‘Our Jewish values don’t pause for the pandemic’

Together for good in 2020—and always

Marc_Spellman_David_Prystowsky image
The author, with his friend and staff partner, JUF Campaign Vice President David Prystowsky, in the Old City of Jerusalem, on a recent JUF Nachshon Mission.

A few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, JUF debuted a series of ads that reminded our community: This is what we were made for . Truer words were never spoken. Responding in times of crisis is JUF's purpose, and the pandemic put us to the test.

I'd say we passed.

When people were hungry, JUF ramped up support for food pantries and meal programs. When families needed cash to make ends meet, we provided it. When healthcare workers and caregivers of seniors and people with disabilities needed PPE, we supplied it. When our Jewish agencies and schools faced increased costs and decreased revenue, we helped them plug the gaps.

While JUF continued to prioritize raising necessary funds for our community, we understood the world had changed and that moment required a different approach. Now, JUF isn't known for the subtlety of our fundraising - but this time was different. In the early days of the pandemic, when our community was frightened and hurting, it just felt more appropriate for JUF to provide help to the community first and ask for help from the community second.

So instead of doubling down on fundraising, we focused on how we could help bring the community together.

At first, we didn't really know what it meant to conduct a meeting via Zoom or to livestream an event. We weren't sure if any in-person gatherings could be safe.  We were forced to think differently - to reimagine some of the ways we operated - and embraced that as an opportunity to deepen relationships, to help people feel a sense of community connection when they needed it most.

I'm so inspired by the creativity that's come out of this; the events that have evolved, the relationships that have blossomed. I have my extraordinary staff partner, JUF Campaign Vice President David Prystowsky, to thank for much of that. During the pandemic, JUF has grown our capacity to go out into the community to talk and - more importantly - to listen.

However, as the year draws to a close, it's time for those of us who are able to give to do so. Together, we must make up for the revenue the 2020 Annual Campaign has lost from cancelled events and from donors who are currently unable to give.

While it may feel like some aspects of our daily lives are on pause, our Jewish values don't pause for the pandemic. One of those values is that we are all responsible for one another. And there are many people in need in our community who are counting on us now.

We are all caught in the same storm, but we are not all in the same kind of boat. Some of us are rowing furiously - and if you or someone you love needs assistance at this time, our agencies stand at the ready to help (call 855-275-5237). But if it's mostly smooth sailing in your household, now is the time when JUF needs all hands on deck. Please be as generous as you can and make your gift to the 2020 JUF Annual Campaign today.

At JUF, we say we are together for good, and I truly believe that. I trust that those in the community who are able will come through for the 2020 JUF Annual Campaign now.

I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your generosity.

Marc Spellman is the 2020 JUF Annual Campaign Chair. 


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