05 May The Jewish Agency Launches COVID-19 Loan Fund for Communities in Crisis
The Jewish Agency for Israel is launching the ‘COVID-19 Loan Fund for Communities in Crisis,’ together with its partners Keren Hayesod and Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). This comes in response to urgent calls from communities and organizations in countries such as Italy, Spain, South Africa, South American communities, and others to provide immediate cash flow. This fund will provide no-interest loans to organizations providing services essential to the continuing existence of Jewish communities which are now at-risk to survive the COVID-19 crisis.
Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Isaac Herzog stated, “We are dealing with an unprecedented crisis that is impacting every aspect of life, including the Jewish world. The Jewish Agency, together with our partners at Keren Hayesod and JFNA, will work to ensure the continued existence of Jewish communities and their vital activities. The Jewish people are responsible for one another, now more than ever. And we welcome the support of all those that believe in Klal Yisrael.”
The COVID-19 crisis has impacted communal life throughout the Jewish world, bringing significant economic distress to many communities – including those that were previously financially stable. Many communities are now challenged to finance basic communal services. Educational activities have been discontinued, and essential welfare services are in danger of being closed.
The Jewish Agency COVID-19 Loan Fund for Communities in Crisis will provide immediate working capital loans, with no interest, to communities in-danger outside North America.
In its initial phase, the fund will total $10 million and will provide loans of up to $350,000 to each community or organization, enabling them to continue functioning during this challenging period. The loans will be provided for four years and will be repaid – with no interest – at the end of the first year, in four installments. Further information on applying for the loans can be found at https://www.jewishagency.org/communities-loan-fund/
The Fund will be overseen by representatives from the three partner organizations, chaired by leaders from The Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors, Beth Kieffer Leonard and Richard Pearlstone. They will be joined by an advisory committee comprised of financial experts from across Europe and South America, along with professionals from the various communities to help assess needs and design the appropriate response.
“Jewish communities all over the world are currently in real crisis, physically and emotionally, and in many places, Jewish institutions are being devastated,” said World Chairman of Keren Hayesod-UIA Sam Grundwerg. “Jews from all over the world have supported Israel from its establishment, and Israel – which bears a responsibility toward all Jews – is standing alongside these communities during these challenging times.”
“We are fortunate to have a global platform, built over decades in partnership with Jewish Federations, The Jewish Agency and Keren Hayesod, that can quickly and effectively respond to this pandemic,” added JFNA President and CEO Eric Fingerhut. “This new fund will help ensure the continuity of our vital Jewish communal infrastructure and enable us to renew and rebuild when the time comes.”
Several Italian Jewish communities have already requested assistance from the fund. They are in need of urgent financial support that will enable them to continue their regular activities and provide basic services to the communities over the course of the coming months. These communities have experienced serious hardships since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, with a sharp decline in its income due to the overall economic downturn. These are among the oldest Jewish communities in Europe with a rich history that has not only sustained vibrant Jewish life over the years, but also provided significant financial support to the establishment and support of the State of Israel.
“This is the hour for solidarity, to support a dedicated, Zionist community that has supported us for years and now needs support, until it can return to its glory. It is our moral duty as a global Jewish collective to be there for them and for many other communities in need at this difficult time,” said Jewish Agency CEO Amira Ahronoviz.
The Jewish Agency’s global presence gives the organization unique insight into the needs of Jewish communities the world over, together with its significant experience responding to global crises in a systematic and impactful way. After a 2012 school attack in Toulouse, France, The Jewish Agency responded by raising millions of dollars for a security fund that now supports the critical need for increased security at Jewish institutions throughout the world. The Jewish Agency, together with partners, has established and managed a fund for victims of terror in Israel and those living on the Gaza border.
The Jewish Agency has also administered a loan fund for small Israeli businesses for over 20 years, including working with companies that have been devastated by their proximity to the line of fire during wartime. Most recently, The Jewish Agency, with the assistance of JFNA and other partners, established an emergency loan fund for Israeli nonprofits facing unprecedented financial pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Jewish Agency is in a unique position to convene this relief effort together with our partners. In light of the great need for assistance, The Jewish Agency also calls on other philanthropic foundations and organizations to join in rescuing Jewish communities on the verge of collapse. Those interested in joining may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.