The coronavirus pandemic is here. We have been told to stay in our homes and that’s exactly what most of us have been doing. Meanwhile, health workers on the frontlines at our hospitals are valiantly fighting to keep people alive.
Within our Jewish community, rabbis, organizational leaders and the Jewish Journal are trying to keep people connected. Online courses and services have been offered by temples and organizations; rabbis deliver live Torah classes; this newspaper is being published by people dedicated to journalism and Yiddishkeit.
People’s lives have already been changed forever by the coronavirus: seniors now worry about getting their groceries; singles spend more time alone; parents must balance explaining all of this to their children while continuing to be role models even as they somehow find time to work from home and be productive. Children will push parents to resume their regular lives outside of the home. And college students now wonder what happened to the seminal experience they had spent years anticipating.
We applaud CJP’s proactive move to create a Coronavirus Emergency Fund. But for Jewish community workers, the future also is unclear. Most do it because they want to make a contribution to their culture. Most receive modest pay and benefits. Many of these people are largely anonymous – they don’t seek attention nor do they want the limelight: they just want their community to continue, based on Jewish ethics and values.
It is too early to understand the magnitude of this health emergency, and what it means for Jewish organizations like this publication – which has remained open (but has lost over 50 percent of its advertising in the last month).
While the government is preparing a stimulus bill, it is not too early for major Jewish charities to consider an emergency fund for Jewish organizations. Temples, JCCs, day schools, and this publication, the Jewish Journal, provide critical services to the community every day. Now is the time to create a plan to support these institutions, which will face unprecedented financial challenges.
We must continue to link the Jewish community and provide support to our fellow Jews and interfaith families at this time, and in the coming years following the pandemic. If these institutions are left to survive on their own, the coronavirus also may erase the foundation of Jewish life in Greater Boston.