After years of catastrophic wildfires and now a viral plague causing death and economic destruction, it’s no stretch to say that the Bay Area has suffered its share of the pain. Fortunately, the Jewish community is known for stepping up to care for those who are hurting, responding decisively with aid and comfort when the situation so demands.
And it is a situation like no other in modern memory. The S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation recognized this, jumping into action as soon as the scope of the coronavirus pandemic came into focus. The Federation not only established an emergency fund to which community members could donate, it also got to work establishing priorities for emergency grants.
The first round of those grants targeted social service agencies providing for the most urgent needs. Beneficiaries include the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services and Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay, the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, Jewish Vocational Service, Shalom Bayit and several food banks and nondenominational agencies.
These are essential entities, Jewish and non-Jewish, serving constituencies most vulnerable to the coronavirus fallout. And they constitute only the first wave of what is intended to be a $4 million effort. The Federation will next announce a series of grants designed to shore up mainline Jewish institutions such as synagogues, JCCs and day schools, all of which have been economically devastated by the shutdown.
Hebrew Free Loan of San Francisco has received requests for more than $3.7 million in loans, mostly from people furloughed or laid off and from small businesses suffering under the state’s shelter-in-place order. And it has a $5-million funding pool from Federation to help fill those requests.
Likewise, JFCS has set up an emergency fund, with a goal of raising $5 million. The S.F.-based agency has been quick out of the gate to provide meals, medical care and other desperately needed services to the community, including in-home care to Covid-19 patients.
For all of the national talk of reopening the economy, the hard truth is that we are still early in this crisis, both in terms of public health and reasserting long-term economic stability. The need for governmental and philanthropic assistance will no doubt continue for months, perhaps years. We are sure the Jewish community will be there, helping out in every way they can.
We offer our profound thanks to the leaders of our institutions, stepping up when the community needs them most.