Letter to the editor,
In the Aug. 15, 2020, edition of the Atlanta Jewish Times, Michael Morris wrote an article entitled, “Our Rabbis and Synagogues Need Us.” I thought his message was on point and could be extended to include all Jewish nonprofit organizations.
COVID-19 has hit our nonprofit agencies really hard. In March, most agencies had a 9-day survival plan, with a few thinking 180 days. Most did not believe what has turned into a reality: Jewish nonprofits are typically seeing a 20 to 35% reduction in revenue as of today.
As the side effects of the pandemic drag on for another nine to 12 months, the revenues will most assuredly decrease even more. A vaccine won’t provide a quick economic recovery because of the domino effect that has reached virtually everyone, one way or another. Sadly, not all of the synagogues, JCCs, senior living facilities, day schools, senior programming, or family services will survive in their current form. Most simply didn’t/don’t have financial reserves or benefactors. A few, due to their endowment funds, will survive unscathed, but that will be the exception. This demise will affect us all!
The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta’s emergency campaign was manna for a lot of local agencies. The Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s JCamp 180 provided emergency matching grants for Jewish camps that couldn’t open. Many foundations and endowment funds pumped money into our community. But that was a short-term fix.
Our community will need more assistance from those who have a financial capacity, and from some who just need to dig deeper in their pockets as endowment funds are drained and emergency funds disappear.
High holiday giving is paramount to our synagogues’ survival as it’s typically 10 to 25% of their annual budget. Without a successful appeal, staff/clergy may need to be reduced. I cringe just typing that sentence.
I’m encouraging and pleading with those who can to support their synagogues, JCC, Jewish day schools and the hundreds of nonprofits that count on us.
Many of us want to return to that touchy-feely sensation of in-person attendance and participation, but will those agencies be there when we’re on the other side of COVID-19? They will be, if we all contribute to their survival.
Please remain a member in good standing by paying your membership dues and contributing to fundraising campaigns, regardless of your current level of involvement and benefit, or lack thereof. You’ll be setting an example for your kids and grandchildren.
These organizations need us now, more than ever, and we and future generations need them.
Lee N. Katz, Atlanta