UJA Presents COVID-19 Impact Study for the Community

By Stephen E. Lipken


Giselle {Gigi} Weissman, Chair, UJA Westchester Advisory Committee welcomed the Westchester Jewish community to a virtual COVID-19 Impact Study on the New York Jewish Community on Tuesday, December 7th.


“From February to May 2021, UJA conducted an examination of the economic and social impact of COVID-19 on the New York Jewish community,” Weissman stated.  


“We just celebrated Thanksgiving and Chanukah and I know that these celebrations are centered around food, but the cost of holiday staples, especially a kosher turkey makes festivities a financial stretch for families grappling with food insecurity.  One finding that came out of the COVID Impact Study is that 13% of our Westchester Jewish community live in or near poverty,” Weissman continued, mentioning the recently organized HOPE Community Services Kosher Food Pantry.


Weissman then introduced Annette Jacoby, UJA Federation Director of Research. Jacoby addressed Jewish Life during COVID; Poverty and Hardship; Employment; Housing Insecurity; Food Insecurity; Mental Health and Emotional Well-being; Social Isolation and Loneliness; Health and Disability; Domestic Violence; Substance Abuse; Philanthropy and Volunteerism; Vaccine Hesitancy; Antisemitism; Inclusion and Discrimination.


Regarding emotional attachment during the pandemic, Jacoby noted that only 8% of Westchester Jewish adults indicated that their attachment to being Jewish had increased since the pandemic compared to 20% of Jewish adults in the 8-county area; 38% of Westchester Jewish adults felt that their Jewish identity helped them cope. 


Addressing Poverty, Jacoby said that 23% of adults in the 8-county area live in poverty compared to just 13% of Westchester adults.  With Food Insecurity, only 3% in Westchester Jewish households reported being food insecure compared to 9% in the 8-county area.


“Half of adults in Jewish households felt socially isolated; 81% of adults living in 1-person households felt socially isolated compared to 70% in the 8-county area. In terms of mental health, 18% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression; 16% felt more down; 55% with symptoms of depression/anxiety not seeking professional health, compared to 50% in the 8-county area; Westchester Domestic Violence rate is 2%.” 


Further interactive web-based tools and reports can be found on www.ujafedny.org/covid-19-impact-study