Federation Responds to COVID-19 Crisis

On an ordinary day in our neighborhood, too many parents can’t put food on their tables, too many seniors can’t afford food and medicine as well as the aid they need to care for themselves at home; too many people with mental illness can’t get treatment.
 
This is no ordinary day.
 
Fallout from COVID-19 has put these everyday needs at historic highs and now the growing numbers of vulnerable people also include: 
mourners who can’t afford to bury loved ones;
kids in unstable homes due to parents’ mental health flare-ups;
people with special needs trapped at home without services; and many more.
 
Focusing on addresing basics needs for food and shelter, keeping the community connected to Jewish life online, and remaining vigilant to an even further spike in anti-Semitic acts and security threats, Federation is responding and rallying the Jewish community for financial support of our efforts. 
 
Jewish Federation partners with human services agencies to address food insecurity and mental health, but not simply by passing along dollars. Often, we can bring matching funds, national resources, and word of major grants to the community. Recently, we have been convening organizations more frequently to assess mounting needs and explore responses for greater impact.    
 
As the COVID crisis has unfolded in the heart of NJ and the pressing needs go unmet, Jewish Federation launched a COVID-19 Emergency Relief fundraising campaign. In addition:
 

(ADDRESSING WELLNESS & FINANCIAL NEED AMONG THOSE WHO ARE VULNERABLE)

  • created a volunteer matching program to help immunocompromised individuals with grocery and pharmacy deliveries; we recruited volunteers for a similar program just for seniors;
  • partnered with Hebrew Free Loan to support launch of COVID need loan program for individuals and small businesses and their employees; 
  • conducted a wellness series on Zoom, featuring COVID Answers with an infectious diseases physician and Coping with COVID Stress with a psychologist;
  • supported JTeam Teen Philanthropy members in pivoting to help those in need due to COVID-19;
  • mentored J-SERVE teens in reinventing their annual day of community service as a virtual mitzvah day with:
    • check-in phone calls to older adults 
    • thank you messages for healthcare workers
    • virtual babysitting playdates with PJ kids - and more.
(ON BEHALF OF JEWISH COMMUNAL ORGANIZATIONS)
 
  • advocated to include these local non-profits in the Federal COVID Stimulus bill, so they could keep more employees on the payroll to continue operations, programs, and services;  
  • shared access to our network of national experts on optimizing stimulus applications;
  • provided updates on financial information including:
    • Payroll Protection program
    • small business loans
    • grants;
  • convened weekly and bi-weekly meetings to help assess needs and provide support to
    • social service agencies addressing food insecurity
    • day school educators working in virtual mode
    • synagogue presidents, executive directors, administrators, and rabbis on their myriad challenges and best practices.
(ADDRESSING SECURITY FOR INDIVIDUALS & ORGANIZATIONS)
 
  • connected Jewish organizations to cyber security experts and resources, just as synagogues, schools, agencies, and cultural centers needed to switch to virtual operations; 
  • conceived a virtual, state-wide program on addressing bias;
  • together with neighboring Federations, created conversation starters on Preparing to Return to Work and Worship for Jewish organizations; 
  • developed tips for individuals and businesses to protect themselves from opportunistic frauds and scams involving online activities, finance, medical needs, and more, including: 
    • COVID-19 cyber security considerations
    • how to spot phishing email scams
    • protecting yourself on social media
    • video conference best practices
    • security with facility closures
    • Homeland Security tips to stop fraud.

(FOSTERING JEWISH LIFE ONLINE)

  • created the Jewish Life Online portal and resource page to keep people connected, informed, engaged, and supported;
  • introduced FRIDAY LIGHT weekly email with community highlights;
  • produced and promoted holiday commemorations and celebrations, e.g., for Passover, Yom Hazikaron, Yom Ha'atzmaut, Lag B'Omer, and Shavuot;
  • conducted a Main Event "teaser" event with keynote guest, Adeena Sussman, and several local foodies;
  • created a virtual travel series to Jewish heritage desitnations in Israel, Poland, and Morocco.

More than ever, the Jewish Heart of NJ is working together to make Jewish life stronger, safer, more supportive and sustainable through this difficult time and for many, many generations to come.

Those who wish to support this important work, may make a donation online or by calling 732-588-1800. If you increase from your last gift, or renew after a skipped year, a generous donor will make a matching donation. Thank you.

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