In good times and bad, the need is always there: For food, shelter, medical care, counseling, Jewish education and so much more.
And when it comes to meeting those needs, Chicago's Jewish community also is there. In 2017, it committed a record $86.97 million to the Jewish United Fund's Annual Campaign, more than $2.6 million over last year and the ninth consecutive year of growth since the 2008 recession.
"This is an amazing achievement," 2017 Annual Campaign Chair Larry Levy said. "Together, we do our best work - Caring for people during times of crisis. Leading efforts to fully include children and adults with disabilities in our community. Encouraging Jewish parents as they navigate the most important job they will ever have - raising their children. Providing opportunities to celebrate our heritage and connect with Israel. Assisting Jews in need around the world."
Just in the past year, Chicago's Jewish community, through programs supported by JUF and the Annual Campaign, served over 500,000 people of all faiths in Chicago and millions of Jews in Israel and worldwide. That includes:
- Serving more than 530,000 meals to people in need.
- Delivering medicine, heating fuel and food to 134,000 poor elderly and children throughout the former Soviet Union.
- Helping 26,000 Jews from across the world begin new lives of freedom in Israel.
- Engaging 20,500 people in Jewish life at JUF events.
- Welcoming and mentoring 9,000 families who participated in JUF Young Families programs.
- Providing 3,000 people with Israel experiences, through JUF-sponsored trips.
The Annual Campaign is the most significant element of JUF's overall fundraising, but substantial additional support comes through bequests, the Centennial Campaign, corporate sponsorships, donor advised funds, support foundations and more .
There also are special emergency relief efforts, which this past year raised $1.4 million to aid victims of the massive hurricanes that struck Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, as well as those who were devastated by the earthquake in Mexico.
As a major funder of human services addressing the needs of Illinois' most vulnerable populations, the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago also receives significant grants - totaling more than $28 million in 2017 - from governments and foundations, and is a beneficiary of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.
"We are incredibly proud of and thankful to our Chicago Jewish community," said JUF Chairman Michael H. Zaransky. "Every individual who contributes to the Annual Campaign has committed to helping those in need and to making the world better. That is a commitment as enduring as the Jewish people. It also is a personal declaration that they are part of both a local and a global community."
"The Annual Campaign is a massive undertaking, and its success is the direct result of the amazing efforts of countless volunteers, supported by JUF's professional staff," President Steven B. Nasatir said. "It is an incredible example of the good that can be accomplished when we work together. Without that, it simply does not happen. We are so grateful, and so appreciate their vision, leadership and commitment to the Jewish people."