Mobilizing Our Community

Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic first began to shut down large segments of Greater Washington, The Jewish Federation immediately set to work, mobilizing our community to protect our most vulnerable individuals and respond to evolving needs.

To date, Greater Washington’s Jewish Community has raised $6.1 million from more than 890+ donors for human service needs. As of March 2021, Federation’s Executive Committee has approved $2,991,054 in grants and loans to address the most immediate needs, as recommended by the Emergency Response Committee chaired by Susie & Michael Gelman and Melanie & Larry z”l Nussdorf.

These compassionate and generous donors are:

  • Directly supporting individuals who are struggling with financial distress, food insecurity, physical and mental health challenges, and more
  • Sustaining institutions through capital shortages, lost revenue, and staff layoffs as they continue to provide essential services to vulnerable populations

Jewish Greater Washington at a glance:

300,000 Jews in the Greater Washington region.

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18% of households in the DMV include a family member with a health limitation or disability.

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2,000 Holocaust survivors live in Greater Washington.

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6% of adults in Metro DC have elderly parents or close relatives living in a local independent or assisted living facility.

We are caring for:

  • People near and below the poverty line
  • People facing food or financial insecurity
  • Holocaust survivors
  • Seniors
  • Victims of domestic abuse
  • People facing mental health challenges
  • People with disabilities

We convene, collaborate with, and support:

  • Human service agencies
  • Jewish Community Centers
  • Jewish summer camps
  • Jewish Day Schools
  • Synagogues
  • Hillels on college campuses
  • Social action groups
  • Relationship-building organizations

We are helping people access:

  • Emergency cash and food assistance
  • Treatment for physical and mental health concerns
  • Safe places to live
  • Water, gas, electricity, and other utilities

Our most vulnerable community members—spanning the full DMV geographic region—are at greater risk than ever before of not being able to access even the most basic necessities.

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1.4 million residents of DC, Maryland, and Virginia have filed jobless claims in the 10 weeks following the shutdown of all but essential businesses

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$2m+ in increased food assistance costs reported by local Jewish food pantries

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600% increase in Jewish community members requesting interest-free loans

Risks of reduced participation in Jewish life

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$7m projected need for Jewish Day School scholarships and financial aid

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$4.3m projected need for overnight camp scholarships and financial aid for summer 2021

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$17.5m+ in budget shortfalls are projected by Jewish agencies due to lost revenue and fundraising as well as increased costs

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$2m+ in refunds to preschool families due to closures

As of March 19, 2021, Federation’s Executive Committee approved $2,991,054 in grants and loans to address the most immediate needs.

Meeting Essential Needs
TOTAL: $1,127,054 in grants*


Organization Amount Impact
Yad Yehuda $105,000 To support programs like Tomchei Shabbos and the Capital Kosher Pantry, and provide emergency cash and food assistance to individuals.
Hebrew Free Loan Association of Greater Washington** $250,000 To increase the number of interest-free loans distributed and the threshold amount to support the community.
Rabbi Emergency Fund $145,000 To empower rabbis throughout Greater Washington to support their congregants in need.
Bikur Cholim of Greater Washington $25,000 To help individuals in our community, especially the ill and elderly as well as their caregivers, receive assistance for medical issues and other urgent needs .
Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) $90,000 To redeploy existing staff to quickly and efficiently expand support to the community, particularly with cash and food assistance.
The Adel Fund $105,000 To provide support for short-term basic needs, including mortgage, rent, and medical payments, as well as counseling for help individuals solve issues like job applications and money management.
JCADA $113,750 To manage the increased volume in calls to their helpline, the expected increase in individuals needing long-term support, and reduce the amount of people on the waitlist.
GW Hillel and Edlavitch DCJCC $20,000 Vaccine Signup Support Project
703-J-CARING: The Jewish Community Support Line
A partnership between Federation, JSSA, and Jewish community human service organizations
$128,304 To ensure that residents of DC, MD, and Northern VA can access the full and broad variety of support and resources in our Jewish community with a single call.


*An additional $145,000 has been approved by Federation’s Executive Committee to be allocated as future needs arise.

