Actor Richard Dreyfuss at ‘Reflections of Hope’

Marleen Forkas, Richard Dreyfuss

Marleen Forkas and Richard Dreyfuss

BOCA RATON, FL – Academy-award winner Richard Dreyfuss was the keynote speaker at the inaugural Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service’s “Reflections of Hope” luncheon.

The program was aimed at breaking the stigma of mental illness and supporting the comprehensive mental health assistance offered by Jewish Family Service.

Dreyfuss, star of “American Graffiti,” “Jaws,” “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and many other films, has bipolar disorder and shared his personal experiences with about 450 guests at Boca West Country Club.

Arthur Benjamin, Judi Donoff

Arthur Benjamin and Judi Donoff

Deborah Steinberg, Judi Donoff and Nancy Schiller co-chaired the sold-out event.

“As the daughter of a schizophrenic mother and the mother of a schizophrenic daughter, I felt early and learned deeply the stigma and challenges of mental illness,” said Schiller, who, along with her daughter, Lori Jo Baach, spoke at the luncheon.

“With new medications, after nine years my daughter returned to society as a counselor to the recovering mentally ill, successful author and happy human being.

“To give back, my husband and I helped found the Welcome Home Program at JFS, where adults with mental illness can gain skills and support in a therapeutic, caring, creative setting,” she said.

Deborah Steinberg, Nancy Schiller

Deborah Steinberg and Nancy Schiller

Two Welome Home participants also spoke at the event on Feb. 21, 2013.

Marleen Forkas sponsored the program, which was also supported by the Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation, Ticho Foundation and Alison and Mitch Robbins.

Corporate sponsors were Wells Fargo Private Bank and TEVA Pharmaceuticals, as well as the Boca Raton Resort & Club and Boca Raton Observer.

The luncheon also featured a raffle of donated luxury items.

“As recent news events have shown, the risk of ignoring mental illness in our community can have devastating results,” said Donoff, who is also vice chair of financial resource development for Jewish Family Service.

Barbara and Jerry Lewin, Erika Lewin-Harris

Barbara and Jerry Lewin, Erika Lewin-Harris

“We are extremely grateful to those whose generosity has enabled this important new opportunity to raise awareness and vital funds for mental health,” she said.

The Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service of South Palm Beach County is a non-profit, non-sectarian agency providing a range of services, including food and financial assistance, senior services, counseling and mental health services as well as many volunteer opportunities. Funding is provided by private and corporate support, grants, special events and individuals.

For more information, visit, call (561) 852-3333 or e-mail

Photos by Jeffrey Tholl Photography.


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