Federation and Foundation Launch Joint Fundraising Appeal to Help Jewish Community Address COVID-19 Pandemic

April 28, 2020 – To ensure Jewish life in Houston endures during this unprecedented time, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and the Houston Jewish Community Foundation have partnered to launch a joint COVID-19 Emergency Appeal with an initial fundraising goal of $5 million.

The Appeal will provide immediate financial assistance for basic needs to individuals and families across the community who are impacted by the pandemic and will also support the longer-term needs of our community’s institutions.

Tracy and Gary Stein, who have a long history of supporting Houston’s Jewish community through their family’s philanthropic efforts, have agreed to chair the Appeal. “For as long as there have been Jewish communities, from the ancient land of Israel and the shtetls of Europe to the cosmopolitan cities of the United States, Jewish people have understood and honored the mitzvot to take care of the hungry and the needy.  Our Jewish Federation has taken the leadership to organize a campaign to deliver funds to those in our community who have been displaced by the dire circumstances of this disease,” said Gary Stein.

This is the first time the Federation and Foundation have joined forces on an emergency fundraising appeal. “What makes this Appeal unique is that the Federation and Foundation are working in tandem to connect donors to this important issue,” said Rick Stein, Chair of the Foundation. “This joint approach will allow us to raise more funds to help even more families navigate these difficult times.”

The Appeal has already raised $1 million to help those in need. A joint committee of Federation and Foundation lay leadership will determine how funds raised will be allocated. Assessment of community needs is ongoing. Because of the nature of this situation, the joint committee will continue to communicate with local partner agencies and analyze the needs to allocate funds appropriately.

Bobby Lapin, Chair of the Federation shared, “We know these are complex times, but our community has a long history of supporting one another, and especially during times of crisis. I am confident, that together, we will once again rise to the occasion to ensure that individuals, families, and institutions have the support they need. That is the only way we are going to get through this.”

The Houston Jewish community has faced crisis situations before and, most recently after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the Federation raised an unprecedented $22 million to support the collective needs of the community. While this situation is different, the financial impact on families and Jewish institutions will once again be significant.

“Across Houston, people are feeling the effects of the pandemic as efforts have been made to slow its spread. Unemployment claims are up throughout Texas, and we know there will be economic damage and financial trauma for families to deal with for a long time,” said Tracy Stein. “We also know that mental health services will be needed as families navigate these complex times.

As was the case following Hurricane Harvey, funds will be allocated to Jewish Family Service, which will case manage the needs of individuals and families and distribute financial aid as appropriate. JFS is also providing additional mental health support and employment services to manage the increased demand for these needs during this time.

Prior to the launch of the appeal, the Federation released an initial $100,000 from its Disaster Relief Fund to Jewish Family Service (JFS) to support evolving community needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds primarily helped with financial assistance for families facing economic challenges as a direct result of COVID-19. The Houston Jewish Community Foundation has remained focused on supporting the community we were established to serve nearly 35 years ago. Over the past six weeks, the Foundation has remotely coordinated and processed more than 300 grants based on donor recommendations, over 29% distributed to assist with COVID-19 efforts locally and nationally.


There are several ways to give. To make a donation, visit houstonjewish.org and click on the “Donate” button.


Donations can also be mailed to the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, 5603 S. Braeswood, Houston, TX 77096. Contact Federation Chief Development Officer Laurie A. Bieber at 917.684.7744 or lbieber@houstonjewish.org if you have any questions or would like to discuss your gift.

You may also recommend a grant from your donor advised fund or private foundation. If your fund is managed by the Houston Jewish Community Foundation, please contact Roberta Herman Dietrich at 713.870.0837 or rherman-dietrich@houstonjewish.org for more information.

To donate stock directly to the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, please contact Terri Campbell at tcampbell@houstonjewish.org or 713.303.7210.