Feeding the hungry over decades

Photo: Fred George (JFNA)

Photo: Fred George (JFNA)

“My children have food on the table and I am finally back on my feet. I couldn’t have made it without the love and support of my community.” Esther’s plight began when she lost her job. A single mother, she and her children relied on her salary for everything. Without it, they were unable to afford their rent, or even to buy enough food. Thanks to Federation CJA, she was able to survive this difficult time. She now has a new job and optimism for the future.

When the first Combined Jewish Appeal was launched in 1917, the Jews of Montreal were mostly recent immigrants who worked long hours for modest means. What distinguished them was their desire to forge a community, to help one another, and to preserve Jewish culture and identity in a new world.

These were the very reasons why they established a system for federated giving which survives to this day in Federation CJA. Only with the support of a new generation of donors to Combined Jewish Appeal, will the Federation be able to continue this mission far into the future.

Montreal’s Jews faced their greatest crisis during Great Depression of 1929 to 1939. Unemployment was rampant – more than 30% province-wide – and many who were working barely earned a living wage. The Federation opened kosher soup kitchens that enabled thousands of hungry Jews to survive the crisis and started an employment agency to help people find scarce jobs.

In 2009, we faced the worst recession since those dark days. Over the course of that difficult year, Federation CJA was responsible for serving more than 70,000 meals to people in need. While the economy has improved, many of those who lost jobs and savings have yet to feel the effects of the recovery. We have, however, succeeded in getting people through the worst of the crisis.

But, today, when one in every five Jewish children in the Montreal community are living in poverty, as are one in five Jewish seniors, there remains much to be done. Working together each of us can help to break the cycle of poverty by providing families with the basic necessities and children with the education that will enable them to succeed.  Your gift to Combined Jewish Appeal will change the lives of Jews who need your help.

In 2010 Federation allocated over $7 million to its social service agencies – Ometz, Cummings Centre, JEM Workshop, Project Genesis – and to numerous community grassroots initiatives.