, dedicated 591 hours of volunteer time, and was able to utilize the Whitney Haynes Career Development Fund to provide free subsidies to clients receiving career counseling.

Although the center is maintained by the Jewish community, its services and programs are open to all members of the community “regardless of race, religion or circumstance.” In order to deliver their services, Jewish Family Services encourages a variety of volunteer options. “Friendly visitors” serve as companions to elderly citizens who live alone. “Telephone Reassurance Callers” call clients five days a week to offer a supportive hand to people who might not have anyone else to assist and encourage them. “Office Assistants” provide clerical services, such as mass mailings, front desk duties, and project coordination. “Circle of Friends Aides” are high school students who assist children with mental and physical challenges twice a month. “Consultants” assist Jewish Family Services leaders with decision-making, such as attorneys who offer legal assistance.

The Jewish Family Services’ community outreach programs are literally some of the best in the Richmond area. “In keeping with Jewish Family Services expanding its ability to serve more community members in different ways, the Agency has entered into an agreement with the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice to provide in-home treatment services to area Court Service Units.” They have also initiated WeeCare, which offers new mothers assistance before, during and after pregnancy. The Home Care and Skilled Care programs offered by Jewish Family Services have been re-accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

As the Jewish Family Services is a not for profit organization, it relies on contributions from organizations and businesses such as the Philip Morris Employee Fund, Sheltering Arms Fund of the Community Foundation, Wachovia Bank, as well as donations from smaller companies such as the Markel Corporation, Urkrops, and local citizens.

Jewish Family Services
6718 Patterson Ave
Richmond, VA 23226


Profile prepared by Margaret Williams
February, 2007



9614 River Road
Richmond , VA 23229
Phone (804) 740-7101 [ Second Baptist Church]


Recognizing the growing Brazilian community in the Richmond area, First and Second Baptist Church of Richmond, along with Virginia Mission Board developed plans establish a Brazilian church. Rev. Isaias Rufino was invited to serve as the pastor. The church was formally established and held its first service in April 2002, after Rev. Rufino moved to Richmond from Sao Paulo, Brazil; a country that is 80% Catholic. Services are held at a chapel in Second Baptist Church. Both the Brazilian Baptist Church and Second Baptist Church are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Rituals and Activities

Services are held each Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m. Currently all services are conducted in Portuguese. However, there are plans to have dual language services (Portuguese and English) in the future. During this time worship, prayer, offering, scripture readings, and a sermon from the pastor is the typical program for the day. The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is observed once a month. After the Sunday service, the congregation shares a light snack together and has a time of fellowship.

Additional activities are planned throughout the week, including:

  • Tuesday night Portuguese classes at 7:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday night prayer meeting at 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday night Bible study at 8:00 p.m. [different member’s house each week]
  • Saturday night youth group at 7:00 p.m.

The congregants of the Brazilian Baptist Church celebrate the traditional holidays of Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, combining both American and Brazilian cuisine at all holiday festivities.

Associated Units

Due the small membership size, and its close relationship with Second Baptist Church, the congregation does not have any associated units, but instead shares it resources with Second Baptist.

Programs and Outreach

The Brazilian Baptist Church has many outreaches geared towards the Brazilian community in the greater Richmond Metro Area. For the most part these outreaches are assimilation services, such as: airport transportation, locating housing, furniture, and employment; school enrollment; banking and DMV assistance; translating (in schools, hospitals, job interviews, etc), providing food and clothing; and teaching English as a Second Language to new immigrants. These services are offered to members and non-members of the church.

In conjunction with Second Baptist Church, language courses are offered throughout the week. ESL courses are offered on Monday and Wednesday nights, and Portuguese courses are offered on Tuesday nights. All classes are free and open to the public.

The members of the Brazilian Baptist Church also offer outreaches in the form of mission work. They financially and prayerfully support a Brazilian missionary who will soon be departing to serve in Europe. Together with Second Baptist Church, mission trips are periodically arranged. A ten-day trip to Brazil was coordinated between the two churches, with members of the BBC aiding in culture and language training for the Americans going on the trip.

Membership size and composition

The average attendance for Sunday evening worship is approximately 65. Average attendance rises to approximately 100 during the observance of holidays. Ninety percent of the congregation is Brazilian. There are a few (3-4) Americans who attend regularly as well as a few Spanish-speaking members. English-speaking attendance fluctuates. Currently, two families from area churches attend to learn the culture and language as they prepare to move to Brazil to serve as missionaries. Since the church’s establishment in 2002, more than 200 Brazilians in the Richmond community have attended a service.

Cultural Distinctions

In addition to celebrating the traditional Christian holidays, the congregation also celebrates the Brazilian Independence Day on September 7 th, marking the peaceful agreement reached in 1822 between Portugal and Brazil, establishing the independence of the country. Celebration occurs on the closest Saturday or Sunday to the holiday, with no special service being held. Discussing what independence means, praying for their country and its leaders, discussing the current situation in Brazil and singing the national anthem marks the day. Brazil also has the national holidays of Mother’s and Father’s day, which are celebrated in August. The congregation however, has chosen to celebrate both holidays on the American dates.

The worship atmosphere is very different for the Brazilian church, in comparison to other Southern Baptist churches. The service is much more contemporary. Members often wear jeans and shorts as opposed to the more traditional attire usually associated with a church service. There is no choir or pianist, but a praise group with many different instruments leading the music. Brazilian culture itself lacks the formality often seen in American churches. The members of the BBC are not comfortable with this formality and have thus made the worship experience distinctly their own.

Created by Rachel Everley, 1 August 2005