Covenant crisis is our crisis

Covenant crisis is our crisis

One of the greatest responsibilities facing any Jewish community is caring for its elderly. That’s how we honor our father and mother, as the Torah commands.
Jewish Pittsburgh has never ignored this responsibility. That’s why we have the Jewish Association on Aging and the service it provides. That’s why we have a food bank, AgeWell and congregations that look out for their own.
But lately, as the fate of the Covenant at South Hills is battled out in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, our community has come face to face with a difficult question: Are we doing enough?
There are those who say no, and if you read this week’s Chronicle, you’ll see they are saying it loud and clear.
Many residents of Covenant are disappointed that the organized Jewish community has not stepped forward with its own plan to buy the facility. They feel like they have been forgotten. They are angry.
Their feelings are understandable. They invested great sums in a Jewish facility where they thought they could live out their days in a Jewish environment. Now, the most attractive buyer for the Covenant appears to be Concordia Lutheran Ministries, a senior care provider “where heartfelt Christian faith and a strong sense of service to others help us make a difference every day,” according to its Web site.
We’d be upset, too, if we were Covenant residents.
In fairness to Pittsburgh’s Jewish leaders, Covenant’s crisis is developing during the nation’s worst recession in decades. Thousands of people are out of work and the community’s service network is strained like never before.
Could the Jewish community make a bid for Covenant? We don’t know; it’s a huge step to take, and we hope the community says more on this issue in the weeks to come.
We do know that the community should be reaching out to the 190 Covenant residents in some way. It could consult with the Residents’ Council of Covenant, explore ways to assist any transaction and explore other creative approaches.
We also know it won’t be easy.
But nothing Jewish communities do ever is. As the Covenant crisis plays itself out, let’s make the extra effort
to resolve this issue as a whole community. There is no issue too complex we can’t tackle together.