At the same time, we are in the middle of our 2021 Campaign for Community Needs. If you have yet to do so, make a new pledge (payable by December 2021) or make a direct contribution, by clicking here.
Things seem to be progressing positively for a refreshing change. Vaccines have been approved and distribution is beginning. The potential for a new government stimulus package to help individuals/families and several of our Jewish organizations is on the horizon (though hoped it would be finalized by now). The Trailblazers just started their season. And so much more.
Despite the optimistic news, challenges remain. Many people still find themselves unemployed. Purchasing food and paying bills are harder for many families. Business owners and landlords have lost significant revenue, which impacts their employees and their families. We are not “out of the woods” yet.
Recognizing this, last Friday, the Jewish Federation took an unprecedented step in support of our Jewish communal employees by granting $118,000 to individuals working on the frontlines, those furloughed, and sadly, those laid off during the past nine months. I do not believe any other Jewish community in North America has done anything like this.
There was an article in this week’s Jewish Review
), but I wanted to share more with you.
The decision to allocate $118,000 for these purposes was not taken lightly. Typically, our funds go to the agencies to support their operations and programs. We have helped do an enormous amount for Jewish organizations through the COVID-19 Relief Fund and our annual allocations. The Board also recognizes that there are many in the Jewish community who work on the frontlines in the general community. And others who have been deeply impacted by job loss, furloughs, income reductions, business reversals, etc.. Funds and services are available for these individuals at Jewish Family and Child Service
and via our Jewish Free Loan
program. In addition, the Oregon Board of Rabbis
has food gift cards available. We cannot do for everyone – but we can do something for those working for our Jewish community!
Several weeks ago, a volunteer leader in the community approached me about doing “something special” for Jewish preschool teachers who meet in-person with children every day. The preschools provide an opportunity for the parents to work while their children are well taken care of. We explored various options and thought of an approach that would cost $5,000.
After further discussion with Federation leadership, we realized that there are others working in the Jewish community who may be just as deserving. Many are hourly employees who provide care and comfort to elderly on the Cedar Sinai Park campus and home health aides who work directly with Holocaust survivors. We also have our Jewish day school teachers, many of whom are meeting with students in person.
We looked at various options to acknowledge their work within the Jewish community. The Board granted $80,500 to provide up to $250 for each of these employees. It is one way to share our gratitude for being there for our loved one's day in and day out when we may be unable to do so.
Our leadership took this one-step further. Sadly, to date, over 150 employees in Jewish organizations have either been furloughed or laid off since March. The pandemic hit several of our agencies hard with shutdowns and closures. The Jewish Federation also allocated $37,500 to give $250 to each of these individuals to show our support. It is our hope that when things open once again, our agencies will be able to hire them back.
Here are some comments from various people receiving the funds, lay leaders, and agency executives:
- Your kindness to and advocacy for us during these crazy times is and has been amazing! I absolutely adore the work I do, so would do it no matter what, but the way you have shown support for us this year underscores how our community values us...thank you!
- Wha-wha-WHAT?! That is amazing and such a wonderful surprise and show of support for our amazing teachers!
- Thank you for thinking of us. I think of my preschool children all the time with a constant strong desire to be back in our energetic hallways and loving classrooms - with all our children together.
- There is a world of hurt going on in the Jewish community due to Covid-19 and even though the vaccine will eventually end this scourge, employees and their families are suffering mightily right now. This support is a blessing.
- It is truly wondrous to know we are in the thoughts of our community.
- Thank you so much for this effort. It will make such a difference for our furloughed employees and the dozens more in the Jewish community.
All told, close to 700 individuals (and their families) will be positively impacted by this support. We are blessed by and grateful for their service to our Jewish community. The interest, care, and inspiration they provide to their patients, clients, and students means so much. We could not do what we do without these wonderful people.
We have never done anything like this before. Let us hope global circumstances do not require us to do it again. As the adage goes, "You can never do wrong by doing right." I could not be prouder of the leadership of the Jewish Federation for "doing right" once again.
An early Shabbat shalom and best wishes to those who celebrate Christmas.