**Federation has allocated $150,000 to Hebrew Free Loan, and the Norman R. Rales and Ruth Rales Foundation has committed a matching grant of $100,000.

Investing in Resilient Organizations
TOTAL: $1.86 million in grants


Organization Amount Impact
Pozez JCC of Northern Virginia $500,000 To cover fixed operating costs, including taxes, mortgage, insurance, and more, in order to allow the organization to focus on their core work of serving the community through this challenging time.
Bender JCC of Greater Washington $502,000 To cover fixed operating costs, including taxes, mortgage, insurance, and more, in order to allow the organization to focus on their core work of serving the community through this challenging time.
Capital Camps and Retreat Center $502,000 To cover fixed operating costs, including taxes, mortgage, insurance, and more, in order to allow the organization to focus on their core work of serving the community through this challenging time.
Edlavitch JCC of Washington DC $360,000 To cover fixed operating costs, including taxes, mortgage, insurance, and more, in order to allow the organization to focus on their core work of serving the community through this challenging time.

Together, we are helping people in need, stabilizing our community during the immediate crisis, and strengthening Jewish Greater Washington’s future.

Helping those in need:

        • $892,050 allocated to directly assist families across the community
        • 1,220+ individuals have received cash/food assistance

Impact Stories:

  • Two parents had been recently laid off. As a result, they had to choose between providing for themselves and providing for their daughter. With no money coming in, they began skipping meals to pay for their child’s formula. A next-door neighbor told them about a local organization that was providing help, from which they received money to put food on the table for themselves and their child as they could look for new employment or receive benefits.
  • The pandemic hit one couple’s household with layoffs, and they were struggling to afford food and make critical repairs to their house. Their adult daughter, who lives out-of-state, called a nonprofit in Greater Washington on behalf of her parents and worked with them to get the support needed to pay for food and help fix up their home.
  • One woman’s pandemic story begins earlier in the year, when she decided to start her own business. She signed a lease, purchased inventory, and hired employees for her store. In the face of dramatic financial insecurity, she found herself depressed and anxious and unable to move forward. Fortunately, a friend connected her with a local nonprofit. With their assistance, she has been able to keep her business afloat and stabilize her personal financial situation.

Keeping our community connected:

  • In March, Federation launched “Connect with Purpose During COVID-19,” an online resource center that leverages our Jconnect platform for community members to learn about online events, access digital resources, and more.
    • 31,218 total users visited Jconnect from March 16 – July 30 (16.2% increase from previous three-month period)

As the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic concerns continue, and the impact is felt by individuals and organizations through the summer of 2020 and beyond, the needs will grow exponentially. We need to act now to stabilize our community immediately and secure our long-term future.

The Annual Campaign enabled Federation to immediately contribute $500,000 from our emergency reserve fund to our emergency response efforts, which has helped institutions delay workforce reductions, maintain core functions during the pandemic, provide ongoing virtual programming, and more. Since our partner organizations plan in advance and rely heavily on their allocations from Federation, the Annual Campaign is helping many of our community’s valuable institutions secure their finances in the present moment and plan for the years ahead.

Please consider making a contribution to Federation’s 2020 Annual Campaign. Your gift is the fuel that propels our vision for the community into a reality and allows Federation to continue to be a leader in developing and implementing programs that engage people in Jewish life.

There are many other ways to give back during this time. At a time when many in our Greater Washington Jewish community need more assistance and support than ever before, Federation presents Jconnections, a platform created to connect those who need support with those who want to help. Whatever your current situation, we invite you to explore the easily accessible resources, curated volunteer opportunities, and simple tools needed to create and mobilize volunteer groups in acts of loving kindness.

*Allocations from the Jewish Community Coronavirus Response Fund are recommended by the Emergency Response Committee, chaired by Susie & Michael Gelman and Melanie & Larry Nussdorf, and approved by Federation’s Executive Committee.

Your Jewish community needs your support today. If you’ve never donated before, now is the time to meet the critical and growing needs of thousands of our friends, family members, and neighbors, And if you already give generously each year to Federation’s Annual Campaign, please consider this additional gift to provide essential COVID-19 relief.
Call 703-J-CARING, the Jewish community support line.