Socially distant, but spiritually connected: that is the theme of this year’s Annual Campaign. In choosing a theme, we knew the landscape of COVID would have to be acknowledged. We have all heard these sound bites recently: “we are all in this together” and “this is an unprecedented time.” All of this is true, but, as a person that works with details, I want to share with you what I have come to know in recent weeks.
I have been working with our local Jewish organizations as we begin the process of allocating funds and it has become clear the COVID crisis has had a dramatic affect on all of our local institutions. Our beloved Jewish Community Center has lost many of its sources of income this year: preschool and after-school enrollment has dropped greatly, and membership and programming revenue have hit rock-bottom. While the JCC summer camp met with success, it was not able to bring in the revenue for which it was budgeted.
Hillel Academy, our local Hebrew day school, has had to make costly adjustments to its day-to-day learning environment and is losing thousands of dollars it typically makes in fund-raising efforts. The Reporter, our local Jewish newspaper that keeps us all connected, has suffered financial losses from a large drop in ad sales revenue. Jewish Family Service has seen an enormous increase in requests for its support since the COVID crisis began. Lastly, as the world experiences economic crisis due to COVID related shut downs, the Jewish Federation of North America and its social service programs have become a critical lifeline for Jews in need around the globe.
The mission of the Jewish Federation is to create a caring, vibrant, enduring community. Your support is critical right now. The money we raise from the Federation Annual Campaign is a lifeline to all of our local Jewish organizations and our Jewish neighbors in need. I am asking each of you, during this difficult time, to please search your heart. What does it mean to you to live in a Jewish community? Where would we be without each other and without the Jewish institutions that are a refuge for this community? We know there are some community members who will not be able to give this year. If you are able to contribute, please consider helping us to make up the shortfall.
To our community members who have pledged early, I say “thank you.” To those who have not yet made a pledge, please help reduce our volunteer hours by doing so at www.jfgb.org or by sending in the coupon on page 5.
I am so very grateful for the generosity and compassion of the Binghamton community. The COVID pandemic is sure to bring many challenges in the new year, but, though we may be socially distant, we are spiritually connected as Jewish people. May the new year bring you all good health and much joy.