Finding Strength and Guidance in our Community

By Darren Schwartz, Chief Planning & Strategy Officer, Jewish Federation

In times of crisis, we look to our Jewish institutions for comfort, strength, guidance and support. Today, and in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, our beloved organizations, agencies, and schools are facing radically changing environment. Established institutions are experiencing an influx of new clients, overwhelming systems that were already reaching capacity.

We are all being asked to adapt, innovate, and pivot in a time of budgetary and financial uncertainty. Our day schools, for example, are providing exclusively virtual education for their students. Without skipping a beat, educators are conducting classes and creating a sense of normalcy for students. How we flex, how we show up matters more than ever before.

In anticipation of an inevitable shelter in place policy, the Jewish Federation of San Diego County launched a senior phone bank that mobilizes volunteers to be in regular communication with thousands of seniors. The phone bank was set up in consultation with Lawrence Family JCC, Leichtag Foundation, Jewish Family Service, Seacrest at Home, and G’mach Jewish Gift Closet to ensure we had an integrated approach to problem solving and were efficiently leveraging existing services. Initially, access to food and medicine took priority, but we quickly learned that a friendly voice in the face of isolation can be just as instrumental. Many of our volunteers and professionals are building beautiful friendships, even sharing favorite TV shows and recipes. Friendship in the face of COVID, a novel concept.

Budding friendships aside, organizations are taking on new, complex responsibilities and we need to adapt to support them. Right now, our Jewish institutions NEED US. That’s why together with the Jewish Community Foundation and Leichtag Foundation, the COVID-19 Emergency Fund was opened to help address the most immediate and pressing needs of individuals and organizations. Chaired by longtime community leaders and philanthropists Emily Einhorn, Leo Spiegel, and Brian Tauber, the fund will support those who are most impacted.

Needs will be dynamic, evolving, and vast, but as we move through this crisis we know that the San Diego Jewish community is doing what it does best, banding together, and you guessed it, showing up.

We will get through this. We will be stronger because of it. And, if you are feeling like you need the embrace of our community, please visit us online at jewishinsandiego.org/covid or send an email to info@jewishinsandiego.org.

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