Gail's View: Moving our communal agenda forward
We are committed to helping Jewish people in need while building the Jewish Community for tomorrow

March 27, 2020

First and foremost, I hope that you and your family are healthy and keeping safe.

This is a challenging time for us all as we struggle to cope with the impact of the Coronavirus. Almost overnight our world has dramatically altered and we have been thrown into the greatest medical and financial crisis most of us have ever experienced. Over the past two weeks, Federation CJA has worked closely with front-line organizations to respond as effectively and efficiently as possible. With our social service agencies and community partners, we immediately deployed hundreds of thousands of dollars of food and pharmacy vouchers to our community's most vulnerable to lower their anxiety and ensure that they had four weeks of security. We purchased thousands of frozen meals for delivery to elderly community members. And we have established a "helpline" for anyone in the community who needs assistance.

We have mobilized upwards of 200 volunteers to make calls; to fill grocery and pharmacy orders for isolated community members; to deliver frozen meals to seniors and Survivors; and to call over 4,000 members of our community over the age of 65 to ensure their well-being and provide a sympathetic touch. We have as well deployed our volunteers to help other organizations such as MADA and the Family Store.

While all this is taking place, Federation CJA still has the responsibility of moving our communal agenda forward and ensuring that when this crisis is over, the wheels of Community can start moving forward again and we can return to our work of ensuring a strong, resilient and vibrant Jewish community. An important step in this direction is continuing with our planning for the upcoming fiscal year.

Yesterday, the Board of Directors of Federation CJA approved the global budget for our upcoming fiscal year. This process is always a delicate one as we balance the needs of our Jewish Community here in Montreal, our National Jewish collective as well as our responsibility to Israel and Jews around the world. Each year, the Board executes this responsibility through its committees with the seriousness, diligence and dedication that such an effort deserves. The analysis and deliberation is undertaken by a group of dedicated and experienced lay leadership and is guided by our talented and knowledgeable professionals who work together in order to bring recommendations to the Board for final decision.

Our task is even more complex this year as the amount of money available for allocation is significantly lower than in previous years. While our annual campaign remained strong and raised close to $45 million dollars from more than 10,000 donors, it included gifts of $5 million dollars dedicated to a special campaign for Community security, a priority identified by the Board and supported by our community and our donors.

As such, the Board of Federation CJA will need to reduce our total annual allocations by $4 million. These reductions will be shared across the communal landscape by Federation CJA, our national and international partners and our local agencies and grantees. In the weeks leading up to the Covid-19 crisis, we had met with the leadership of our agencies, our partners and community organizations to advise them of the upcoming reductions and to provide them with the longest possible runway to prepare for the changes ahead. We now all struggle to adapt to the needs of a quickly changing landscape and have as such moved to a month to month funding model to assure the system as a whole has the flexibility to respond to the uncertain road ahead.

All our agencies and partners are working with with us, shoulder to shoulder, to ensure that services are streamlined and that only vital needs are currently being addressed.

We all know that our services and programs are needed now more than ever. Too many of our neighbours are living near or below the poverty line and the impact of the current crisis both financially and emotionally will no doubt increase dependency on Federation CJA and its agencies.

To achieve our goals, we will need to be strategic in the allocations that we make.

It can no longer be business as usual.

To facilitate this renewal, the Board of Directors will continue a comprehensive strategic planning process undertaken in December which will include an in depth Needs Assessment and Impact Analysis, the results of which will help guide us on the path to recovery.

For the past 103 years, it has always been when we come together as a community, that we are best positioned to provide our most vulnerable with a much needed safety net; to ensure a strong sense of Jewish identity in the generations which follow; to provide tuition assistance to our students and meals on wheels to our elderly; and to lead the fight against intolerance and antisemitism.

I am proud and so very grateful to be a part of this incredible Community, and I look forward to working with all of you, to renew what we have built together. In so doing, we will emerge as a stronger and more vibrant Jewish community and continue to provide the best quality of Jewish life and continuity for today and for future generations.

I will take this opportunity to wish you a Safe and Healthy Passover. A Passover that is different than others we have celebrated, but a celebration of life nonetheless.

Chag Samech V'kasher

Gail Adelson-Marcovitz
President, Federation CJA

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