The Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor is pleased to announce four local organizations, the Jewish Community Center, Hebrew Day School, Beth Israel Congregation, and Temple Beth Emeth have received grants of up to $15,000 to assist with reopening needs. The Federation’s Community Emergency Fund provided the funding. Established in March and seeded with $75,000 in Federation reserves, the Community Emergency Fund is a proactive and ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, it has raised $153,000 and provided over $80,000 to local organizations and individuals.

In June, Washtenaw County moved into Phase 4 of the Michigan Safe Start Plan, which allowed businesses, camps, and childcare centers to reopen under specific new safety measures, including providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees, increased cleanings, and adjustments to building layouts. In response to these and other requirements, Federation established an ongoing grant to help greater Ann Arbor’s Jewish institutions prepare for the unique needs brought forth by resuming aspects of in-person and virtual operations. Organizations are able to apply for funding to help with a variety of reopening needs, including purchasing of PPE, cleaning services, and technology for continuing operations remotely.

The Jewish Community Center applied its $15,000 in reopening funds to prepare the building for the opening of Camp Raanana and the Early Childhood Center (EEC), which included installing new exhaust fans, purchasing clear signage for inside and outside the building, and increasing cleaning services. Camp and the EEC have been successfully operating throughout the summer, allowing local families and kids the opportunity to reunite with friends, favorite teachers, and more. “Through this funding, Camp Raanana was able to ensure our campers had a safe space both within and outside the JCC building. With all that has happened these past few months, it was wonderful to be able to provide our campers with some normalcy and have another successful summer in the books.” shared Nikki Feinberg, Director of Camp and Youth.

Congregations are also preparing for when they can safely reopen for in-person services and programming. Temple Beth Emeth collaborated with Jim Fuller, a member of their congregation, to build two plexiglass stations for their sanctuary, with the grant money going toward the purchasing of the shields along with PPE for staff and visitors. Melissa Sigmond, Executive Director of Temple Beth Emeth shared that “while we do not have a set date for reopening in 2020, Temple Beth Emeth is focused on preparing our building, procuring necessary supplies and other related tasks so we are ready to pivot from our virtual setting to in-person.”

Preparing and pivoting are common themes of the past six months, with greater Jewish Ann Arbor discovering new ways to bring the community together through virtual programming and distanced gatherings. While things are bound to look different for the start of the school year and High Holidays, Hebrew Day School and Beth Israel are finding creative ways to gather for leaning and worship. Hebrew Day School utilized its $15,000 in reopening funds to ensuring students can safely return to the classroom and is also providing learning tools in case they need to stay home. Chrome laptops will be available to those in need and students who cannot attend in-person will be able to learn alongside their teachers and classmates through Swivl, a streaming technology that provides a highly interactive virtual learning experience.  Similar to a majority of congregations, Beth Israel is planning for a virtual High Holidays through streaming services. They have directed some of the awarded funding toward purchasing digital machzors for congregants and high quality cameras to increase clarity and sound for services.

As 5781 approaches, the Federation is proud to continue supporting the dedicated organizations that comprise greater Jewish Ann Arbor and ensure they are able to continue providing excellent services and programming to the community for years to come.

For more information about the Community Emergency Fund and how you can contribute, please visit www.jewishannarbor.org/ways-to-give/community-emergency-fund.