Updated May 18, 2020
We miss you! It’s hard to believe that our state-mandated closure has now reached well into May. We anticipate learning more next week from Governor Baker about what conditions need to be met in order for us to be allowed to re-open our physical doors.
While we have not been together in person, we have been together online through our ever-expanding JCCGB+ platform. We’ve been able to connect with many of you over the phone as well – and it’s been so wonderful to hear your voices. Please reach out to any of us at any time. Thank you for your continued support of our community. We’re so happy to continue to be with you, even if it’s not in the ways we are typically together.
We know that the world is changing and how we run our facility will be different when we re-open. While we have not been given specific guidance yet from state and local health authorities, we are researching and learning from experts in order to create new health and safety protocols to keep you, our members, and our staff safe.
We have created a task force of internal staff and external experts to advise us on our re-opening plans to ensure the highest standard of care in health, safety, and cleanliness. We anticipate our efforts to fall in the following categories:
When you arrive back at JCC Greater Boston, you will see increased hand sanitizer stations and ready access to handwashing stations. It will be the shared responsibility of all members and staff to wash and sanitize hands regularly while in the facility.
In addition, you will find enhanced cleaning procedures, including deep cleaning of our equipment and spaces, at regular intervals throughout the day using EPA-registered disinfectants which are certified effective against the COVID-19 virus by the CDC. We will also be introducing electrostatic handheld and back-pack sprayers that efficiently attack microbes, which provide triple the cleaning coverage in the same amount of time compared to traditional efforts.
We anticipate that social, or physical, distancing will be the norm for many months to come. This will require changes to how many people can be in the Fitness Center at a given time including on the cardio deck and in our Wellness Studios. We are also planning to create clearly defined one-way paths through the building and the Fitness Center, changes to our pool lanes, and smaller class sizes. We are working on those plans now that will balance your experience with our increased standards of health and safety.
Based on emerging guidance from the state and local health officials, we are also looking at the possibility of not only requiring masks while in the facility, but also developing a daily health screening for all members and staff. Any health screenings – most likely a questionnaire upon entering the building - will be done confidentially. The masks and screenings will hold all of us accountable to recognize and be responsible for our contribution to potentially spreading any infectious disease when we decide to be in shared, community spaces.
Our Responsibility, Together
All of these changes are just the beginning of the work we have ahead of us to create a safe space for you to return to. We are committed to this, as well as ensuring that despite all of these changes, we still bring joy to your lives through health and wellness at JCC Greater Boston. We know that you share this responsibility and commitment to health, safety, and joy as well!
We miss you, and we can’t wait to be together again soon. As soon as we have updates on re-opening, as well as detailed plans for our cleaning and operating plans, we will share them with you. Until then, we will see you online at JCCGB+!
President/CEO JCC Greater Boston
Updated March 31, 2020
Dear JCC Greater Boston Community,
"A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness.”
-Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi
Although we must keep our building doors closed, we have been inspired by how many of you are now connecting to us through JCCGB+, our new online platform for programming. In just the first week we have offered 28 programs and engaged with over 5,000 of you. Through JCCGB+ we are committed to keeping our community fit and healthy in mind, body and spirit.
JCCGB+ also offers exclusive content just for our members. We are grateful to the many members who have chosen to maintain your membership fees during this time while also enjoying all that JCCGB+ has to offer.
If this pandemic has proven anything to us, it is that even when we are apart, we are still together, in kehillah, in community.
As Governor Baker announced this week all schools and childcare centers must remain closed until at least May 4, 2020. Given that, we have made the decision that we will extend our temporary closure until at least May 18, 2020. If we can open sooner and have the all clear from state and local public health agencies, we certainly will do so. As we have all seen in recent weeks, this date may change, and as new information arises, we will stay in touch.
Many of you have chosen to continue your membership dues, fees, or tuition as donations*. Thank you. These donations offer the necessary support for our community, our staff, and our organization to survive, and thrive, during and after this crisis. Thank you so much for your support, it truly makes a difference.
