Looking Back… and Forward: Reflecting on our COVID-19 Response

Spring’s arrival in Washington brings with it the promise of brighter days ahead. A sense of excitement now pervades most of my conversations, and I look forward to spending time with many of you in person in the coming months. And yet, even as we plan for the future, I find myself reflecting once again on the past year.

For all of its challenges, this year was also paved by collective accomplishments—thanks to you, our generous donors and visionary leaders. We found innovative ways to care for one another, reimagine Jewish life, and invest time, energy, and resources in efforts that will move us into a vibrant Jewish future.

Below, you’ll find a recap of our work over the past year and a glimpse at what’s on the horizon. As you take this look back, I hope you will feel as proud as I do of what we made possible together—and just as energized for all that’s still to come. Thank you for everything you do to help our community thrive.

Gil Preuss

Federation Focus: A Look Back… and Forward

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Federation immediately set to work. We rapidly mobilized leaders, donors, organizations, and resources to meet essential and evolving needs.

  • By August 2020, nearly 900 donors contributed more than $4.4 million for COVID-19 relief and human service needs. By the end of December 2020, a generous matching grant from The Jewish Federations of North America and several national foundations added another nearly $2 million to our human service fund, which will help us support our community for the long-term.
  • With thoughtful guidance from our Emergency Response Committee, Federation allocated millions in emergency relief, provided crucial support to our partners, launched new human service programs, and invested to help families continue participating in Jewish life.
    • $1.1 million is directly supporting 1,500 individuals and families across 79 local zip codes. Grants have helped cover food, housing, medical, childcare, and other expenses
    • 703-J-CARING: the Jewish Community Support Line, launched in partnership with JSSA and six human service agencies, has now warmly connected hundreds of community members with local resources.
    • $1.86 million helped vital Jewish community-building agencies—Capital Camps & Retreat Center and the JCCs serving DC, MD, and Northern VA— survive the pandemic.
    • By aiding and advising local Jewish organizations through the Federal Paycheck Protection Program process, Federation helped infuse Jewish Greater Washington with $25 million.
    • $1.2 million in scholarships and financial aid has been allocated to increase participation in Jewish early childhood education, day schools, and summer camps.

The steps we take now—together—will help community members meet basic needs and stay connected to Jewish life, both in the short term and as demands evolve. Today…

  • …we are building an integrated anti-poverty initiative to combat poverty within the Jewish community. Using data from 703-J-CARING and working in collaboration with nearly 20 local agencies and partners, we seek to address the issue in both the short and long-term. Poverty may be immutable, but individual and family journeys to self-sufficiency can be shaped by our collective efforts.
  • …we estimate that the funding for early childhood education, day schools, and summer camps will help close to 800 families this year. By helping more families opt into Jewish experiences for their children—opportunities that may have otherwise been financially out-of-reach—we are building vibrant Jewish life for the near-term and investing in the future leadership of our community.

What comes next?
Federation is dedicated to seeing our Jewish community through the end of the pandemic, and to fostering vibrant Jewish life well into the future.

Our Plan for Communal Vibrancy will propel Jewish Greater Washington forward over the coming two to four years. This work prioritizes meeting individual & family needs, ensuring the success and resilience of the Jewish community, and deepening Jewish learning & journeys—efforts vital to building a vibrant Jewish future.

At the same time, we remain committed to our core mandate of caring for our community locally, in Israel, and around the world. We are spearheading social change, investing in communal security, exploring connections with Israel, fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and much more.

I look forward to keeping you updated on our progress. In the interim, I invite you to join us for one (or more) of the upcoming events below, and would love to hear what’s on your mind.

Thank you
Together, we have kept our community connected and cared for through these difficult times. As we emerge from the pandemic and collectively reimagine our vibrant Jewish future, our work has never been more important. Thank you for being an integral part of these efforts, today and for the long-term.