Jewish Federation of San Diego County

Supporting Our Seniors cover

Caring for Jews in Need

By David Bramzon
Chairman of the Board of Directors

It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment the world changed. Sometime in March, definitely by April, we all began to experience a new reality. The spread of and reaction to COVID-19 changed the world – not for some, but for all. No community, no demographic, no country is insulated. This is a truly universal challenge.

Perhaps the most vulnerable population is seniors. They are at higher risk of infection and they already face issues of isolation and loneliness. Now seniors are suffering even more from the necessary policy of social distancing. Many are lonelier than ever without family and friends to comfort them during this trying time. To make matters worse, some seniors are unable to obtain their daily food, medicine and home goods due to reduced social contact and limited transportation. Taking care of this especially vulnerable population is our obligation, and at the very core of Jewish values and beliefs.

The mission of Jewish Federation is to care for Jews in need. Today we are helping our senior population meet the challenges of this new world. We have contacted more than 1,500 Jewish seniors in San Diego to remind them they are not alone. We have identified many who are lacking basic daily necessities and are making sure these needs get addressed. Federation staff and volunteers have personally delivered food and other essentials, refusing to let a day pass without a response. In many cases, a greeting from a friendly voice is all a senior needs to feel cared for, appreciated and part of the community.

The economic damage as a result of the virus poses another threat to the community. Many businesses are at a standstill and employees are not getting paid. Valued institutions such as schools, community centers, synagogues and social service agencies are in dire financial straits. The livelihoods of our teachers, counselors and social workers are at stake. To prevent any Jewish communal professional from going without food or the ability to pay rent, we have raised nearly $2 million dollars thanks to the generosity of many donors to the San Diego Jewish Community COVID-19 Emergency Fund, a partnership between Jewish Federation, Jewish Community Foundation and Leichtag Foundation. In its early stages, the Fund allotted dollars to four organizations to meet their payrolls. And we are ready to help others as well. No one who educates our children or cares for our seniors should face this crisis-related financial hardship alone.

We do not know how long this will last or when we will return to normal. The current needs could increase and new ones may emerge. As this crisis continues and more people face economic, psychological and physical challenges, we anticipate more funds will be necessary. With the community’s assistance Jewish Federation and its partners and donors will be there to provide the support so many desperately need.

Please join us in caring for our fellow Jews in need. They need us now more than ever. To donate visit:

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Esteban Villanueva