At the Jewish Federation, for 100 years we have taken seriously the sacred role of serving our community. This community has confronted many challenges. Our organizations are resilient. We have never failed to marshal the resources to do what is needed. We will do so again now.
Last week, we launched a community-wide crisis fund to help those impacted by COVID-19 with emergency financial assistance, mental health support, and to benefit our Jewish organziations. I am pleased to share that as of this morning we have raised over $700,000! Incredible! We are not yet at our goal of $750,000 so every dollar counts. Please make your own contribution.
We expect shortly (this is being sent at 9:00 a.m. and the vote should take place soon) for Congress to pass the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, a sweeping economic stimulus plan that we hope benefits individuals in our community, as well as our Jewish organizations. As the information gets further "digested," we will be working hard to make sure everyone maximizes the opportunity.
One request -- we are looking for volunteers who have experience with SBA loans and processes to coach and guide local Jewish institutions in how to apply for the funds. These funds are available on a first come-first served basis, so moving fast is absolutely critical. If you are able to help, please reply to this message.
How is everyone doing? This is the first real week of being told to stay at home. It is different! I just hope everyone is staying healthy and doing what Governor Brown has directed.
I must thank medical personnel, first responders, and those individuals working at essential businesses for all they are doing. They are working hard to make things better for each of us.
Others who are putting themselves at the forefront are our Jewish organizations. As is the case with the rest of society, our Jewish institutions are undergoing a “trial by fire” as our assumptions about the way we work have been turned upside down. Obviously, it is not business as usual. In fact, I am so impressed how quickly all our Jewish organizations have responded in so many new and different ways.
We strive to be a community where no one falls through the cracks. We will achieve this through rapid responsiveness; focused, systemic efforts; creativity and ingenuity in the face of new challenges; collaboration and partnership. We are working hard to take a community of communities and showcase that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
I am so inspired by the new and alternative ways we are fulfilling our sacred responsibilities to serve our community and our partners. Our Jewish community is redefining priorities, deliverables, and work, utilizing new technologies and alternative approaches to engagement and collaboration, and reimagining how to do things that we’ve been doing the same way for a long time.
And I am inspired by the leaders of our Jewish community. I have spoken with rabbis, school heads, executives, educators, volunteers, and others who are leading with energy and spiritual fortitude.
While we work to meet the challenges here in Jewish Greater Portland, we should be proud of our many Federation partners in Israel. As you may know, their restrictions are even greater than what we have here, yet they, too, are providing similar services. Take Dror Israel, for example, who has been working hard to:
- Provide childcare for children of critical workers in hospitals, police, and the IDF.
- Organize phone trees to reach those isolated in their homes
- Host online educational and family activities
- Deliver food, medicines and supplies to the most vulnerable
Earlier this week, we started our Need Help/Provide Help volunteer matching program. It has been a fantastic success with so many people contacting us. We have managed the multiple requests of people seeking assistance. At the same time, we have a tremendous number of volunteers ready to assist. In fact, in just a few days over 900 “assurance calls” have been made to seniors, and found multiple volunteers to pick-up pharmacy prescriptions, groceries, and other necessary supplies. One volunteer even told the person he is helping that he would purchase the groceries and hopes to develop an ongoing relationship with the family. Lovely!
If you know of anyone who needs help or if you or someone else wants to provide help, please click here.
Someone sent me a wonderful idea for children. Children can get an Israeli (or from anywhere else in the world) pen pal through Students of the World and Global Pen Friends. It might be something fun to do at this time and learn what other children are doing during these challenging times.
Let me conclude with this. Each of us has a part to play in flattening the curve, taking care of one another, and creating a community that stays resilient and strong at times like this. Despite the physical distances between us, we will work together and continue to focus on what matters — keeping our community safe, connected, thriving, and engaged, whether we do it with phone calls and text messages, virtual, shared experiences, or donating to organizations that we care about.
Yes, these are uncertain, challenging times. What is certain is that -- together -- we will meet the challenge. We will keep you apprised of communal needs, the ways we are helping, and how you can, too.
I believe that creating community takes hard work, and that few things in life are more worthwhile. While striving to help others, I discover the joy of becoming part of something greater than I could ever achieve alone.
Shabbat Shalom and stay healthy.