11 December 2020
This year asked a lot of you—and you responded with generosity of spirit and resources.
Over the course of the last several months, our community raised $5.2 million for Federation’s Jewish Community COVID-19 Response Fund. This allowed us to get help to many individuals and families who were struggling. People across the region faced (and continue to face) a decrease in work hours, pay, and savings and a sharp increase in stress, loneliness, and isolation. An estimated 6,000 households in the Greater Washington Jewish community anticipated being unable to pay for an emergency $400 expense. The contributions you made helped keep people afloat and our sense of community and connection intact.
Your trust in Federation also helped us put some of our fundamental beliefs into action. At the heart of who we are is a commitment to ensuring our community functions as more than the sum of its parts. Rather than letting individual organizations and the community members they serve weather the pandemic storm on their own, Federation focused on creating shared resources for organizations to use to guide their response.
We brought the leaders of Jewish agencies, organizations, and synagogues together to join forces in responding to the needs of their constituents. We were there with assistance to help organizations apply for PPP loans, resulting in an additional $25 million of support for our community. We launched clear lines of communication via surveys and research studies to understand what people needed most and how we could work with our partners to provide cash assistance, counseling, food deliveries, and more.
Perhaps most importantly, we worked with JSSA and several human service organizations across the community to establish a Jewish community support line. When you call 703-J-CARING, a person answers, someone who will work with you to ensure you get the support you need. I am encouraging everyone in our community to share this number widely so that those who may need help know they have a place to turn.
Our experience with 703-J-CARING is now guiding us as we develop a community effort to address the ongoing and systemic needs of those who are financially vulnerable. I look forward to sharing more about this in the coming months. To hear more about Federation’s work this past year and how we are thinking about the future, check out my recent conversation with Sixth & I’s Heather Moran.
But as proud as I am of our community’s response to an incredibly challenging year, I know our work is far from over. The road to recovery is long and there are many people who are still dealing with crisis situations. We need to keep our stamina and our compassion up.
It is with all this in mind that I am asking you to give. We have been humbled and inspired by your generosity this year, and we have more to do together. Serious challenges and opportunities line the road ahead and we are relying on your support to help us move forward. If you have already given to our Annual Campaign, please consider making an additional gift. If you have not yet done so, please take a moment to visit shalomdc.org/donate and give what you are able.
Some of you may remember that I began the year by writing a series of reflections about the priorities I predicted would take center stage in 2020. None of them mentioned a pandemic. Instead, this year became an unexpected master class on the importance of community. A sense of belonging is vital to the human spirit. We can overcome more than we could ever anticipate when we know that there are people who care.
Thank you for all you have done to rise to the occasion this year and for your continued generosity.
Shabbat Shalom and with wishes for a bright and happy Chanukah,