Ten days ago, we allocated over $23 million in our first wave of emergency funding to expand essential food programs and to help ensure that indispensable human service agencies have the operational capacity to stay open for business.

Today, in a second wave of funding, UJA’s Board of Directors voted to allocate nearly $11 million to help sustain Jewish community centers, assist low-income populations, and — in what is perhaps our most sacred responsibility — ensure that no Jewish casualty of the virus will be denied a dignified burial. In total, UJA has now made more than $34 million available to respond to this unprecedented crisis

This new funding will be distributed to meet the following critical needs:

1) Sustaining Jewish Community Centers: The 22 Jewish community centers across the New York area are communal homes, offering a combination of human services and opportunities for Jewish life and learning. Many JCC budgets rely on fee-based programming (e.g. daycare or gym memberships) that have been suspended indefinitely. JCCs are struggling to maintain empty facilities, pay obligations, and keep essential staff due to limited cash reserves. We’re allocating nearly $10 million, in a combination of interest-free loans and grants, to help sustain JCCs through this crisis.  

2) Urgent Funds for Low-Income CUNY Hillel Students: CUNY students are often the first in their families to attend college, and most hold jobs to pay for their education. Many are now without their part-time jobs, leaving them with no source of income for food, rent, and tuition. We’re allocating $250,000 in emergency cash support for low-income CUNY Hillel students.  

3) Urgent Funds for Low-Income Single Parents: The current situation is having an outsized impact on those single parents who are poor or near-poor. They need help to meet basic expenses for food, medical care, and rent. We’re allocating $300,000 to six JCCs, longtime participants in our Single Parent Initiative, to provide emergency support for low-income single parents. 

4) Ensuring Dignified Burial: Hebrew Free Burial Association, a UJA partner, is dedicated to ensuring that every Jew regardless of financial means or religious affiliation can receive a dignified, traditional funeral and burial. Tragically, the agency expects a 20-30% increase in burials in the next few months. We’re allocating $250,000 to ensure dignified burials — the ultimate final kindness.  

These are all very painful issues we need to grapple with. While it feels like a sprint, we’re facing a marathon of need, and we’re only in the first few miles. But this moment is exactly why UJA-Federation exists. We will continue to meet challenges across the community, help sustain our institutions, and do all we can to make sure that the most vulnerable get the help they desperately need.

If you can, please consider supporting these efforts. Everything we make possible is with thanks to your ongoing support in times of crisis and every day.