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A lifeline for JCCs, British Jews take a hit, cleaning the Western Wall
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Coronavirus 2020Daily Update

A lifeline for JCCs, British Jews take a hit, cleaning the Western Wall

A warning about the coronavirus is posted in the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, March 26, 2020. (Justin Thomas/Flickr Commons)
A warning about the coronavirus is posted in the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, March 26, 2020. (Justin Thomas/Flickr Commons)

To help sustain the 22 regional JCCs in the city, Westchester and Long Island, UJA-Federation of New York is allocating nearly $10 million in interest-free loans and grants. JCCs are “struggling to maintain empty facilities, pay obligations, and keep essential staff due to limited cash reserves,” the philanthropy said.

Eric Goldstein, UJA-Federation’s CEO, said in a statement that the assistance to the JCCs is part of an $11 million allocation that is in addition to the $23 million disbursed last week to provide emergency funding for essential food programs and to provide its network of human service agencies with cash flow.

The majority of Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. are closed to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and many have furloughed or laid off most of their staff members.

The 250,000 Jews in the United Kingdom represent a disproportionate number of coronavirus deaths, JTA reports. While the country’s Jews represent only 0.3 percent of the U.K.’s population, the disease has killed 44 known Jewish victims, about 2.5 percent of the total U.K. tally.

Experts attribute the anomaly to the community’s mobility, the advanced age of many members, and the large crowds that Purim celebrations drew recently. While Jews do seem to be overrepresented in the national death tally, “the numbers of Jewish deaths being reported so far are, statistically, very small – too small to draw any firm conclusions,” wrote Jonathan Boyd, the executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

Reports of failures to observe social distancing protocols at some haredi Orthodox synagogues and institutions have raised concerns about the spread of the virus among that specific denomination, according to JTA.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee announced on Tuesday that it is canceling this summer’s session of Szarvas — JDC-Lauder international Jewish summer camp in Hungary due to the coronavirus. More than 20,000 people, mostly young members of Europe’s Jewish community, have attended Szarvas sessions in the last 30 years.

Israel

The number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 reached 5,591 on Wednesday.

The country’s two chief rabbis have declared that people should not leave their homes to burn their chometz this year and instead throw their leavened products, foodstuffs forbidden on Passover, in a garbage bin and pour bleach on it to render it inedible, the i24NEWS website reports.

The stones of the Western Wall, in whose crevices worshippers leave notes and prayers, were cleaned and sanitized Tuesday ahead of Passover. The small pieces of paper are removed annually before Pesach and the High Holidays, and buried with other sacred papers according to Jewish law in the cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

Israel ranks in first place in the international COVID-19 Health Safety Countries Ranking by the Deep Knowledge Group. Israel received a score of 619, Singapore came in second with 600, and Slovakia in third with 580.

The United States was ranked 27th on the list with a score of 140.

Israeli humanitarian aid agency IsraAID will provide support to volunteers and professionals responding to the coronavirus crisis in Italy, which has been among the countries worst-affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deaths

Steve Steiner, who held top public relations positions at the Orthodox Union and UJA-Federation, died on Monday of illness believed to be complicated by the coronavirus, JTA reports. He was 75. Mr. Steiner was a 1966 graduate of Columbia University, where he majored in history. He went on to earn a master’s from the university in the same subject.

Streaming

Ashley Blaker, a rising haredi stand-up comic from England who has starred in a series of well-attended performances in the United States in the last year, will star in a one-man show on Sunday at 3 p.m. that will have no one in the audience. Blaker will be performing alone onstage at the completely empty theatre of JW3 — the Jewish Community Centre for London.

David Kilimnick, Rochester-born stand-up comic and comedy club owner in Jerusalem, offers his thoughts on “Jewish Communal Traditions Under Quarantine” in an aish.com essay.

The Union for Reform Judaism is providing a variety of Passover resources helping people “remain connected and Jewishly engaged at this time.” There are resources for congregational leadership; for other members of the Jewish community; and for people who will lead a virtual seder.

T’ruah-The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, will host a webinar on Wednesday at 3 p.m. for people who will host their own seders next week. “Simple tips” to make their seders “meaningful instead of daunting” will be offered by several experts, including Ellen Lippmann, rabbi emerita of Kolot Chayeinu in Brooklyn, and Ronit Schlam, T’ruah’s Director of Individual Giving

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs will hold a webinar on “Coronavirus in Prisons, Jails: An Emergency We Need to Address NOW,” on Thursday at 2 p.m. The online event will address the situation of the nearly 2.1 million people behind bars in this country.

The Hampton Synagogue has pre-recorded Passover prayers and a seder led by Rabbi Marc Schneier, to be broadcast via Jewish Broadcasting Service television station on April 8 at 5-6 p.m., 8-9 p.m. and 11 p.m.-midnight. It will air again on April 9. The pre-recorded Passover evening prayers will air on April 10 at 5p.m. and 10 p.m., and the morning prayer will air on April 11 at 11 a.m. The Hampton Synagogue is the only traditional Orthodox synagogue in the country to have its services be televised nationally.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage will sponsor a live Facebook discussion on “Seders in the Time of Coronavirus – Food, Ritual, and Resiliency” on Thursday at 2 p.m. Participants will include food journalist Liza Schoenfein and Adeena Sussman, author of “Sababa: Fresh Sunny Flavors from my Israeli Kitchen,” in conversation with Jane Eisner, director of academic affairs for the Columbia School of Journalism Graduate Program and former Editor-in-Chief of The Forward.

A coalition of Conservative organizations will hold a Facebook Live “Global Gathering for Healing,” featuring rabbis and prominent singing artists (including David Broza) on Sunday at noon. The event, which will include musicians from Israel, England, Brazil, and the United States, is sponsored by Masorti Olami, Masorti Israel, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and several other groups.

UJA-Federation of New York has compiled a guide to help the Jewish community find advice, resources and volunteer opportunities for learning during the virus outbreak. UJA and the Jewish Board also have listings of volunteer opportunities.

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