IMPACT-Emergency Relief

Focusing on Health & Safety

Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh


As the spread of COVID-19 continues, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is focusing on health and safety. All Jewish agencies and synagogues are planning with an abundance of caution to protect vulnerable people in the community.

Federation supports a coordinated response to the recent outbreak of coronavirus in the United States by convening agencies across Jewish Pittsburgh. Together with our partner agencies, local organizations and congregations, Jewish Federation is trying to slow the virus’s spread and to maintain essential functions in the event of a local outbreak. Jewish Federation is:

  • Bringing together organizations to speak with experts and to share best practices;
  • Working closely with local first responders and elected officials to monitor both health and security;
  • Increasing cleaning in the Jewish Federation’s offices and preparing for the possibility of remote work;
  • Putting into place new protocols for visitors to our offices to limit people who are sick or who have traveled to countries with concentrations of coronavirus cases.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh continues to monitor the spread of the coronavirus closely. Although many of us are limiting interactions to enhance safety, we are still Stronger Together.


We regret to inform you that we have postponed or canceled all upcoming events through the end of Passover, April 16. We do so with an eye to Judaism’s foundational teachings about the preservation of life. Our staff will be working on the communications to those attending each program and communicating directly with them shortly.

Other organizations will make their own decisions about the safety of holding upcoming events and will continue to work on and implement their own emergency responses. Our topmost concern is the safety and health of the people in Jewish Pittsburgh. We are especially mindful that otherwise healthy adults and children could spread this illness to the most vulnerable populations among us.

Please let us know if you have any questions. Thank you for your understanding during this period of uncertainty.


Jewish Federation continues to update resources that can help you to understand how to keep yourself safe, what to do in the event of an outbreak and which Jewish agencies are available to help. Agencies in Jewish Pittsburgh offer not only physical health resources but also mental health counseling, financial support for people experiencing hardships due to the virus, supports for homebound seniors and other resources. Keep up-to-date at on this site.

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Israel Trauma Coalition Publishes Advice for Parents and Caregivers Dealing with Coronavirus

Israel Trauma Coalition
Israel Trauma Coalition

Advise for parents/caregivers in light of concerns raised by the Corona epidemic:

Dear Parents/Caregivers,

We are witnessing the spread of the Corona epidemic around the world and at this stage; it is unclear what effect this will have on all of us. At present, routine in most places in the country continues, but we must prepare for a change in the situation. The virus is a new kind of concern, not something we are used to dealing with and therefore can cause stress and affect our emotional state and that of our children.

We want to increase the ability to cope with this stress and strengthen our resilience. The two main causes of stress are uncertainty and feelings of helplessness.

To reduce uncertainty, relevant information should be provided and tailored to each child’s developmental stage.

To cope with feeling helpless, one must improve one’s sense of self-reliance. This can be achieved in two ways:

1. Maintaining your routine
2. Encouraging activity

As parents/caregivers, you are the most important source of support for your child during times of crisis. Because of this, it is important that you are attentive to signs of distress, provide support and convey confidence.

First, the Ministry of Health’s updated guidelines must be followed. You can find them on line.

Here are some practical tips to help you and the children in your care cope with the situation:

Adopt two requisite rules that are suitable for children of all ages:

1) Don’t withhold: You have to create an atmosphere of sharing, no secrets, and talk about everything and allow them to ask any questions. Conversely, if parents/caregivers stay huddled together children realize that something dangerous is happening and that the adults are hiding something from them.

2) Don’t inundate: If a parent/caregiver feels overwhelmed with worry or stress, they must first take care of themselves. It is permissible to talk about things that concern us but only if we are able to speak about how we are coping with the concern.

Try to maintain routine – routine gives children confidence. Be sure to maintain regular habits, meal times and sleep time. Create opportunities for children to share their thoughts and questions with you. Play, find things that you will enjoy doing together.

Limit children’s exposure to news – avoid over-exposing your child to television news broadcasts and discussions. This is especially important for preschool and elementary school age.

