Global Jewish Response.
Last year, when COVID-19 hit and the world was forever changed, JDC didn’t skip a beat. As the global Jewish 9-1-1, we quickly leveraged our 106+ years of expertise and experience responding to crises to aid tens of thousands of people around the world.
We adapted our already vital life-saving services and community building programs to meet emerging needs introduced by the pandemic, and today, we continue to work to respond to this new reality, ensuring we remain able serve those who depend on us every day.
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pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been delivered to homecare workers throughout the world
people in Ethiopia, Indonesia, and beyond were reached by a JDC social media campaign focused on handwashing and other public health best practices
elderly and at-risk Jews across the former Soviet Union continued to receive lifesaving support from JDC, without interruption
Our Global Response
Providing Aid to
Every day, disadvantaged Jews around the world depend on JDC for lifesaving services including homecare and basic necessities like food and medicine. As the pandemic advanced and soon changed daily life, the needs of these Jews intensified. We responded urgently, ensuring the most vulnerable can continue to depend on us, even during extraordinary times.
Aiding the World’s Poorest Jews
Utilizing emergency funding and our existing infrastructure, including JDC’s vast network of Hesed social welfare centers we continued to meet the needs of our most vulnerable clients. During the pandemic, these centers distributed food and medicine, trained homecare workers, and provided critical health and safety information to isolated elderly Jews with nowhere else to turn. In addition, more than 6,000 volunteers from 44 JDC-supported Volunteer Centers immediately deployed to help their community members — making essential deliveries of food and medicine, tutoring children online, and helping the elderly maintain connections with friends and family by teaching them how to use smartphones.
The pandemic also created a secondary crisis for many of our elderly clients: isolation and loneliness. In response, we launched hotlines and expanded our volunteer-led call centers in the FSU where, in the past year, more than 123,000 calls were made. We also started JOINTECH, an innovative program designed to keep our clients connected to community activities through specially designed smartphones for the elderly. Beginning with a pilot in Moldova and Ukraine, this program is now expanding across the FSU.
Supporting Jewish Families
Amidst rising unemployment and debt, the pandemic has resulted in the emergence of new poor families and elderly turning to their local Jewish communities for support for the first time. In Europe, Latin America, and North Africa, JDC responded to calls for help by leveraging its strong ties with Jewish communities to aid families in need.
To assist this new class of Jewish poor, JDC, along with several key partners, developed the Emergency Humanitarian Relief Fund, which complemented local welfare efforts by supporting families in distress, distributing aid to more than 1,600 families in the last year.
In addition, volunteers mobilized to assist parents with childcare. For many children, stuck at home and in need of school help, JDC sent local volunteers to assist them with their homework. Meanwhile, more than 9,000 children in the FSU – many with disabilities – have received monthly financial aid for food, medicine, and other basics.
In Israel, the vulnerable groups we work with — the elderly, people with disabilities, youth and families at risk, and underserved populations – were heavily impacted by the pandemic. To mitigate this crisis, we leveraged our ongoing partnership with the Government of Israel to quickly adapt, developing innovative programs to provide long-term medical and humanitarian care solutions for those who need it most.
Care for the Elderly and Families at Risk
JDC delivered essential care services and meals and deployed trained volunteers to address the needs of elderly Israelis and families at risk in hundreds of locations. In addition, we have worked to alleviate the chronic loneliness and isolation that many elderly Israelis face by pairing more than 5,400 elderly clients – many of them Holocaust survivors – with volunteers who maintain daily contact and provide homecare.
Financial Assistance to Young Adults
Since COVID-19 began, many young adults now face economic hardship: debt, unemployment, and eviction. In response, JDC has provided over $4.2 million in rent subsidies and food vouchers to thousands of young adults across Israel, putting them on a direct path to financial stability and employment.
COVID-19 has brought mass unemployment to Israel, throwing many families into poverty. That’s why JDC leveraged Families First, a JDC initiative that has worked with 13,000 families in 113 cities to map their paths out of poverty. Social workers visit clients over Zoom and WhatsApp, giving them up-to-date information on housing, jobs, and various social services.
Cultivating a Jewish Future
Around the world, JDC has continued to nourish peoples’ Jewish connections and communal bonds by adapting and transitioning much of its programming and events to online platforms. Through virtual experiences, we strengthened organizations such as Junction (in Europe) and Active Jewish Teens (AJT), JDC’s youth network in the former Soviet Union (FSU) in partnership with BBYO and the Genesis Philanthropy Group. Amidst the isolation of pandemic, these programs have given youth the chance to continue to volunteer, make friends, and develop leadership skills.
For the larger population, JDC-supported Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) have become virtual hubs for Jewish programming and volunteer efforts. Zoom events, like virtual dance parties and Shabbat services, have expanded the scope and reach of Jewish community events locally and across continents.
IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD
COVID-19 has worsened many of the challenges that developing countries commonly face: poverty, disease, and economic instability. In response to this global crisis, and guided by our Jewish values, JDC has reached beyond the Jewish world to support many of these communities by providing economic empowerment, health programs, and disaster response.
JDC has helped minimize the spread of COVID-19 in the developing world. In the past year, we supplied more than 12,000 people in India and Indonesia with hygiene kits, and more than 15,200 people in Indonesia and India with handwashing stations. And 1.2 million people in Ethiopia, Indonesia, and beyond were reached through a social media campaign focused on handwashing and other public health best practices. These measures have slowed the spread of the disease and provided these communities with much-needed sanitation technology.
COVID-19 has destabilized developing economies throughout the world. In response, JDC has strengthened empowerment programs like Tikkun Olam Ventures (TOV), JDC’s innovative program that provides access to Israeli agricultural technology and Jewish philanthropic loans to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia. TOV helps lift these vulnerable farmers out of poverty through an innovative philanthropic loan fund that provides fairly priced loans, Israeli agritech and training, and access to new markets.