I’m writing first to send love and care to you, JUFJ’s community. These are surreal times, and many of us are experiencing waves of disruption and anxiety as the impacts of the pandemic continue to ripple out. Now is the time to lean hard into ancient Jewish truths: that strength comes from community; that we are all responsible for one another. You are the community that makes JUFJ strong — and we are committed to being here for you, for our partners, and for our region.
We also wanted to let you know about some big changes we are making for the next few weeks. Our tradition is absolutely clear that pikuach nefesh, preserving life and health, outweighs almost all other values. As the Talmud says, saving even a single life is like saving an entire world, while destroying a life is like destroying an entire world. In that light, we are doing the following to help keep you, our community, our partners, and our region safer:
- All in-person JUFJ and JUFJ Campaign Fund events will be moved online, postponed, or canceled until at least March 31. Our staff is hard at work to find new ways of creating connection and community for us all in these challenging times.
- We are, sadly, canceling our in-person Labor Seder and Social Justice Seder. We know that the seders are a beloved annual tradition for many. But stay tuned: leaders and staff are working to bring you alternative JUFJ seder resources in the coming weeks. If you already purchased a seder ticket, or signed up as a sponsor, you can either turn your gift into a fully tax-deductible charitable donation to JUFJ, or you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a refund.
- JUFJ staff are working remotely, starting today. You can reach us at our usual email addresses and leave us voicemail at our usual numbers.
Last, but most definitely not least, one thing we know is that this pandemic will have the most terrible effect on workers who cannot access paid leave, families with insecure housing, people with underlying health conditions, older adults, and other high risk or vulnerable populations. Thanks to you, JUFJ has campaigned for twenty years alongside workers advocating for their rights and pushed elected officials to address housing and employment needs for all residents. We are committed to continuing that fight through this pandemic.
Here’s how you can help right now:
- If you live in Maryland, tell your state legislators to support paid family and medical leave for all workers, so that anyone with a sick or vulnerable relative can stay home to care for them, and so that quarantined people can still get paid.
- If you live in DC, share these graphics created by DC Jobs With Justice on your social media platform of choice to make sure workers in your networks know their rights and can take sick leave without fear of retaliation.
Over the next few weeks we will be in touch with other actions you can take from your own home.
Thank you for everything you do for JUFJ, for each other, and for the community. Chazak v’ematz — be strong and courageous, and stay well.
Shabbat shalom. A peaceful and healthy weekend to all,
Rabbi Elizabeth Richman