The Jewish blessing, "may you go from strength to strength," takes on extra urgency as our community is buffeted by the winds of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jewish Chicago is uniquely resilient, and we will get through this, as we have gotten through tough times before. That's because of our community's exceptional people and extraordinary infrastructure-the extensive network of agencies built over the generations by visionary donors who understand it as foundational to our community's strength.
That infrastructure is anchored by the Jewish United Fund.
Infrastructure may not be a subject that lends itself to catchy slogans, but-as we have seen in recent months-when there's a need to mobilize in a crisis, there is no substitute for having the resources at hand and the people and programs already in motion to help.
Once COVID-19 hit our community, JUF and our family of human service agencies instantly became a lifeline for tens of thousands of people who suddenly, desperately needed assistance.
When hungry children could no longer get subsidized school lunches, we pivoted and delivered thousands of meals to feed them.
When professionals were laid off and needed cash to provide basic necessities for their families, we swiftly redirected millions of dollars in emergency financial aid to help them.
When front line health care workers required vast quantities of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other support to safely care for the sick and the vulnerable, we quickly mobilized the resources to provide it.
Put simply, JUF was made for this.
The ability to respond in a time of crisis is JUF's reason for being. It's what we were built to do. Backed by the most far-sighted lay leaders in the world and the most generous community on the planet, we have developed the wherewithal, experience, and expertise to care for the community with unmatched effectiveness and efficiency.
We are fortunate to have exceptional partners who maximize our ability to be strategic with the community's
Together with four major foundations, JUF is continually analyzing COVID-related needs across the community, conducting a series of surveys canvassing hundreds of service providers. This needs assessment is of paramount importance in pinpointing where scarce resources will have the greatest impact in the community.
A committee of remarkable lay leaders from across Jewish Chicago lend JUF a diverse depth of talent, insight, and expertise to approaching our COVID-19 grantmaking. This committee meets regularly to discuss emerging COVID-related needs and to provide emergency grants to address them.
How were we able to marshal the means to help so many so swiftly?
It's thanks to the strength of the JUF Annual Campaign. Leveraging resources from the annual campaign, endowment, and access to additional credit, along with the support of other funders, is how we could make it happen.
That's the power and the promise of collective action.
Together, we as a community are saving lives, caring for those in need, performing acts of loving kindness, and providing safe avenues for connection. At JUF, this is our mission every day-and during crises like this.
Stark moments in time like this demonstrate why our community needs this strong system and its network of safety net services-why we need JUF-always at the ready.
Lonnie Nasatir is the President of the Jewish United Fund of Chicago.