Now what happens?

By Deborah Moon
To address the COVID-19 health crisis, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued a statewide "stay at home order" Monday in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The local Jewish community has mobilized – virtually – to mitigate the economic, social and spiritual hardships of individuals and communal organizations.
Under the “stay home, save lives order,” state residents can leave home only for essentials (groceries, medical care) or outdoor, solitary exercises such as hiking and biking, or to deliver food to those who cannot go out. Stay 6 feet away from others outside your home and connect via video and phone chats.
“We recognize this will have tremendous impact on our community’s organizations and individuals,” said Jewish Federation of Greater Portland President and CEO Marc Blattner. “We are here for you. Call if you need assistance.”
To address community needs, the Federation has initiated virtual calls with all the community organization executives and rabbis and has scheduled weekly calls with all agency presidents and executives. The weekly calls will give leaders the chance to inform each other about their challenges and to hear what others are doing.
“We are listening to the community about what is happening around us,” said Blattner.
The community’s COVID-19 Crisis Steering Committee has developed a process to allocate funds from the emergency campaign. By the end of this week, the first grant request forms will be sent to Jewish agencies and synagogues. Grant requests will be reviewed by one of six task forces (see below), which will prioritize requests and refer them to the steering committee. The steering committee will prioritize community needs and make final decisions on grants on a rolling basis.
Task forces each include leaders with expertise in the following areas:
• Emergency Financial Assistance/Mental Health Support
• Social Isolation/Friendly Reassurance (volunteer management)
• Jewish Organization Capacity/Support for Employees
• Religious/Spiritual Services and Needs
• Youth Programming/Jewish Educators
• Communications.
With synagogues and agencies closed to onsite activities, many are offering virtual services and programming. You can find an updated list of virtual offerings at
Here is one example of how funding is helping: Jewish Family & Child Service has hired a manager to oversee emergency fund assistance for emergency aid for individuals.
“These times are a test for all of us, to remember our Jewish commitment to Kehillah (community), to help with the needs of others who are less fortunate and to do the important job of taking care of ourselves, as well,” wrote JFCS Board President Larry Holzman and Executive Director David Block in an email to the community, which also urged individuals to support the community’s emergency fund.
Oregon Jewish Community Foundation, which joined Federation in creating the emergency fund, also encouraged its constituents to donate to the fund.
“The needs will only grow in the weeks and months ahead,” said OJCF President and CEO Julie Diamond. “Please join me in contributing to this new emergency response fund. You can give directly to Jewish Federation or request a grant from your donor-advised fund.”
OJCF donor-advised fund holders can recommend grants through OJCF’s donor portal or donate directly to the Federation.


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