JFNA launches initiative to help recently unemployed Jewish professionals

The new website offers information about financial relief from the government and Jewish community sources, and the International Association of Jewish Free Loans, which provides assistance.

The Marlene Meyerson JCC closed in March and laid off or furloughed 72 staff members last week. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)
The Marlene Meyerson JCC closed in March and laid off or furloughed 72 staff members last week.
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
WASHINGTON – Approximately one-fifth of Jewish-community professionals have been laid off or furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Jewish Federations of North America.
This week, JFNA and JPRO, a network of Jewish-community professionals, launched a new online platform called Rise to provide financial tools and career guidance for Jewish-community professionals.
“One of the real tragedies of this pandemic has been the number of people in our community who have lost their jobs,” JFNA CEO Eric Fingerhut told The Jerusalem Post.
“It has taken a particular toll on those who work in nonprofit organizations, all of which are completely dependent on charitable giving,” he said. “The numbers [of layoffs] are as high as 20% of our Jewish communal workforce in North America.”
The JFNA feels a particular obligation and responsibility to help those who have lost their jobs within the Jewish communal setting, Fingerhut said.
“We also know this will have a tumbling effect, because if someone is laid off from JCC, maybe they then can’t afford to pay their day school, or they can’t afford to send a kid to camp, and then the camp is struggling,” he said. “We’re so interconnected in our Jewish communal life that this is a particular area of concern.”
Eric Fingerhut (Credit: Courtesy)Eric Fingerhut (Credit: Courtesy)
The new website offers information about financial relief from the government and Jewish community sources. The International Association of Jewish Free Loans provides emergency assistance.
“Jewish charitable resources differ from community to community,” Fingerhut said. “There are free loans in many communities. There’s financial assistance available in many communities.”
In addition, professionals could also access fully subsidized sessions of career coaching and connect with hiring managers. Unfortunately, not everyone could return to their previous job, Fingerhut said, adding: “You have to have jobs that just don’t exist [right now, such as] people who run the gyms, for example, people who manage travel.”
In partnership with the Network of Jewish Human Services Agencies, Rise offers webinars designed to help with job hunting, write resumes and interview virtually.
“We know that the loss of a job is one of the most emotional and challenging, stressful events in somebody’s life,” Fingerhut said. “And so we need emotional support, counseling, mentorship, and that’s part of it. A lot of these jobs, people are going to have to switch careers. We can’t promise that the job is going to come back to the same field that you were in before. Therefore, jobs career counseling and career assistance are critical.”
UJA-Federation of New York was one of the early funders of the new initiative.
“UJA has a longstanding commitment to supporting the professionals who work in our Jewish nonprofit sector,” CEO of UJA-Federation of New York CEO Eric S. Goldstein told the Post in a statement. “The Rise program career services are led by extremely talented and experienced coaches who will help many in the field identify and prepare for new career opportunities.”