After COVID: What Happens Next?

May 15, 2020 | Article

After COVID: What Happens Next?

The impact of the coronavirus on Jewish communities 

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), in collaboration with Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, has launched a global roundtable initiative to assess the damage caused by the virus on Jewish communities and to prepare a plan to rehabilitate those impacted the most harshly.

The forum plans to convene online for the first time on May 26 to identify situations of significant hardship, discuss preparation for a possible second wave of COVID-19, and consider ways in which we might redesign communities and communal structures. The roundtable is expected to meet every two weeks until there’s a global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and will be headed by Minister of Diaspora Affairs Tzipi Hotovely and JAFI Chairman Isaac Herzog.

According to a joint statement put out by the organizers, “The coronavirus crisis has had dramatic ramifications on worldwide Jewish communities, leadership, resilience and the provision of services, communal life, and in some cases, even risks to the very existence of the community. While the global Jewish community’s rehabilitation is expected to be a lengthy process, this period could actually create opportunities to reshape Jewish life in the post-coronavirus world.”

Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and JAFI have collected data since the pandemic broke out, which indicates that the number of people who have died in Jewish communities worldwide is in the thousands, and in many areas, Jewish institutions are completely paralyzed or in the process of collapse. Last month, JAFI, together with Keren Hayesod and Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), launched a $10 million loan fund to help Jewish communities impacted by the virus. Since then, dozens of applications have been received from more than 15 countries.