Jewish federations establish coalition to combat coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak has severely impacted the Jewish community, forcing many communal institutions such as schools and synagogues to shut down.

Jewish men attend morning prayer as they keeping distance from one another as part of measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, at a synagogue in the Jewish settlement of Efrat, in Gush Etzion (photo credit: GERSHON ELINSON/FLASH90)
Jewish men attend morning prayer as they keeping distance from one another as part of measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, at a synagogue in the Jewish settlement of Efrat, in Gush Etzion
(photo credit: GERSHON ELINSON/FLASH90)
An emergency pandemic coalition was established on Wednesday by eight major Jewish federations to aid the Jewish community's collective response and management of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the federations said in a joint statement.
The coalition is led by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), and includes the following organizations: BBYO, Hillel International, JJC Association of North America, Foundation for Jewish Camp,  Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, Moishe House and the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies.
The top priorities for the new coalition will be to identify and share the reality of the impact the coronavirus has on Jewish community, both in the short term and the long term; work to provide financial aid to Jewish institutions; coordinate each organization's resources and collaborate to support Jewish community professionals currently laid off or had less work due to the virus; and share other challenges and solutions.
The coalition members will meet regularly in the coming weeks and months. This will serve to ensure the coalition has proper communication; protects and supports professionals; develops and implements strategies to keep services to the community as much as possible; and preserves communal infrastructure.
“Working together and collectively we can achieve more than any one of us can do alone,” Mark Wilf, chair of the Board of Trustees of JFNA, said in the joint statement with the other coalition members.
“We are all being challenged by this crisis to sustain Jewish communal life in North America and it is heartwarming to know we are empowering and supporting each other to sustain Jewish life and the work we all do to help others at this critical time.”
“BBYO teens stand ready to apply their leadership and Jewish passion to the pressing needs of today and the future we all deserve,” said Ruth Suzman, board chair of BBYO, Inc.
“Moishe House is committed to supporting our young Jewish leaders in keeping their communities connected even while socially separated,” said Moishe House board chair Ben Lusher.
“Together with this coalition, we are dedicated to ensuring that they have the access, support and resources to continue building meaningful spaces for Jewish life within their own communities and with other Jewish young adults around the world.”
“Foundation for Jewish Camp is proud to be part of the collective, coordinated approach – which we need now more than ever – to help our communal ecosystem through this current crisis,” said Foundation for Jewish Camp board chair Julie Beren Platt.
“This collaboration will enhance our ability to serve local Jewish organizations across North America and utilize our combined strength, creativity, and dedication to navigate these challenging times.”
“Prizmah is the network for Jewish day schools and yeshivas, all of whom are working extraordinarily hard to deliver online learning for their students during this period of isolation.  As the impact of the crisis spreads across our community and its vital institutions, we welcome the partnership of this coalition, and the unified leadership of the Jewish world, in helping to mitigate damage and position our constituents for success,” said Prizmah board chair Yehuda Neuberger.
“In addition to the students affected by our work, Jewish day schools employ tens of thousands of individuals across the country, who will be substantially affected by the fiscal health of the day schools and yeshivas.  Working together, we can navigate this situation in ways that Jewish community and education will recover, flourish and prosper.”
“The social impact sector is the indispensable partner to government; putting into effect core services that sustain and strengthen communities,” said Networh of Jewish Human Service Agencies board chair Perry Ohren.
“For the Jewish community, that work is done, most often in unsung ways, by the member agencies of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies. Today, perhaps more than ever, the support and engagement of the full community; volunteers, Federations, foundations and advocates, is needed to sustain and strengthen these agencies.”
“Hillel International has an important role to play in supporting Jewish college students as they navigate this period of social distancing and isolation and to ensure Jewish life is waiting for them when they return to campus,” said Skip Vichness, PHD, chair of Hillel International's board of directors.
“Through this coalition, we will work with our community partners to support our professionals and students throughout this crisis, and to develop the resources, programs and tools that sustain Jewish life for students for the months and years to come.”
“We are in a critical moment when our communities need us more than ever,” said JCC CEO Doron Krakow.
“JCC professionals are at the leading edge of finding innovative ways to provide critical social and educational services during this crisis. We need to do all we can to ensure they can keep serving their communities. By coming together to coordinate our response across the Jewish community, we will ensure that we are not duplicating efforts or wasting resources that can best be put toward those most in need.”
“The Jewish community has historically overcome the greatest challenges only when we unite and work together,” said JCC board chair Gary E. Jacobs.
“This is one of those moments, when we in the JCC Community, along with the Federations, summer camps and so many others will collaborate to address this unprecedented crisis.”
The coronavirus outbreak has infected hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, and has severely affected certain sectors of the Jewish community forcing many communal institutions such as synagogues and schools to close down.