Jewish Federation’s second community webinar discusses our emergency fund, our first round of grants, and volunteer needs

On Thursday, March 26th, about 100 community members tuned in online for a virtual discussion about community needs during COVID-19, convened by our Jewish Federation. Our first second meeting included the following panelists:

Rabbi Annie Lewis, co-chair of the Board of Rabbis, gave a d’var about Rosh Hodesh, ending with a quote from the writer Rebecca Solnit about hope:

  • “Hope is not a lottery ticket that you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. Hope is an axe you use to break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door because it should take everything you have to steer the world away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures, and the grinding down of the poor and marginal. Hope is how you give yourself to the future. And that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.”

Sarah Solomon, Jewish Federation Major Gifts Officer, reported on the emergency work the Jewish Federation has been doing directly for our communities:

  • Our COVID-19 emergency campaign, chaired by Holly Nelson, has already raised $600,000 in its first week or so. We are so grateful for the outpouring of intial support. 100% of funds donated to the campaign will go directly to COVID-19 response. We appreciate any amount given, from anyone who wants to give; please spread the word and the link to donate: jewishphilly.org/covid19
  • The Jewish Federation Crisis Management Committee has already approved its first round of what will be many emergency grant allocations, to the following grantees (for further details on this first round of grants click here):
    • KleinLife - Meal Delivery program: $34,600
    • Mitzvah Food Program: $20,700
    • Jewish Family & Children’s Services - Critical Needs Grants: $25,700
    • Philly Friendship Circle - Critical Needs Discretionary Fund: $1,500
  • We are grateful for the volunteers who responded to the needs in our communities. Volunteers are still needed in a variety of roles, including delivering meals, packing meals for delivery, and phone-a-friend. For details about opportunities available and sign-up links, click here.

Dr. Michael Silverman, a local infectious disease specialist, gave us a primer on COVID-19 and how to protect ourselves:

  • The most important thing we can do right now is to limit our exposure to other people.
  • The most important precaution you can take while going out for essential items (for example, grocery shopping) is handwashing. Wash hands or use sanitizer before going to the store, during your shopping and then when you come home. While in the store, avoid touching your face, and try to stay 6 feet away from other people.
  • In the case of a positive diagnosis, someone would have a quarantine period of 7 to 14 days, after which they’re likely to be less infectious. For positive health care providers, the guidelines are to give yourself a three day waiting period after symptoms resolve, then another 7 day waiting period before going back to work.

Bat El Trabelsi, Jewish Federation’s shlicha, has been volunteering as a food delivery driver for Mitzvah Food Pantry, and shared her experience with us:

  • Our Jewish Federation serves a huge community of older adults, as well as a lot of food insecure people who come to our pantries. Both of those groups now need home food delivery due to the pandemic, so there’s a huge need for healthy delivery volunteers.
  • Bat El has found the experience to be easy and rewarding. She was given her delivery bags and a printed delivery route, as well as gloves. For safety reasons, all deliveries are now “no contact” deliveries, meaning the volunteer calls ahead, then knocks and leaves the bag at the front door.
  • “People are so grateful and happy. And it’s rewarding and feels good, I encourage people to do it.” Also pointed out that helping others improves our resilience, as pointed out by a video made by Israeli kids in our partnership region, which you can find here.

Liz Spikol, editor-in-chief of the Jewish Exponent, gave an update about how COVID-19 has changed our community newspaper for the time being:

  • Staff usually writes on the theme of “what is like to be a Jewish person in Philadelphia,” and right now life is largely about this virus. Trying to figure out the appropriate balance, in terms of coverage.
  • They’d love to hear from readers, and especially hear readers’ own stories: opinion pieces, first person essays about experiences with isolation, illness, etc. Contact Liz directly.

This Thursday, April 2nd from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., via Zoom and Facebook Live, join us for a Passover themed webinar. To register, click here. For more COVID-19 resources from the Jewish Federation, click here.

Read a recap of our previous call here and watch the recordings here.