The Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester’s leadership has been diligently monitoring the worldwide and local outbreak and spread of the respiratory illnesses caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  Consistent with national guidance, we are closely following local advisories to track what is happening in the Rochester region. While much remains to be learned about the virus, current statistics indicate that 80 percent of patients with COVID-19 are likely to have mild symptoms.  Those at highest risk are people over age 60 and those who have underlying health conditions.


Because the health and safety of community members is our top priority, we want to share information, resources, and steps we are taking to help safeguard our community’s health.



WHAT do i need to know about local efforts to aDdress coronavirus?


Prohibition on Public Events 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that for the next eight weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the U.S.  Additionally, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill including a slate of measures that included $40 million worth of new spending, to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The proposal addresses direct virus prevention measures as well as the indirect consequences of those measures. The money appropriated will go toward hiring new staff and also purchasing new equipment to respond to the outbreak. 


 Jewish Community Events 

Many Jewish community events have been canceled or postponed. Congregations and organizations will offer online events, including live streaming of Shabbat services, in order to both keep our community connected and maintain social distancing. Please check with the specific organization about event status, scheduling, and available online alternatives. 


School Closures 


At the recommendation of Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Michael Mendoza, all Rochester-area public schools will be closed indefinitely due to coronavirus and will be reviewed on a week-to-week basis.  Out of an abundance of caution, the State University of New York (SUNY) campuses are moving as many academic programs as possible to distance learning via SUNY’s online platform, videoconferencing, teleconferencing, email, and even traditional mail. Please check with your school, university, college, community college, technical school, career school and apprenticeship programs about scheduling and available online alternatives. 






  • NY State of Health Marketplace announced a special enrollment period for eligible individuals to enroll in insurance coverage through the Marketplace, or directly through insurers through April 15. Click here to learn more.
  • NY State is waiving the 7-Day waiting period for Unemployment Insurance benefits for people who are out of work due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) closures or quarantines. To file visit
  • NY State has halted eviction proceedings and any pending eviction orders in housing court until further notice. The City will automatically extend any Section 8 voucher set to expire. Voucher holders do not need to reach out to the City for an extension. All subsidy terminations that are in process are suspended until further notice. Any HPD Section 8 voucher holders facing rent hardships due to decreases in income should contact HPD.




  • The health and safety of our Jewish community is our utmost priority. We are following the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and local authorities to ensure that our community, including our employees, our institutions, our beneficiaries, and you all, prevent the further spread of the virus and keep ourselves and others healthy and safe.
  • We have convened the leaders of all of our community institutions to discuss how we will manage the evolving situation together. In collaboration with all of our partners, we have developed plans for communicating with our community members and among our institutions. 
  • We are partnering with Jewish Family Service (JFS) of Rochester to address the broad range of social service needs, including food insecurity, social isolation, child care, employment counseling and mental health concerns, among others. JFS will host a call-in hotline to help reach as many members of the community as possible, particularly the most vulnerable.
  • The Federation is launching an on-line Community Relief and Recovery Fund, which will help our institutions manage through the crisis, address social service needs, and potentially provide emergency assistance such as short term loans. We are in discussions with some of our key funders to help support this effort, and community members will be able to donate online.
  • Our Federation staff, in addition to regular work and planning for 2021, has been redeployed into specific teams to support the efforts we are undertaking and working remotely during this time. With Passover approaching in a few weeks, we are also looking at how to best serve our populations and families in need.


How Can I Help? 


Social Services:


  • In an effort to connect volunteers who can bring groceries and supplies to those in high-risk demographics, Jewish family Service has implemented a Groceries-to-Go program. Groceries-to-Go aims to connect volunteer shoppers with individuals who can afford their groceries but are currently unable to get to the store themselves. Our initial focus is on those who do not have family or other supports to assist them and are elderly, immunocompromised, or a person with disabilities. 


Here is how to get involved:

  • If you need the Groceries-to-Go program to connect you with a volunteer shopper, simply call 461-0116 with your grocery list.
  • If you are availible to serve as a Volunteer Shopper for Groceries-to-Go please email with the subject "Volunteer Shopper" .   


  • Jewish Family Service of Rochester is offering support groups online for individuals in the greater Rochester area free of charge. The goal is to provide comaraderie, offer skills and share resources. Learn More. 



  • Jewish Family Service (JFS) is offering a helpline at 585.461.0114 and available Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. and weekends as needed for information, resources navigation and volunteer enrollment.
  • Volunteer enrollment is also available via email at

  • JFS will be deploying volunteers to help those who are unable to leave their homes by collecting and distributing food, placing check-in calls, making cards, and assembling Passover to-go baskets. 

  • JFS will also provide counseling over the phone and manage an emergency fund for people who lose their jobs.   


JFS is providing crisis-intervention or short/long-term counseling via secure video appointments or telephone. Please use this link and leave your name/phone number for a call back, or call the helpline at 585-461-0114. 


Community Fund: 


The Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester is launching a Community  Fund which will help our institutions manage through the COVID-19 crisis, address social service needs, and provide emergency assistance to community members in need.  To learn more, or donate today please click here.




  • The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) identifies hand washing as one of the best defensive actions you can take against any virus or illness. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based sanitizers when soap and water are not available.  

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless your hands are clean. 

  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough. Cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands, or use tissue. Throw away any used tissues promptly, then wash your hands again. 

  • Sanitize and disinfect surfaces regularly, because the virus is spread through droplets.  According to the NYSDOH, the average lifespan of the virus on any surface ranges between 4 and 9 days. 

  • Limit personal contact – refrain from hand-shaking or hugging. 

  • Limit exposure to common-use items in a public space, refrain from touching handrails, door knobs, or other objects with your bare skin. If you have touched public-space surfaces, be sure to wash up as soon as possible. 

  • If you are sick, please stay at home. Even if you do not think you have been exposed to COVID-19, you should stay home if you have any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.  

  • Do not go to the emergency room unless essential. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.  

  • If you suspect you may have been exposed to the coronavirus and are not experiencing life-threatening conditions (shortness of breath, for example), please call your doctor’s office. Nurses and doctors will be able to advise whether you need to be seen. There are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronavirus. Most people will recover on their own, but some people can develop pneumonia and require medical care, including hospitalization. 





Coronavirus does not recognize race, nationality, or ethnicity. Discrimination based on ethnicity or ancestry will only worsen the situation. Having Chinese ancestry - or any ancestry - does not make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19. Do not assume that people wearing masks are sick. Based on cultural differences, masks are worn for various reasons.




The NYSDOH has established a hotline to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in New York State, how the virus is spread, or what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-888-364-3065. 




The Federation will continue to monitor the situation, update our community, give guidance, and distribute resources about COVID-19 as more information becomes available. 


We appreciate your partnership as we all continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation. 




Updated 8/12/2020