As we settle into our “new normal”, we find ourselves at the intersection of health and illness, routine and uncertainty, the predictable and the unknown. Around the world, we are seeing vibrant, bustling cities fairly quickly transformed into anxiety-laden ghost towns as this novel Coronavirus makes its invisible rounds.

Yet, amidst the uncertainty, this much we know: The measures we take today will determine how quickly we emerge from this crisis and how capably we limit its damage. Cautionary orders to limit gatherings, to refrain from visiting and thereby perhaps exposing the vulnerable, and to distance ourselves from our friends and neighbors are meant to limit the spread of the COVID-19 so we do not overwhelm our health care system and exact a toll we could otherwise have avoided. These seemingly drastic guidelines are not issued lightly, and their success requires that we – all of us - take them seriously.

The Federation’s Board of Trustees met today and focused on understanding and addressing the impact of this situation on our community.

The Board unanimously voted to empower the leadership of the Federation to investigate and assess immediate needs, and to act when and where we can. Support, including emergency disbursements for the most acute and immediate needs, will be considered and acted upon. We will continue working with our community partners on this matter through the Federation’s Jewish Response and Action Network (JRAN) as well as other partnerships, networks and affiliations, to consider the longer-term impacts and needs of our community. 

As Jewish Houstonians, we have been here before, and in recent times. We reluctantly have become experts in resiliency and this challenge is no different. We cannot and must not do this alone. Each stakeholder and institution in our community has a role to play, and we need your help.

First, right now, the ERJCC Meals on Wheels program needs drivers to deliver meals and essential supplies to our homebound seniors. If you are healthy, please take a shift. You can contact Kari Stein for more information. Volunteer Houston, run by Interfaith Ministries, has several urgent needs and they would appreciate your help.   

Additionally, our Jewish-owned restaurants, small businesses, agencies and schools need us. They feed us, they employ us, they care for us and they teach our children. In order to ensure they are here for the long-term, we need to show our support now more than ever.

We encourage you, to the best of your abilities to:
  1. Order to-go or delivery meals from our Kosher restaurants
  2. Purchase gift cards from or e-shop at Jewish-owned small businesses
  3. Ask our agencies where and how they could use your help and
  4. Continue to support our Jewish private schools through the continuation of tuition payments or through other avenues of support.

With regard to our day schools and preschools, if you are affected by this crisis in a way that puts into question your ability to continue the Jewish education you’ve sought for your children, please let your school know so we can best assess the impact of this crisis on our school community.

Let’s take care of each another. This means refraining from mass-purchasing items from grocery stores so there are enough supplies for all who need them, staying home at the onset of sickness so it does not spread to others, and taking time for self-care . This also means touching base with our neighbors in our community, and the institutions which have nurtured our families, to ask what we can do for them.

Let us continue to be Houston Strong so that our vibrant Jewish community will emerge from this latest challenge intact, in health and in collaboration so that what comprises this remarkable Jewish community will only be strengthened l’dor v’dor—from generation to generation.