Shep Englander — Federation Journal
Helping Our Community Maintain Continuity During Coronavirus Times
It pains us to see the coronavirus pandemic eroding our control over our individual and community lives—from whether we can embrace a friend to whether we can gather at our congregation or the JCC. Risk updates drone on, each worse than the last. And as this information piles on stress, the warm support of community gatherings, festive meals, and even hugs are denied us. And we don’t know when life will return to normal.
As responsible citizens, we are racing to follow the evolving medical advice to minimize all social interaction. Yet Jews are social beings. So, we know that isolation bears emotional costs. As a community, we must invent new ways to help each other ease those emotional costs. Helping others will help us fight our anxiety and powerlessness. Please use this link to share your creative ideas for how we can stay connected and support each other.
Update from Emergency Medicine Specialist
This morning the Federation’s SAFE Cincinnati Emergency Planning Committee convened dozens of senior community professionals and rabbis for a briefing and to share strategic responses. Dr. Hamilton Lempert, a specialist in emergency and disaster medicine, provided an illuminating overview.
Dr. Lempert explained the need for quick and extreme changes–like canceling all large events and transitioning to working remotely wherever possible. That rationale is to “flatten the curve,” in other words to slow the virus’ spread, so that hospitals will have adequate capacity to treat the flow of critical patients.
Maintaining Community Services through this Crisis
At the Jewish Federation, we are taking action to protect the health of our staff and volunteers both of the Federation and of our community organizations—so we can continue serving Jewish Cincinnati, especially the vulnerable. The Jewish Federation is:
- Cancelling all events in the coming weeks. Sadly, this includes cancelling Super Sunday for the first time in anyone’s memory. We are exploring ways to provide programming virtually. Stay tuned.
- Helping 22 organizations to maintain business continuity, including payroll.
- Providing our agencies and congregations best practices for staffing and financial management to fit these unprecedented times.
- Convening our community rabbis with Mayor John Cranley and City Council Member Greg Landsman to discuss recommendations regarding congregations and worship services.
Israel Travel Disrupted
We are proud that our community sends the most young people to Israel per capita. However, new travel restrictions will prevent many high school and college students from using their Cincy Journeys grants. The annual March of the Living trip in April has been already cancelled. We want to assure our community that we are working with the Jewish Foundation to make sure no one misses out on an opportunity to use their grant. See here for more details and FAQs as well as a message to the community from the Foundation.
Staying Informed and Helping Others
We have created a landing page on the Federation website with links to authoritative national resources and resources specific to our community. In addition, we know that maintaining essential services to our community will put a great financial and operational strain on many of our organizations. Also, many families will lose employment and will need support. We are working closely with our partner organizations:
- Letting our community know how to get the support services they need.
- Letting our community know how they can help Jewish Family Service, by donating items as well as volunteering, so they can continue to provide services to the most vulnerable in our community. Ways you can help are here.
- The Mayerson JCC remains open, but as of today is cancelling all instructed programming and most events. You can find out the latest on their updates page.
- The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center is closed as of March 14.
- Rockwern Academy is closed as of today, March 13.
- JVS Career Services’s offices are closed, and all client meetings are taking place remotely.
- Cincinnati Hillel at the University of Cincinnati is closed but plans to do some programming virtually; see this link. Hillel at Miami University remains open, but with much happening virtually; see this link.
These closures are unprecedented. We are in uncharted waters. But our community is strong and resilient, and so long as we stay connected, we will get through this challenge together. I am so grateful for your commitment to our community.