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In a time of crisis, embracing our purpose

COVID-19 has upended our daily routines and transformed life as we know it, but It also offers us a moment of great clarity about what matters most: Health. Family. Community. 

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"Emergency department nurses don protective gear and prepare to care for COVID-19 patients at Mount Sinai Hospital."

It is Jewish tradition to say a prayer upon awakening, Modeh ani , in which we thank God for returning our soul to us each morning. This message of daily gratitude is a powerful one, and it has never resonated with me more than in the midst of this pandemic.  

COVID-19 has upended our daily routines and transformed life as we know it, but It also offers us a moment of great clarity about what matters most: Health. Family. Community. 

For me, part of that clarity is a renewed appreciation for the role JUF plays in our community. The ability to respond in a time of crisis is JUF's reason for being-it's literally why we exist-and I'm so proud and grateful for our Chicago Jewish community's support of the JUF Annual Campaign, which makes everything we do possible. Leveraging the strength of that Annual Campaign, we are providing a steady stream of emergency funding to fuel the lifesaving human services that are sustaining people in need. 

I'm talking about the healthcare heroes at Mount Sinai putting their lives on the line to heal the sick… 

Workers on the front line at JCFS Chicago providing compassionate counseling and emergency cash to people in crisis... 

Caregivers at CJE SeniorLife, so ably attending to our elders, and at Keshet, Libenu, and Yachad, so wonderfully supporting people with disabilities… 

SHALVA's dedicated team, assisting survivors of domestic violence with multi-faceted support, under these potentially turbulent circumstances… 

Our overseas partners at JAFI, JDC, and World ORT, who are delivering necessities to Jews in need around the world-especially in our Israeli Partnership Together region of Kiryat Gat-Lachish-Shafir... 

Staff and volunteers at The ARK, EZRA, Maot Chitim, and the Jewish Food Service Collaborative who are helping to ensure that no one goes to bed hungry… 

Educators with JCC Chicago who are engaging people of all ages in online learning and activities, keeping their sense of Jewish connection strong…

The Holocaust Community Services corps providing a lifeline to Holocaust survivors with multi-faceted needs, exacerbated by the trauma of this pandemic...

 Our amazing JUF staff, which hasn't skipped a beat in working remotely, serving our community with passion and purpose. 

In the weeks and months to come, we will continue to steadily funnel millions of emergency dollars into four areas of community need: 

  • Emergency Financial Aid -cash for housing, food, medical care, & other essentials for those in crisis
  • Increased food assistance -expansion of food pantries, grocery gift cards, & meal programs
  • Health & Safety -enhanced staffing, counseling, & PPE for medical staff and other caregivers
  • Community Stability -emergency operating support for local Jewish human service agencies

Together, we will ensure that children won't go to bed hungry. Families will keep a roof overhead. Our health care heroes will get the equipment and support they need to stay safe and centered, and people who are sick and vulnerable will get the care they deserve. And the agencies that make our community so vibrant will be able to stay the course, to ensure our community's future vitality. 

We are in the midst of what may be the defining moment of our lifetime, and a lot of people are looking to JUF for answers. We will provide them, backed by the most generous and committed community in the world. We will do so with appreciation for our own daily blessings and with gratitude for the chance to make a difference in the lives of others. 

At this unique moment in history, our tagline, Together for Good, takes on added significance. We will get through this together, as a community. 

Lonnie Nasatir is the President and Chief Executive of the Jewish United Fund of Chicago.


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