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A year of generosity, a time of hope

Five hundred, twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes…how do you measure a year?

Lonnie_ChaiFive image

Five hundred, twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes…how do you measure a year?

As we mark the anniversary of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, most of all this year has been measured by our community's extraordinary acts of generosity--to one another, to our neighbors, and to those in need--which has made it possible for JUF to step up in a big way to meet the emergency needs created by the pandemic.  

Over the last year, JUF has distributed $19.1 million in COVID-19 Initiative emergency grants through 83 partner agencies and 66 synagogues-funds above and beyond JUF's regular annual allocations-to provide assistance in these key areas:  

  • Emergency Financial Aid ($6.75 million)--Cash grants for housing, food, medical care, and other essentials; scholarships; assistance through synagogues' Rabbinic Discretionary Funds. 

  • Increased Food Assistance ($2.62 million)--Expansion of food pantries, grocery gift cards, and meal programs for people of all faiths and backgrounds. 

  • Health & Safety ($4.37 million)--Enhanced staffing and PPE for Mt. Sinai Hospital and residences serving seniors and people with disabilities; safety upgrades and PPE for camps, preschools, day schools, and human service agencies. 

  • Extraordinary Social Services ($2.15 million)--Expanded mental health services; added career counseling; assistance for families coping with extended illness; bridges across the digital divide for low-income households. 

  • Community Stability ($3.19 million)--Emergency operating support and professional expertise for local Jewish human service agencies, day schools, youth groups, and Jewish camps to ensure future community vitality. 

Now it appears we have reached a turning point in the pandemic. While we know that intensified community needs will continue for some time, there is great hope on the horizon.  

As the vaccine rolls out, we are incredibly grateful to the everyday heroes who have helped keep our community safe, connected, and thriving throughout these many months.  

Each of us can think of special individuals who helped us get through this year, in ways large and small. These helpers and heroes deserve a "Chai Five"-so I've made $18 donations to honor each one of them.

  • To Jen Kopka and all the amazing instructors at All About Dance Chicago, for the incredible job the studio has done in taking my daughter's dance lessons online. You didn't skip a beat.  

  • To Rabbi Reuven Brand at the Community Kollel, for engaging me in virtual study. You brought Jewish values to life and helped keep me grounded during these demanding months. 

  • To Head of School Gary Weisserman and the terrific educators at Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, for seamlessly adapting to every scenario as it unfolded. You balanced safety with excellence. 

There's still time to Chai Five someone special who helped you. You can visit to make a gift and also tag them and @JUFChicago on social media. #ChaiFivetheHelpers #TogetherforGood 

We are together for good--and, as we look to the future, we will be together for better! 

Lonnie Nasatir is the President of the Jewish United Fund. 

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