This week I was interviewed on Israeli radio about how our North American Jewish community is coping during the pandemic, especially around the lost summer camp season. It felt terrific to be able to respond by sharing that Federation and many organizations across the Jewish ecosystem jumped into action, working together to create Summer 5780 and the rich roster of offerings that ensure we’ve got plenty of Jewish experiences on offer for kids and families – despite COVID-19. Echoing that theme, here are four items that demonstrate how Jewish communities are finding new ways to look out for one another – no matter where they are around the world.
Israel (Heart) World Jewry
Israel’s government passed a resolution proposing a strategic plan for working with Diaspora communities to secure the future of Jewish people around the world. This was the new government’s first non-COVID related resolution! To be created in coordination with the Jewish Agency and leaders of Jewish communities outside Israel, the proposed new strategy will focus on investing in both formal and informal education, Jewish identity programming, support for immersive experiences like Masa and Birthright, as well as initiatives to educate the Israeli public on the importance of the collective Jewish community with Israel at its center. Let’s hope it moves forward despite all the other challenges on the docket. An English translation of the resolution can be read here.
It’s perhaps no surprise that one of Israel’s newest Members of Knesset, Tehila Friedman, a former representative of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, is working to advance legislation that would require the government and the Knesset to take into account perspectives from Jewish communities outside Israel on key issues impacting Jews around the world.
So too on the grassroots level, Minuf, which helps non-profits and civil society organizations boost their capacities, wrote this letter of solidarity and encouragement to Jewish communities in North America.
Federation and Partners Support Global Jewish Communities
Last week, as the death toll of Jews around the world climbed into the thousands, The Jewish Agency for Israel announced that its COVID-19 Loan Fund had granted nearly $10 million in interest-free loans to 23 overseas Jewish communities experiencing urgent needs. Read the press release here and watch this brief moving video . The loan fund is a partnership of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Hayesod, and the Jewish Federations of North America.
Israeli NGOs Receive Boost From Government and Philanthropy
JDC-Elka has initiated a first-of-its-kind partnership between the Israeli government and a group of major philanthropic foundations – a NIS 53 million relief fund supported 75:25 by government and philanthropy respectively. Through this fund nonprofits which were ineligible for previous rounds of government compensation, can apply for financial aid to help sustain them during this extremely tough period. Read more about this innovative fund.
Israeli Philanthropist Takes Action to Support Elderly
Israeli philanthropy is also stepping up to support vulnerable populations. Ronny Douek, founder of Sheatufim and two-time Israel GA Chair, launched Operation Veshamarta (from the Hebrew word for safeguarding) creating an extensive infrastructure to protect 25,000 nursing home residents and 12,000 staff members. Read more about the work to protect this at-risk population here.
From the national, to the communal, to the organizational, right on down to the individual, we are seeing countless acts of loving kindness, a much-needed boost of Hesed and TLC for our global Jewish community. One such example that is sure to put a smile on your face is this this two minute YouTube video, a musical message of support from the Jewish Agency’s Kol Ami Mechina which brings together Israeli and Jewish young adults from over 25 countries around the world. Enjoy!