Within a matter of a few short weeks, our everyday lives have been upended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many Jewish communities around the world, the Jewish community of Montreal has been hit hard by this crisis. Federation CJA has immediately leapt into action in collaboration with their agencies and community partners to ensure that needs continue to be met during this trying time. The Jewish Community Foundation has played a critical role in assisting Federation CJA, by immediately deploying $500,000 in much needed support from its emergency fund to assist frontline service providers from Federation CJA agencies and other community organizations like MADA, The Family Store, the Chessed Fund, synagogues and other organizations.
Within a few days of the initial announcement of school closures and social distancing measures, more than 200 volunteers were mobilized to provide immediate relief in several key areas. Ongoing food delivery services have been set up for the elderly, the immune compromised, and individuals who are not able to venture out. Delivery of kosher meals in a safe and contact-free manner ensure that no member of the community will go hungry during this crisis. Additionally, groceries, medications and household items are being delivered to these vulnerable groups.
Federation CJA and its affiliated social service agencies and partners have also banded together to distribute more than $500,000 worth of grocery gift cards to the community’s less fortunate, enabling them to purchase groceries and household items without worry during the initial weeks of this crisis.
Feelings of isolation and anxiety are being experienced by many at this uncertain time. A task force of volunteers has responded by making regular check-in calls to thousands of elderly and vulnerable members of the community, to continue the strong sense of support and connectedness generally provided by Federation CJA. A helpline has also been set up for individuals needing assistance.
With community resources quickly being strained, in late March, Federation CJA and The Jewish Community Foundation launched a Community Crisis Response Fund appealing to members of the community to join in their emergency support of the most at-risk members. Funds raised go directly to the agencies and partner institutions to continue providing the vital services already initiated for the duration of this evolving crisis. The community is responding and over $530,000 was raised after just a few days of the initial launch of the campaign.
“During these unprecedented times, we have seen the best of our Jewish community come together to respond to this crisis,” says Yair Szlak, CEO of Federation CJA. “COVID-19 does not distinguish between Sephardic or Ashkenazi; religious or secular or any of the other distinctions we have held onto in yesterdays. In times like this our strength is defined in our unity and resolve to support those who are vulnerable; the isolated seniors and holocaust survivors as well as families coping with loss of income due to layoffs. We are also united in our message of responsibility for one another, by staying home; isolating and making sure that this Passover is different from all others as we celebrate only with family members under our roofs. Most importantly, our collective prayers and thoughts are with those who are sick at this time as we wish them a Refuah Shlemah. Stronger together, the Montreal Jewish Community is resilient in the face of crisis.”
If you or someone you know needs help, please call 514-734-1411 or email [email protected]
To donate to the Community Crisis Response Fund: www.Federationcja.org/responsefund
To volunteer: www.federationcja.org/givehelp