Provide age-appropriate information – just tell them the truth, in a simple and reassuring way, without elaborating on the details. Provide the child with information and explain that there is a virus called Corona and that the government is taking measures to keep us all safe. Excess information can confuse children and cause fear and insecurity. Be attentive to the questions and content that engage the children and mediate the reality according to their questions. It is advisable to help the child distinguish between facts and rumors, which will help to control the situation. Teach them that not everything you hear on the street or write on social media is accurate and that the best thing is always ask your parents.

Increase your child’s sense of control and ability – teach them how to take care of themselves and their environment by taking care of their hygiene, covering their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing using a disposable handkerchief or elbow, washing hands with soap before eating and after using the toilet.

Here are some examples of activities that can be initiated: Ask the child to teach their younger sibling the rules of hygiene make a video or write a story that teaches children the rules of hygiene, prepare an ad with the rules for family members. That way the child will feel significant and a full partner in the prevention efforts.

Be aware of your reactions to the event – children learn how to respond to the situation by watching adults in their environment. The children will identify your stress level and respond accordingly.

If your family is required to stay in isolation:

We recommend listening to music and engaging in physical activity. There are many things you can do indoors such as dancing, jumping rope, playing catch and more.

Find fun activities for the kids: board games, drawing, reading books, etc.

You can practice breathing exercises and guided imagery with the children, which you can find on the Internet.

Distance Learning – you can connect to various teaching websites suitable to your community.

It is important to create a structured, consistent and activity-packed agenda for the children.

When should you seek professional help?

Powerful emotional reactions are normal in response to a crisis or significant stressful situation. In general, they tend to fade after a few weeks. At this stage, children and adults return to normal and normal activities. If emotional reactions persist beyond two weeks or worsen, significantly impairing the child’s ability to function in school / work / home, consider seeking professional help.

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Jewish Community Resources on Coronavirus Safety & Health

all of us globe

As of March 6, 2020 at 11:00 a.m., there are no reported cases of coronavirus in Allegheny County or in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community. Please check the Allegheny County Health Department for the most up-to-date information. The Jewish Federation has an initial statement that includes information about Federation-funded travel and missions.

Resources for the Jewish Community on Coronavirus Safety and Health

Jewish Federations of North America

Psychological Counseling Resources and Referrals
Jewish Family and Community Services

Oct. 27 Attack-Related Counseling: 10.27 Healing Partnership

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh continues to monitor the spread of the coronavirus closely with support from our national organizations and from local government. In making decisions about travel, our topmost concern is the safety and health of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, in our Partnership2Gether community in Poland and throughout Israel. Although we cannot know for sure what will transpire in the next couple of months, we want to proceed with caution and to plan ahead as much as possible.

As the central organizing body for the Jewish community, we have been in touch with our eight main beneficiary agencies to ensure that everyone shares contingency plans and best practices. Our Jewish Community Security team continues to coordinate with first responders and has been in close touch with the Allegheny County Department of Health. The Jewish Federation’s Jewish Life and Learning team has reached out to area synagogues. We are also reaching out to support other faith communities and diverse communities, building on our relationships through the Federation’s Community Relations Council (CRC).

Our eight beneficiary agencies—the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh (JCC), Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS), the Jewish Association on Aging (JAA), Jewish Residential Services (JRS), the Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center (Hillel JUC), Community Day School (CDS), Hillel Academy and Yeshiva Schools—are working together to ensure you remain safe and healthy with as minimal service interruptions as possible. Each of our agencies receives expert advice from one or more national organizations, and we also have guidance from Jewish Federations of North America. For overseas Jewish communities, we are in contact with our partners the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

The Jewish Federation typically funds or runs many travel opportunities to Israel and to other Jewish communities around this time of year. We have already postponed the CRC’s Alternative Spring Break college trip to Israel. We have not made a final decision as to whether other trips will continue as planned, but we will be back in touch as soon as we feel we can make an informed decision. Please see the landing pages for each trip for the latest updates.

Jewish Federation is the heart of Jewish Pittsburgh. We are here to help in any way we can, and you can rest assured that Jewish organizations here are doing everything possible to keep you safe, healthy and informed.

