One year ago today, JewishColumbus made the difficult decision to close its offices and start working remotely. On March 12, 2020, no one could have foreseen where the next twelve months would take us and what challenges we would encounter. Although we have never before been more physically distant from each other, we have also never been more united as one Jewish community.
When the pandemic hit and our new reality began, Jewish community agency and congregational leaders held nightly meetings to assess the tsunami of needs to come. Long into the night, we planned and collaborated with the intention of weathering this storm together.
JewishColumbus immediately sprang into action. We delayed programs and pivoted to an online world, through which we coordinated an emergency Community Response Fund campaign; an initiative to help fund our partners’ crucial work in the present and future.
Our community answered the call generously, raising $1.66 million (a total of 310+ gifts), helping our community partners, families and individuals face struggles created by the pandemic.
Below are a few highlights of how the emergency Community Response Fund has been used:
$415,000+ went to the JCC in order to save the preschool teachers’ jobs, which prevented many from what could only be described as a terrible financial and mental health situation. We also provided reopening support, matching funding for the JCC’s sustainability campaign, and PPE and risk mitigation supplies allowing the JCC to reopen its doors.
$230,000+ helped reopen our day schools, so families could send their children to learn in-person and in a safe environment; not having to worry that one parent would have to give up their job to home school their children. And in situations where remote learning was the best alternative, technology was provided as well.
$180,000+ was directed to JFS to support community members who needed emergency rent, food and utility payments, and to help with job replacement services. JFS helped over 70 Jewish community members find employment after losing their jobs due to COVID. Funds also were provided to increase staff to ensure that community members’ mental health and worries “where do I go from here” concerns were addressed.
In looking back, there is no doubt that JewishColumbus was built for moments like this. We were able to pivot and coordinate our community’s needs on March 12 because we were here on March 11 — ready to respond and help our community in need.
It was because of you and your unwavering support that, together, we managed to survive. The power of this moment is the power of our community, and as we look to a future of increased vaccinations and reopenings, we know there will be new, unforeseen challenges to address. As always, we will work together on finding the best solutions for our beloved community.
We look forward to a time soon when we can bring our entire community together to mourn for those we lost, to celebrate our survival and to look ahead to our bright future.