$29 million for Jerusalem in the year of the coronavirus
The Jerusalem Foundation began 2020 like every other year, with plans and hopes for strengthening and supporting the people of Jerusalem but, like everyone else around the world, 2020 surprised and challenged us. In the middle of the year, we were focused on providing emergency support and relief in the city, but we were in constant contact with our friends around the world, and they heard our call and responded – leading to some unexpected good news. At the conclusion of this unprecedented year, we had raised over $29 million, a 48% increase compared to 2019. Included in this was almost $4 million of emergency funding for the coronavirus crisis.
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Jerusalem Foundation worked hard to ensure that the basic needs of the city’s most vulnerable residents were provided for, working in partnership with professionals from the Municipality and elsewhere.
Included in this was support for activities to alleviate loneliness amongst the elderly in Jerusalem, distribution of thousands of food baskets – to the elderly and Holocaust survivors, and to families in east Jerusalem – and support for women and children who were more at risk then ever due to the crisis. We also helped to distribute thousands of tablets and laptops – to young and old, in both east and west Jerusalem – to help people stay in contact and receive services and education remotely during this challenging period.
We were at the forefront of ensuring that Jerusalem’s usually vibrant cultural sector was able to adapt and innovate, to continue operating under repeated lockdowns and restrictions. Hundreds of grants were distributed to cultural institutions and civil society organizations to support them through the pandemic – as well as 1.5 million shekels worth of interest-free loans, in partnership with ‘Ogen’.
In 2021, the Jerusalem Foundation will continue rolling out and implementing our master plan – ‘Jerusalem 2030’ – which last year proved to be more necessary than ever. Led by President Shai Doron, we will be focusing on projects and programs in three categories: Communal Strength, Creative Culture, and Future Leadership.
During the pandemic, construction has continued to move forward, allowing plans for the future and 2030 to proceed in spite of the difficulties of this year. Amongst the projects that will be completed in 2021, thanks to work done in 2020, are the new Davidson Theater, home to the Train Theater, in Liberty Bell Park and a new High School building for the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School for Bilingual Education. We will also establish a new education center in Gazelle Valley, two new school libraries in east Jerusalem schools, the ‘Beit Hashanti’ home for at-risk youth in Jerusalem, and continue construction on the Misgav Lakashish day center for the elderly ultra-Orthodox population.
All these capital projects are in addition to numerous existing programs which are expanding and new programs being launched, including a leadership project for at-risk youth, a Scouts leadership program in periphery neighborhoods, and the second cohort of the George Pinto Jerusalem Leadership Fellows Program (‘Kayma’), which integrates doctoral students into civil society with mentorship and work experience in a variety of organizations and institutions.
Thanks to our supporters in the US, over $1 million will be allocated in 2021 through the new Innovation Fund for Culture and Community promoting innovation and collaboration in relief and recovery from COVID.
“The challenges of 2020 have led the Jerusalem Foundation to adapt, and provide for the urgent needs of the most vulnerable populations in the city,” said Shai Doron, President of the Jerusalem Foundation, summing up the past year. “Given the way in which we responded effectively and quickly to the crisis in 2020, many of our donors and supporters around the world and in Israel have increased their sense of pride to be associated with the Jerusalem Foundation. Despite many challenges, last year ended with a significant rise in funds raised, and we see it as an opportunity to launch 2021 with even higher expectations, and a plan to focus on some of our long-term projects.”