We hope you remain healthy and safe during this very challenging time.
Thanks to your support, the Jewish Federation has been able to respond quickly to the coronavirus pandemic. As events are evolving rapidly, we want to update you on important new actions the Jewish Federation is taking to help Jewish Pittsburgh navigate this unprecedented crisis.
Last night, our board of directors approved approximately $250,000 of grants for coronavirus relief. A board appointed committee of volunteers and staff allocated this money to address immediate needs for medical supplies, food insecurity relief, financial relief and additional staffing at our agencies here, in Israel and in Jewish communities worldwide. Hundreds of thousands of additional dollars will be available to address emerging needs in the coming months.
All of these efforts are possible in large part because of your support of the Jewish Federation’s Community Campaign. We must reach our Campaign goal of $14 million this year and urge you to give generously. A record-breaking Campaign will go far in addressing the unprecedented needs in our community.
Four additional ways your generous support has enabled the Jewish Federation to build community resilience and help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic include:
Mobilizing our community to help the vulnerable.
This week, Jewish Federation funded a new hotline together with Jewish Family & Community Services (JFCS) to direct people with crisis-related needs to resources that can help. Through e-mail and webinars from infectious disease experts, labor lawyers and many others, the Jewish Federation has provided insights and shared resources among Jewish agencies so they can continue to serve both their regular clients and the influx of new people affected by the pandemic.
Strengthening our agencies that support people in need.
Through our network of local volunteers and our national organization JFNA, Jewish Federation is helping Jewish agencies to apply for relief under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that the U.S. Congress recently passed. We have also converted some program-specific grants to unrestricted grants for agencies including the Jewish Community Center (JCC) to give them the flexibility to redirect funds where they are needed most.
Supporting Jewish institutions across our city.
In recent weeks, our planning experts have worked directly with our day schools, synagogues, and other Jewish institutions to gauge where they have the greatest need. While many have cancelled or shifted to virtual activities, regular updates from the Jewish Federation have helped these agencies navigate their staffing, financial, health and safety challenges. Jewish Federation’s Jewish community security program has also taken advantage of empty buildings to accelerate implementation of the BluePoint alert system that will immediately inform law enforcement and other Jewish organizations about critical security incidents.
Keeping our community connected.
As much of Jewish life revolves around community gatherings, the Jewish Federation has developed virtual learning and community opportunities to enable people to stay engaged. From classes by Jewish Community Foundation’s Rabbi Danny Schiff to young adult gatherings to the upcoming worldwide celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s independence day, we continue to develop new offerings that will keep us connected and mentally healthy.
While we have shifted to work remotely, we continue to operate at full capacity to deliver the services our community needs. During a crisis like this one, the Jewish Federation’s role as a vital community resource becomes crystal clear. We can make an impact due to our ability to mobilize quickly in response to new challenges, and our capacity to assess and to address the most important needs right now.
Wishing you and your loved ones good health at this challenging time.
Meryl K. Ainsman
President & CEO