Joe Berkofsky, Vice President, West End Strategy Team
NEW YORK, (March 25, 2020) – Eight major Jewish organizations led by The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) formed an emergency coalition today to help the Jewish community collectively respond rapidly and effectively to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on Jewish life.
Among the initial top priorities will be to clearly identify and broadly share the reality of short and long-term interruption of service to the Jewish community; work together to obtain both public and private financial aid to ensure Jewish institutions can continue to provide critical services; coordinate to leverage each member organization’s resources; collaborate to support Jewish communal professionals who have been impacted by layoffs or reduction of work; and share other common challenges and best practices in responding to the crisis.
The coalition, which will seek to assess the pandemic’s impact on the millions of people served by more than 1,000 member organizations, includes BBYO, Foundation for Jewish Camp, Hillel International, JCC Association of North America, Moishe House, the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, and Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools. The group includes the major national network organizations that focus on human services and education.
“Working together and collectively we can achieve more than any one of us can do alone,” said Mark Wilf, chair of the Board of Trustees of JFNA. “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.”
Meeting regularly in the coming weeks and months, the coalition will:
Ensure ongoing communication and information-sharing;
Develop and implement shared strategies to maintain services to the Jewish community to the greatest extent possible;
Protect and support professionals in health and economic crisis;
Preserve communal infrastructure through combined advocacy efforts, shared planning and resources, and coordinated fundraising.
Recognizing that there are additional critical networks within the Jewish communal ecosystem, JFNA has been and will continue coordinating with other Jewish engagement organizations and the denominational congregational movements.
“We are in a critical moment when our communities need us more than ever,” said JCC Association of North America 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. 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,” said JCC Association Board of Directors Chair Gary E. Jacobs.
About JCC Association of North America
JCC Association of North America strengthens and leads JCCs, YM-YWHAs and camps throughout North America. As the convening organization, JCC Association partners with JCCs to bring together the collective power and knowledge of the JCC Movement. JCC Association offers services and resources to increase the effectiveness of JCCs as they provide community engagement and educational, cultural, social, recreational and Jewish identity-building programs to enhance Jewish life throughout North America. By supporting the 25,000 Jewish communal professionals who connect with two million JCC participants each year—JCC Association encourages engaged lives of purpose and meaning.
About The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA)
The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) represents 146 Jewish Federations and over 300 Network communities, which raise and distribute more than $3 billion annually and through planned giving and endowment programs to support social welfare, social services and educational needs. The Federation movement, collectively among the top 10 charities on the continent, protects and enhances the well-being of Jews worldwide through the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedakah (charity and social justice) and Torah (Jewish learning).
Below are statements from participating organizations.
“BBYO teens stand ready to apply their leadership and Jewish passion to the pressing needs of today and the future we all deserve.” Ruth Suzman, Board Chair of BBYO, Inc.
“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. 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.” Skip Vichness, Ph.D., Chair, Hillel International Board of Directors
Foundation for Jewish Camp
“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. 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.” Julie Beren Platt, Board Chair, Foundation for Jewish Camp
Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools
“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. 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.” Yehuda Neuberger, Chair of the Board of Directors, Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day School
“Moishe House is committed to supporting our young Jewish leaders in keeping their communities connected even while socially separated. 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.” – Ben Lusher, Board Chair, Moishe House
Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies
“The social impact sector is the indispensable partner to government; putting into effect core services that sustain and strengthen communities. 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,” said Perry Ohren, NJHSA’s Board Chair and CEO of JFS Detroit