6 Jewish coronavirus initiatives you can support from home


(JTA) — As the coronavirus continues to spread, synagogues, Jewish centers and other organizations that serve as gathering places for the community around the world have closed.

But even while communities cannot come together physically, some are still organizing projects to provide support to those who are suffering or at perilous risk amid the pandemic.

From phone counseling to sewing face masks to buying kosher food for Jewish doctors and nurses, there’s no shortage of ways to help.

Here’s a list of Jewish initiatives that you can support — without having to leave your house.

Get kosher food to Jewish health care workers

Journalist Bethany Mandel is raising money to provide kosher meals for observant Jewish health care providers and their co-workers. She has raised more than $16,000 through more than 200 individual donations, which have been used to order some 40 deliveries from restaurants to hospitals. She is partnering with restaurants in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Wisconsin for the deliveries. You can donate to the effort, titled Kosher19, here.

Areyvut, a New Jersey-based organization that engages Jewish youth, is delivering kosher meals to Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, a heavily Jewish township in New Jersey that has been hit hard by the virus. The organization has raised $4,000. You can donate here.

Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob, an Orthodox synagogue in Skokie, Illinois, also has raised $4,000, to deliver kosher food to local first responders. Donate here.

Sew face masks

A number of Jewish organizations are asking community members with sewing machines to help make face masks, which the CDC says helps lower coronavirus transmission rates. The Jewish Association on Aging, a senior care facility in Pittsburgh, is asking for face mask donations for its at-risk residents. Masks should be made following specific directions and can be dropped off or mailed to the facility.

Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob also is collecting masks locally. Those who want to get involved should email manyatreece@gmail.com.

Donate to produce medical face shields

Daniel Ostrov and Stephanie Cole assemble face shields in Kohelet Yeshiva High School’s “fab lab.” (Courtesy of Kohelet)

Kohelet Yeshiva High School, an Orthodox day school in suburban Philadelphia, has turned its high-tech arts center into a factory for making face shields for local doctors and nurses treating coronavirus patients. The shields are made of a transparent acrylic that covers medical providers’ entire faces to protect against bacteria and viruses that can be present in droplets when patients cough or sneeze.

The school has made 200 shields but recently started implementing a new production method that will allow it to significantly ramp up production. Kohelet has raised money to sustain production for five weeks and is raising additional funds here.

Send food to community members struggling with poverty

B’nai Brith Canada is raising emergency funds for needy Jewish community members in the Greater Toronto area, including seniors, who are struggling amid food pantry closures. You can donate here.

Masbia, a network of kosher soup kitchens in Brooklyn and Queens, is looking to raise $350,000 to provide food for 1,000 people who are quarantined amid the pandemic. Each box contains enough food to last 14 days. The organization has raised more than $100,000. Donate here.

Provide phone counseling

Ruach: Emotional and Spiritual Support is a group of Jewish therapists, social workers, rabbis and chaplains who are providing free emotional support to community members during the pandemic. Those looking to be counseled fill out a form to be paired with a provider who will call them for a 30-minute phone session.

The initiative, which is organized by Jewish doctoral student and spiritual care intern Taylor Winfield Haboucha, is seeking additional volunteers to offer care. Licensed therapists, social workers and clergy, as well as board-certified chaplains, can get more info and apply to participate by emailing RuachEmotionalandSpiritualCare@gmail.com.

Check up on Holocaust survivors

Chabad of Southwest Broward, Florida, is organizing volunteers to make daily and weekly calls to homebound Holocaust survivors and seniors. Though the seniors all live in South Florida, volunteers can sign up to make calls from anywhere by signing up here.

Recommended from JTA