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Jewish Federation Announces Record Allocations and Grants in Year 2019-20

Stronger Together

Donors to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh will enable a record $36.8 million in allocations and grants to human services and community-building programs in 2019–20. The amount includes funds donated in response to the anti-Semitic attack of Oct. 27, 2018. The allocations, announced by the Federation’s Board of Directors, will support recovery efforts from the attack as well as human services and programs connecting people to Jewish life in Pittsburgh and in Jewish communities around the world.

Funds included in this year’s Jewish Federation distributions include the Fund for Victims of Terror (already fully distributed); funds for community resiliency and security; and funds that donors designated for mental health, memorialization and education. The distributions also derive from sources typical to past years: the Federation’s Community Campaign and Jewish Community Foundation, supplemental donor gifts, government funds secured with Jewish Federation assistance and a $900,000 human services block grant from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

“The outpouring of support from people from around the world helped the Jewish community to begin the healing process after last year’s attack. If not for the Jewish Federation, however, we would not have been able to organize so quickly to respond. The Community Campaign plays a critical role in leading this kind of community response year after year.”

Linda Joshowitz, Chair of the Jewish Federation’s Community Campaign

Allocation decisions are the result of a year-long planning process that engages volunteers and professionals with diverse expertise, backgrounds and affiliations. This year, those volunteers included civic leaders responsible for the Victims of Terror Fund and volunteers on the Jewish Federation’s Community Security Committee, which recommended security funding distribution that the Federation’s Board of Directors approved.

“This past year has been extraordinary in so many ways. We will be able to give the most funding in the history of the Jewish Federation, but we also have more community needs than ever because of the attack on three Pittsburgh congregations.”

Meryl Ainsman, Chair of the Jewish Federation’s Board of Directors

Total resources from all sources of support reached just short of $43.0 million, including the $6.3 million from the Victims of Terror Fund and $2.53 million in other funds that donors designated for community resiliency and Jewish community security.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh multiplies the impact of private giving by leveraging corporate and government dollars. The government dollars not included in the $36.8 million that the Jewish Federation allocated will enable a $15.4 million renovation at The New Riverview, a senior community; the Federation helped to secure and guarantee tax-credit funding for this renovation. Also not included in the $36.8 million total is money expected from the Victims of Crime Act of 1968 (VOCA) and the Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP) from the U.S. government’s Office for Victims of Crime. The Jewish Federation helped to apply for funding from these sources.

The Jewish Federation’s eight main beneficiary agencies will receive a less than 1% reduction in funding from the Community Campaign. Pittsburgh’s three Jewish day schools—Community Day School, Hillel Academy and Yeshiva Schools—will receive an additional $5.3 million for scholarships from the Federation’s fundraising through Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. This $5.3 million is the Federation’s second-highest year ever for EITC fundraising.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s eight local beneficiary agencies are:

  • The Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh
  • Community Day School
  • Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
  • Jewish Association on Aging (which includes The New Riverview, formerly Riverview Towers)
  • Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh
  • Jewish Family and Community Services
  • Jewish Residential Services
  • Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh
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Jewish Federation will Pay for Security for Pittsburgh Synagogues and JCC for the High Holidays

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s security fund will pay for armed security at area synagogues and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh for the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 30–Oct.1) and Yom Kippur (Oct. 8¬–9).

“Our community is very safe, but we understand that people going to Jewish worship services need to feel secure after the attack on three of our congregations last year and that many of our synagogues have taken on added security expenses. We want to be helpful to them.”

Jeffrey Finkelstein, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

A volunteer committee that allocates Jewish Federation’s security fund wanted to make sure that synagogues have security given that many people will be returning to Jewish religious services for the first time since the attack.

“We are working closely with police from municipalities across the greater Pittsburgh area to coordinate efforts,” said Brad Orsini, Director of Community Security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

The Jewish Federation does not currently plan to pay for synagogue security personnel for future holidays or events. However, the Jewish Federation’s Security Committee is working on several new community-wide initiatives to continue to increase the level of security coordination among Jewish organizations and synagogues.

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