Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit provides insight on their actions taken against COVID-19.

This is an extraordinarily difficult and unprecedented time for Jewish Detroit.

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, we are all thinking of the health and wellbeing of our loved ones — our children and spouses, parents and grandparents and many others. We are also deeply concerned for the welfare of our Jewish community, whose schools and congregations, agencies and organizations are all facing enormous pressure, even as the demand for services increases.

Our most immediate concern is for the thousands of vulnerable individuals for whom this outbreak presents a grave threat, including our large population of older adults, families with financial needs, individuals with disabilities and others.

As the steward of our community, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit has been leading an urgent and coordinated response. Federation and its network of agencies and partners across the community are working in close collaboration to ensure that support is available to those in need, and to anticipate future needs that may arise — whether it be food and shelter, medicine and health supplies, mental health services or anything else of critical concern. 

We wanted to share some of the specific actions we have taken to date:

• We have appointed Matt Lester, incoming Federation president, and Dennis Bernard, incoming United Jewish Foundation president, to lead a Task Force. The Task Force will oversee the COVID-19 Emergency Campaign, manage the allocation of resources and strategically address related concerns confronting our community agencies and organizations. The Emergency Campaign will secure the funds necessary to ensure that our agencies are able to continue providing essential services to our most vulnerable individuals.

• Thanks to a strong Annual Campaign, the Jewish Federation and its fiduciary partner, the United Jewish Foundation, will be providing a contribution of $1.5 million in emergency funding to the effort.

• From the very start of the crisis, Federation convened its leadership team and agency executives to identify critical needs and coordinate response efforts. Federation has also been assessing needs across the community to understand and anticipate the resources that may be required to preserve the immediate and long-term wellbeing of the community. 

• Federation has been providing regular community-wide communications via email and social media to share information and identify important resources. We also deployed a community-wide Coronavirus Resource page at with links to Help, Connection, online Congregational services and other information. More information can be found on our Facebook page.

• Our community engagement teams, including NEXTGen Detroit, Women’s Philanthropy, Affinities and Israel and Overseas, have been moving programs online and developing new content that specifically address the emotional wellbeing of community members in light of the profound changes in our daily lives and interactions. You can find this and other programming on the resource page.

Looking ahead, we recognize that there is no roadmap for dealing with this crisis, no instruction manual to follow. Despite this, we know that together we will weather this storm, just as we have during times of crisis in the past. We are fortunate to live in one of the most generous and resilient communities anywhere, and we are exceptionally grateful for the many supporters and volunteers who have stepped up to lead this effort.

We will continue to keep you apprised of new resources and developments as we move through this challenge together.

May you and your loved ones stay well.

Beverly B. Liss is president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and Alan Jay Kaufman is president of the United Jewish Foundation of Metropolitan Detroit.