Stimulus Bill to Aid Jewish Baltimore

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At more than $2 trillion, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history. It will benefit individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and health care systems, and many in Baltimore’s Jewish community can expect to see its effects.

Through this plan, individuals earning up to $75,000 a year will receive $1,200. Individuals who make more than that and up to $99,000 will receive payments as well, though not as much. It will also aid businesses and nonprofits.

Small businesses and nonprofits, generally defined as those with fewer than 500 employees, are eligible for loans through an expansion of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 7(a) loan program. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, this program is intended to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn.

To qualify, one has to certify that they have been negatively hit by the pandemic, according to Sarah Mersky Miicke, Baltimore Jewish Council deputy director, who said the BJC has been on some national calls relating to the bill.

The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore is working with its resource network of attorneys and finance and banking experts to analyze the stimulus package and what it could mean for the agencies, partners, and community, according to Marc B. Terrill, president of The Associated.

“Once we have a clearer picture, we will be hosting a series of virtual meetings for partner organizations on the implications of the package and the process forward,” Terrill said.

“There is great power and utility in our ability to work together in a swift, deliberate, and informed way.”

The Jewish Federations of North America announced a national program to help Jewish nonprofits access the financial support.

“The Paycheck Protection Program is an unprecedented resource in helping to ensure that Jewish Federations, community centers, synagogues, Jewish day schools, Jewish Family Service agencies, and others are able to continue their critical work to help vulnerable populations and safeguard Jewish life across America,” JFNA President and CEO Eric D. Fingerhut said in a press release. “We are grateful for this opportunity and strongly urge all Jewish organizations to apply.”

The threat of an extended quarantine would inhibit philanthropy and also dry up sources of income, like tuition for religious schools and camps, Fingerhut told JTA.

Interested organizations can contact the JFNA SBA loan hotline at 212-284-6625.

Other Jewish organizations also expressed support for the bill to help nonprofits.

“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the U.S., more attention must be focused on disruptions to America’s charities,” said Orthodox Union President Mark (Moishe) Bane, a Baltimore resident, in a press release before the bill passed.

The OU stated that the money could help it maintain operations, expand its scope to address increasing demands, and stabilize losses from closures throughout the country.

“Now, more than ever, we must not forget about the most vulnerable in our communities who count on the Orthodox Union and other charities such as ours for social welfare services, education, health, and spiritual care,” Bane said.

For individuals, whether the bill’s support will be substantial is dependent on the person and their lives. Mersky Miicke pointed out it will be most helpful for those who have lost their jobs, though realistically it won’t be able to cover all of someone’s bills, which can include mortgage payments, child care, food, and more.

“There will be Jewish people who get fired, Jewish small businesses who will go under, Jewish elderly, Jewish people with disabilities,” Rabbi Jonah Pesner, the director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, told JTA. “This is about the Jewish community and about the other. There’s no dichotomy.”

Mersky Miicke hopes the stimulus helps the community survive. “Small business loans will help nonprofits get some much needed financial assistance during this hard time when they can’t really earn as much revenue as normal,” she said.


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