These past 10 days have been some of the most challenging ever experienced by our community.
In response, we are pleased to announce that the Executive Committee of Jewish Federation’s Board of Directors has approved the release of $400,000 to address the immediate needs of our local partner agencies over the next 30 days.
Many of our partners have been hit hard by COVID-19. Our Community Affairs team has been in constant touch with our partner agencies and communal leaders to assess the extent to which they have felt the impact, and how we can best help. Initially, the impact was due to restrictions limiting the size of social gatherings. As these restrictions expanded, we saw nearly every community organization close its doors, and increased need among vulnerable community members.
Acting quickly is important. So is accountability. Our Community Affairs team will be in touch with those agencies and synagogues eligible for this targeted funding to outline the process. We want to ensure that the process is not burdensome to our agencies, who are already overloaded, and that the funds are distributed quickly. We will be working with them on a reporting process consistent with those already established for other Jewish Federation grants.
These funds will address needs in these key areas:
Community members who were already vulnerable now need extra help. Individuals impacted by job losses will turn to the Jewish Food Bank for assistance. These funds will be used to increase the capacity of the food bank and other food distribution programs in our community.
Partners have seen an increased need for rental subsidies from community members who are unable to make their rent payments.
Older members of our community are among those who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. We need to ensure they have the support they need to stay safe, healthy and connected to community while they are self-isolating in their homes.
Families with children in Jewish day schools need help to keep their children enrolled.
With so many people out of work or in precarious employment situations, there is an increased need for subsidies for Jewish programs, Jewish daycare, Jewish summer camps, and for children to enrol or stay enrolled in part-time Jewish educational programs.
The Jewish supplementary schools require support to provide alternatives to classroom learning in order to maintain uninterrupted delivery of Judaic studies to the children and families they serve.
This is not the first time our community has faced huge challenges. After the economic downturn of 2008-2009, we took the prudent step of establishing more robust contingency funds to ensure we would be well-positioned to provide immediate support in the event of a situation such as the one we find ourselves in now.
We would like to thank each and every one of you who made a gift to the Federation Annual Campaign. You can feel very proud that you are playing a part in this response. Many donors also make additional gifts, above and beyond their Annual Campaign commitments, to support special projects in our community. Their generosity is also making this response possible, and we are deeply grateful to them, too.
We recognize that more and different support will be needed in the coming weeks, and we are already in discussion about what that will look like. We will keep you posted through emails like this and through our Shabbat Message.
Every time our community has faced a challenge, we have risen to the occasion together. There is no doubt the same will hold true now. While we don’t know all that the future holds, we are confident that together we will come out stronger in the end.
Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer