407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org

This has been a week consumed by COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. There has been a run on water and toilet paper. People are scared, concerned, and unsure what the future holds. We hear stories of the pandemic closing down all of Italy, a 14-day mandatory quarantine for those visiting Israel, flights being stopped to Europe, and Americans dying, and we wonder what’s going on around us.

It’s a scary time, and we see our community agencies, both inside the Jewish community and in the general community responding to protect us by canceling public events that could put us at risk and implementing new policies and procedures to keep us safe.

It can also be comforting to know that our Central Florida Jewish community is working together. Our agency heads and synagogue leadership, both volunteer and professional, joined together on a Zoom call to discuss our concerns and create a cohesive plan as we move forward into these uncharted territories. This call was the first of a new weekly call to ensure we are up to date with one another, sharing concerns, plans, and best practices. It’s the essence of community, working together to benefit the larger group. It was encouraging and refreshing to see us all together with one concern – your welfare.

As we move forward, I want to share a few things with you. First, the Federation has created a page on our website devoted to COVID-19. You can find links to Jewish agencies, synagogues, and websites with information related to the virus here. Second, Security Director Jake Silverman remains in daily contact with appropriate local, state, and federal agencies to ensure we have the most up-to-date information. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to either me or Jake.

During this critical time, I want to let you know that your Jewish community is here for you. Clergy are available as resources as are the many wonderful agencies we have. For those of you who may want professional help, Jewish Family Services (JFS) is a wonderful resource to utilize.

Being part of a community means you are never alone. Today, on the call with my colleagues through the Central Florida Jewish community, I felt the power of our togetherness. I hope that you take advantage of the communal resources available, especially during these challenging times.