Ongoing Response to COVID-19 Pandemic: October 2020


Shanah Tovah. I hope your High Holiday celebrations have been as sweet and meaningful as possible during this unusual season. I write to you today with a brief update on our work in the wake of COVID-19, and a look at what we are doing now.

The Survey Results Are In
This summer, we partnered with researchers from the Cohen Center at Brandeis University to conduct the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Jewish Greater Washington. We look forward to sharing the full report with you soon, but the initial findings are clear: 45% of those who were living in an unstable financial situation prior to the pandemic have experienced further deteriorating financial situations, are struggling to make ends meet, and are more likely to feel isolated and lonely during these unprecedented times.

The data from this survey and other reports confirm these concerns.

  • 230,000 individuals across Greater Washington are unemployed
  • 31% of people who were employed prior to the pandemic reported negative impacts on their jobs
  • 199,850 children face food insecurity — a 92% increase from 2018, as projected by Feeding America
  • An estimated 6,000 Jewish families report being unable to pay for an emergency $400 expense

Working to address these exacerbated needs will require all of our human service agencies, and our community’s leadership, to come together. We must work to create integrated strategies that address the issues being faced by our community at the root, and put into place community-wide solutions to ensure that everyone in Greater Washington is able to access stable housing, food, medical care and mental health services. And leveraging the results of this research, our agencies, synagogues, and other institutions will be able to provide even more support to our community moving forward.

The Path Forward
We are incredibly grateful for our community’s continued generosity and the leadership you have shown throughout this crisis. Knowing that you are committed to sustaining our Jewish community is of great comfort to many thousands of people. As the pandemic continues to hamper our economy and wellbeing, we know that the needs in Greater Washington will only continue to grow, and that they will quickly outpace the funding we have already secured.

That’s why, most immediately, we will be seeking to raise an additional $1 million for individual needs and human services by December 31st, which will trigger a national match of $500,000 supported by seven national Jewish foundations and facilitated through The Jewish Federations of North America. As we navigate the ripple effects of COVID-19 on our community, this money will ensure that even as we continue to help individuals meet urgent needs, we can also provide services and resources on a communal level to create longer-term stability for all of Jewish Greater Washington.

Thank You

None of us could have anticipated the length or severity of this crisis. But you, our community leaders, have remained a steadfast and generous force behind Federation’s work. You have helped thousands of people throughout Greater Washington. I look forward to continuing to partner with you as we see our community through to the other side of this pandemic.

With my best wishes for a sweet and healthy New Year,