This week marked the anniversary of the first Covid case reported in the New York area. Almost exactly a year ago, to comfort members of the New Rochelle Jewish community who were among the first quarantined, we delivered Shabbat meals repurposed from a postponed UJA event. Back then, we couldn’t bring ourselves to say events were “canceled,” thinking surely in a month or two life would return to normal.
Never could we have imagined what would be endured and for how long.
To acknowledge the terrible loss of more than 500,000 lives, our shared sense of heartache, and also our communal strength and resiliency, on Tuesday we held a community-wide event of healing and hope. More than 150 community partners and rabbis from across the denominational spectrum joined, along with front-line heroes who lit candles in honor of those we lost. We heard a deeply moving rendition of “B’Sheim Hashem/The Angels’ Prayer,” led by Neshama Carlebach and accompanied by students from Jewish day schools around New York and older adults from DOROT, a UJA partner.
As we mark this period, it’s also an appropriate time to share our 2020 Annual Report, an accounting of our work over the last year. You can read the report here.
This past year showed that, in the worst of times, our community was at its very best. From the first days of the crisis, we pivoted to meet widespread and rapidly evolving needs. Longstanding relationships with Albany and City Hall meant we could advocate powerfully on behalf of our network. At every step, we were the safety net for the safety net. We ensured that our nonprofit network could continue to deliver indispensable services, and we helped to sustain the essential communal infrastructure that enables Jewish life to flourish in New York.
Only a federation — with our scale, relationships, and expertise — could have mounted such an expansive response on behalf of the New York Jewish community.
But we also recognize that there’s still so much more to do. Today that means — among many other priorities — getting the most vulnerable vaccinated, making sure low-income Jewish New Yorkers have food this Passover, and doing what’s needed to open Jewish day and overnight camps this summer.
There’s still a very long and challenging road ahead to address the effects of the pandemic. So for just this moment, then, let’s pause to reflect on the events of this past year. And then let’s recommit to doing all we can to support our community as we travel that road — together.