One Year of the Pandemic at Jewish Federation

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By David Adelman and Gail Norry

A little more than a year ago, the world as we knew it changed. Food insecurity rose to its highest numbers ever, individuals lost their jobs, businesses shut their doors, children stopped attending school in person, and physical distancing became the norm.

Parents transformed into teachers overnight and dining room tables became makeshift offices. COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic and economic shutdowns spread across the country along with fear, uncertainty and loss.


From Passover to Purim, we’ve celebrated a year’s worth of holidays over Zoom. And whether it be book clubs or birthdays, hundreds of events have taken place on digital platforms from the comfort of our living rooms and pajama pants. At times the isolation felt lonely, yet our creativity, innovation and openness to new approaches to gathering made it possible to actually never be alone if we so chose. We are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to enjoy each other’s company together, yet apart. We are most grateful to local agencies, synagogues and programs that pivoted their approaches and afforded us opportunities to remain connected and build Jewish life in a new way. Such efforts have been integral to our mental health and ability to adapt to this strange new world. We have proven we are stronger together.

Together, we delivered food packages to high-risk individuals, helped low-income families access the technology required to learn from home, gifted PPE to essential workers and so much more. We have stood hand in hand with Jewish agencies throughout the region and in Israel and faced the sea of challenges with resilience and determination. So many have stepped in to help those in need. We have all done our part to carry the light, and we could not be more proud of how our communities have handled these challenging times. Today, the light of everything we have accomplished together shines brightly.

With that in mind, we look to the year ahead with hope and optimism. Vaccinations continue to be dispensed, our children have returned to in-person school, the weather is getting warmer and businesses continue to reopen. With so much to look forward to, we eagerly await the days when we can once again hug our loved ones living outside our homes, share meals with extended family and worship as a community in the same room.

We will build on the lessons we’ve learned over the past year to continue to stand united and ensure a vibrant Jewish future. By continuing to work with local agencies, organizations and synagogues, we will help our community acquire whatever it needs to grow and thrive. And as we turn the corner to change once again, we must always remember the lessons we learned about the importance of caring for each other, connecting with each other and ensuring that the most vulnerable among us are cared for.

We look forward to the brighter days ahead and to the next time we can gather with each of you.

David Adelman and Gail Norry are the board co-chairs of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

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