(March 23, 2020) – On March 23, 2020, the Edmonton United Jewish Appeal Campaign Chairs Ron Sorokin and Howie Sniderman, along with JFED President Steve Shafir, sent this message to the Edmonton Jewish Community.
We hope you are healthy and doing well during this very challenging time.
As a valued UJA donor, you have chosen to invest in strengthening our community. As events are rapidly evolving, we wanted to update you on all that UJA is doing to help our community navigate this unprecedented crisis.
Our entire community, along with much of the world, has been impacted by the pandemic. Jewish day schools have cancelled in-person classes and shifted to online learning. Throughout North America, JCCs have closed and many synagogues have cancelled in-person services. Here at The Jewish Federation of Edmonton, we have cancelled all events, and our staff are working remotely.
While the way we work has changed, we continue to operate at full capacity to deliver the services our community needs. Indeed, it is precisely during a crisis like this one that UJA’s role as a vital community resource becomes crystal clear. UJA’s extensive reach through our network of agencies, our ability to quickly mobilize in response to new challenges, and our large-scale capacity to address the comprehensive needs of our community uniquely position us to make an impact.
Here are four ways your generous support is enabling UJA to build community resilience and help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic:
1. Strengthening our agencies that support the most vulnerable. Our partner social service agency JFS is on the front lines of helping our community’s most vulnerable overcome this crisis. Recognizing the tremendous pressure their teams will be under in the coming weeks, we will continue to allocate to our beneficiaries to ensure they have the resources they need. As the pandemic evolves, we are prepared to continue doing this in the months ahead, so that our agencies have the stable funding necessary to focus on their core responsibility: helping those in need.
2. Supporting Jewish institutions across our city. In recent weeks, day schools, synagogues, and other Jewish institutions have been reaching out to us for guidance on appropriate health precautions. While encouraging institutions to connect directly with Alberta Health, we have been issuing regular updates to our partner institutions throughout the community, sharing best practices to facilitate a community-wide approach. While many institutions have cancelled or shifted to virtual activities over the past few days, these updates helped many navigate this challenge in recent weeks.
3. Keeping our community connected. So much of Jewish life revolves around gathering as a community. That sense of connection will be severely tested in the coming weeks, which is why we are developing virtual opportunities to enable community members to stay engaged. Our hope is that, with so many wisely staying at home, we can use technology to counter the psychological isolation that risks going hand-in-hand with physical separation. More details to come.
4. Planning for our community’s evolving needs, now and for the long-term. As a hub for our many agencies and organizations, UJA serves as the backbone of our community and has a unique vantage point. We are in ongoing communication with leaders in every sector of Jewish life in our city and beyond to determine the impact this crisis is having throughout our community. Our goal is to ensure we have a coordinated response not only to meeting the comprehensive needs of our community today, but ensuring we have an effective strategy for coming through this crisis with strength.
Many have asked us: What can I do to help community members in need during the pandemic? As a UJA donor, you have already done so much. UJA would not be able to respond to this crisis in a comprehensive way without your generosity. On behalf of our entire community: thank you.
Please read your JFED e-weekly or check in on our website, www.jewishedmonton.org or Facebook and twitter to keep up to date.
If you have ideas for how UJA can help our community get through this crisis, please do not hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you and your loved ones good health at this challenging time.
Ron Sorokin & Howie Sniderman