A Message on COVID-19 from UJA's President & CEO Adam Minsky

Our community, along with the entire world, is gripped by the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. While Canada has seen few cases relative to other countries, health authorities warn that the numbers will climb in the coming days. They have asked Canadians to act now to protect public health, knowing that the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk – and early precautions will save lives. This is why UJA Federation is communicating with more than 100 Jewish institutions throughout the city, sharing practical tips and reasonable measures that can make a difference.

This is a moment of uncertainty and growing anxiety, which is being felt throughout our community. First and foremost, it is crucial to be vigilant in following all recommendations of medical authorities. At the same time, this is an opportunity to be creative in holding fast to something that makes our community unique: our deep sense of connectedness.

So much of Jewish life revolves around spending time with one another in person, be it at shul or day school, at the deli or laffa restaurant, and – in less than a month – at the seder table. Those communal experiences will almost certainly face enormous disruption as we, rightly, enter a period of social distancing.

At this challenging time, it’s more important than ever to maintain our community spirit and sense of connectedness without compromising on our health, and that those around us who are vulnerable.

Technology can play an incredibly valuable role. This is a great opportunity to regularly schedule “check-ins” by phone or Skype with elderly family, friends, or neighbours. Better yet, commit to doing so in a coordinated fashion as a synagogue or community group, ensuring an even greater impact.

This is just one idea for how we can take care of each other and counter psychological isolation, in a way that protects the health of the most vulnerable among us. In so doing, we can build our collective resilience and our community will emerge from this crisis with strength. As Jews, is there any other way forward?

Wishing you a peaceful and healthy Shabbat,

Adam Minsky
President & CEO
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto