Update on the Coronavirus Situation

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In times of uncertainty, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has always been a safe haven for people to turn to for help, guidance and comfort. Now we are responding to the coronavirus pandemic by ensuring that our critical work continues with vigor. The elderly, infirm, hungry and most vulnerable individuals in our region need our help. And we are here for them.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has joined the majority of organizations in the Philadelphia region in adapting its work and programming due to the spread of the coronavirus. Following guidance from Gov. Tom Wolf and the CDC, we have officially postponed all Jewish Federation events and external meetings scheduled for the next eight weeks, with the hope of rescheduling in the near future. Updated information on the postponed events and meetings will continue to be communicated via email and on our website.

While we are forced to work away from our offices, we are committed to providing essential resources to the entire community during the international crisis caused by COVID-19. We are coordinating with all Jewish-affiliated organizations, schools, synagogues and agencies in the region to assess and address emerging needs. Below are some of our immediate actions and next steps, and will certainly change as these unprecedented circumstances evolve.

Emergency Response Committee

The Jewish Federation fully assessed our Jewish communities’ critical initial needs and our professionals and leadership will begin conveying both financial campaign and volunteer opportunities to our communities. We will continue to assess our communities’ evolving needs and maintain close communication on our website JewishPhilly.org.

Volunteers Needed

A critical need is for volunteers to assist us at all of our five Mitzvah food pantry locations. We need people to deliver food (drop food parcels at front doors, knock, then immediately leave) to homes across our region. Volunteers must serve at their own risk, and we ask that anyone who has been exposed to the virus, is sick or is over the age of 60 to not participate. If you’re able to help, please email us at [email protected]

We are also working to build a frequent caller program in order to connect with an isolated older adult or any community member living alone. We will share this information, and any other volunteer opportunities on our website. You may also email our volunteer email hotline at [email protected] or you can leave a voicemail at 215-832-0822 and someone will return your call shortly.

Raising Critical Funds

Through our outreach efforts, the Jewish Federation is working every hour of every day to determine where our most critical needs are and how we can best keep our Jewish communities safe.

This is an unprecedented time that demands an unprecedented response, and we ask that you join us in our life-saving work by making a gift to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. An online mailbox has been established and can be found by visiting jewishphilly.org/coronavirus.

While we are aware of the uncertainty that COVID-19 is having on the financial markets, the dire needs of the community and those most at risk remain paramount. With your generosity, we will be able to ensure the safety and strength of our Jewish communities and those most directly affected by the virus.

A gift of any size will have an immediate impact and will support many at-risk populations, including:

seniors who are homebound due to their high risk of contracting the virus

those who find themselves newly food insecure due to a loss of wages

people with mental health issues or disabilities whose regular care may be interrupted.

those community programs which run on the power of volunteers who are no longer able to carry out this important work.

Agency and Synagogue Outreach

This past Friday we convened our first weekly COVID-19 Webinar/Zoom meeting for Jewish community professionals and lay leaders. This meeting, which will take place every week, is an opportunity for community leaders to share information and updates. Our first session was met with an outpouring of appreciation, with 150 attendees tuning in to watch our panelists discuss preparedness from various perspectives:

Rabbi Eric Yanoff, Adath Israel and Board of Rabbis

Rabbi Gil Perl, Kohelet Yeshiva

Rabbi Isabel de Koninck, Drexel Hillel

Andre Krug, KleinLife

Brian Gralnick, Jewish Federation, Mitzvah Food Program

Robb Quattro, Jewish Federation, Information Technology

Panelists planned for our second webinar, Friday, March 20, include Holly Nelson, chair of the Jewish Federation Emergency Committee; and a representative from Gov. Wolf’s office.

Social Service Agencies: Vulnerable Populations

The five Mitzvah Food pantries that make up our Mitzvah Food Program are open and available to both existing and new clients. We will be providing pre-packaged parcels of nutritious food that will include fresh produce and protein as available. Here are the locations and hours of our pantries:

Old York Road Location

Beth Sholom Congregation

8231 Old York Road

Elkins Park, PA 19027

Wednesday: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. for Montgomery County clients only

Lower Bucks County Location

Congregation Tifereth Israel of Lower Bucks County

2909 Bristol Road

Bensalem, PA 19020

Tuesday: 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Center City Location

Jewish Community Services Building

2100 Arch St.

Philadelphia, PA 19103

First and third Thursday of the month: 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Main Line Location

JFCS – Barbara and Harvey Brodsky Enrichment Center

345 Montgomery Ave.

Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

Every Thursday, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Northeast Location

KleinLife

10100 Jamison Ave.

Philadelphia, PA 19116

Tuesday: 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Thursday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

In addition, the Jewish Federation recently conducted a conference call with heads of social services agencies to assess the needs of older adults, the food insecure and other vulnerable populations. This will be an ongoing and regular assessment as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.

Information Resource Center

Our website jewishphilly.org is now a robust online resource center that will keep our communities informed and connected. Anyone in need of services or questions can also reach us at our new email address, [email protected] Please visit our website often for new information and updates.

Israel Needs

COVID-19’s spread in Israel is also of great concern to us. We are working with our networks on the ground to identify and assess needs in Israel, especially in our partner communities of Netivot and Sdot Negev.

The Jewish Federation is always here for our communities, and we will continue to update you on our efforts during this pandemic. Please continue to follow guidelines from the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, continue to check in on our neighbors and friends and use good judgment when leaving your home. 

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