May 14, 2020 – As the Federation learned of the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic internationally, it began to focus on a community response through the Jewish Action and Response Network (JRAN). Dr. Ed Septimus, an infectious disease physician for Memorial Hermann, created a template for an organizational pandemic response plan for his congregation, Beth Israel, and one for Shalom Austin.
Jackie Fisherman, the Federation’s Director of Government Affairs who leads JRAN, combined Dr. Septimus’ two plans with one from the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) to create a sharable template for all of Houston’s Jewish organizations. This plan was presented at a JRAN meeting in March.
“We didn’t want to tell anyone what to do. We wanted to give our partners and community organizations all the information so they could make the best choice for their group. Every organization has different needs and we didn’t feel it was our place to dictate what organizations should do,” Fisherman said.
After receiving the plan template, organizations were able to create their own individual plans to share with their professional staff, boards, and stakeholders.
“This first step also gave us a common language and rubric to refer back to as conversations around the pandemic situation evolved,” said Fisherman. “It set up our organizations to be able to more quickly respond to the situation as government regulations increased.”
The pandemic response plans are tool that each organization can continue to update and utilize going forward in a world with great uncertainty.