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May 1st, 2020
On day 48 of COVID-19 isolation, many of us are rethinking our concerns, our values and our priorities.
I can't help but think that in the years to come we might look back on this period as, in some odd way, a wasted opportunity to slow down and enjoy special time with our nuclear families, even if only virtually, and to reflect and give thanks for the privilege of our lives – for all that we take for granted on a daily basis.
Living in Canada, for instance, with a proactive government that is providing income support for individuals, and wage and rental subsidy for businesses and non-profits. Having a Medicare system that gives us free access to excellent medical care. Belonging to a supportive and philanthropic community whose members have generously donated their time and financial resources to support our crisis relief efforts – helping those who are less fortunate and have been more dramatically impacted by the crisis.
This week, as we commemorated the sacrifice of our soldiers on Yom Hazikaron, and celebrated Israel's Independence Day on Yom Ha'atzmaut with our brothers and sisters in Israel and Jews around the world, we must also reflect on the dedication and sacrifice of our own front-line healthcare workers, our food service providers and other essential employees who have continued to work so hard and at such great personal risk to assure our health, safety and well-being.
We must also think about all those among us who have lost loved ones during this quarantine, and who have had to endure the additional pain of a burial and mourning period without the comfort and warmth of a traditional Shiva, without the physical presence of loving family and caring friends.
At Federation CJA, our agencies and community partners who provide services to the vulnerable have responded quickly to the unfolding crisis, ensuring additional support for our seniors and other at-risk populations. Our other agencies and partners have put their activities on hold and drastically cut overhead so that financial support can be appropriately directed to where it is needed most. In addition, we have moved to a month-to-month funding model to ensure that resources are appropriately and effectively deployed.
With our partners at the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF), we have created the Community Crisis Response Fund. Donors have already contributed over $1.1 Million to the Fund. This money, in addition to the JCF Emergency fund, is being deployed to address immediate needs that have resulted from this crisis. Basic needs to ensure that our vulnerable and newly vulnerable do not fall through the cracks.
In partnership with the JCF and the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Montreal, we have also established a COVID Crisis Loan Fund to interest free loans of up to $10,000 to entrepreneurs and small businesses owners, which may not qualify for Government aid, to help them through this period. Applicants do not need a guarantor. If you know of anyone requiring such a loan, please direct them to: [email protected]
As we move into the next phase of this crisis, our response will need to adapt accordingly. Isolation in some form will likely continue for an extended period, requiring a recalibration of all of our work, services and programs.
Longer-term solutions will need to be developed as we attempt to adjust to a new world order.
In this period of uncertainty, anxiety is higher then ever, as none of us can predict when this will end and what the world will look like when it does.
But we will continue adjusting to the quickly-changing landscape, using our most recent data to ensure that urgent needs are met, that the impact of social isolation is mitigated, and that we do our utmost to ensure a vibrant, thriving Jewish community for today and tomorrow.
In the meantime, we owe a debt of gratitude to all our dedicated volunteers, our generous donors and our incredible professionals, who are working tirelessly to make our crisis relief efforts possible. It takes a community – and we WILL weather this storm TOGETHER!
Please stay healthy.