Mark Sokoll, President/CEO
*If you choose to donate your membership dues, fees or tuition, we will send you a donation letter for tax purposes to reflect your fees paid during the temporary closure. If you would like to freeze or cancel your membership, fees or tuition, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with specific questions.
Updated March 19, 2020
Dear JCC Greater Boston Community,
Thank you for your outpouring of support over the past week as we have worked to lay out the best path forward for our members, users, and community. Jewish tradition has something to say to all of us as we navigate a continually changing world.
This week's Torah portion, VaYak’heil, finds the Jewish community at a time of great anxiety, transition, and change. The very word, VaYak’heil, comes from the same root as the word for community - Kehillah. And Kehillah, community, is being tested now as it was then in ways never experienced before. I hope these sacred words resonate as we share how we are responding to these new tests and come together to be part of the larger community.
Given the current guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, public schools and early childhood learning centers are not anticipated to open until April 6 at the earliest. While this may change, we currently anticipate opening our doors to typical JCC Greater Boston operations on Monday, April 13. We continue to monitor and follow all local, state and federal guidelines, and our decisions may change as the situation continues unfolds. We will keep you informed through email and on our social media channels.
Building Kehillah, Community, with You
Our organization plays a special role in our community and we take that responsibility seriously. Each of our staff works here, in part, to serve this purpose. During this time, we will remain true to our goal of connecting us to one another and to vibrant, Jewish life. The next few weeks will be a time that we all learn and grow together in new ways. Simply put, we will be here to continue caring for and supporting you during these unprecedented times:
Staff are developing all new programs to bring you online designed to connect during these times of social distancing. We are so excited to announce that tomorrow we will launch JCCGB+ with two Facebook Live events:
9:30am: Spend your morning with a PJ Library Virtual Concert featuring Josh and the Jamtones. Join us to welcome in Shabbat and get the wiggles out from your living room!
12pm: Spend lunch with JCC Greater Boston President/CEO Mark Sokoll as he shares thoughts, musings, and Grateful Dead songs.
A full JCCGB+ schedule will come out this weekend and starting Sunday, we will have a daily schedule posted on our website and social media channels so you can plan your days with us in mind. Stay tuned for all new fitness, family, and adult learning programs!
This week, teachers across all four of our early learning centers are messaging and meeting virtually every day to support parents during this uncertain time and maintain strong social connections between our kids, families, and teachers.
Staying with Your Community
As all of us face this unprecedented time of uncertainty, I ask you to consider joining us in our mission-driven work. If you continue your membership dues, fees, or tuition, you will be playing a vital role in helping our community continue to meet the needs of kids, families, and individuals now, and give us a head start to move quickly when we open to typical operations. If you choose to do so, we will send you a donation letter for tax purposes to reflect your fees paid during the temporary closure. If you wish to continue your fees, tuition, and dues, no action is required. Please reach out to email@example.com with specific questions. Early Learning Center families will hear from school directors regarding school policy.
Jewish Tradition Teaches That Community is Sacred
Every year, we provide more than $800,000 to families in need through camp scholarships, financial assistance for memberships and ELC tuition, and ensuring that there is a place in the community for everyone who wants to participate. We know the need for this support will grow, and in the coming days, we will be launching a JCC Greater Boston Fund for Sustainability. Until then, if you are able, please consider donating to our Annual Campaign. As our income and revenue inevitably decline during this period of temporary closure, we count on our community to keep the pulse strong that makes up the heartbeat of our JCC community.
At the JCC, community is our middle name and each of you is our heart. We know we will come through this time together as an even stronger, Kehillah, community. Please join me tomorrow on Facebook at noon.
Updated March 13, 2020
Dear JCC Greater Boston Community,
Effective today, March 13, 2020 at 6 pm, the Leventhal-Sidman JCC in Newton will close until Sunday, March 29, 2020. In addition, all other JCC Greater Boston sites, programs, and services, including all Early Learning Centers, will temporarily suspend operations effective immediately, and plan to re-open on Monday, March 30, 2020. These dates are subject to review pending guidance from the appropriate federal, state, and local resources.
This decision was not made lightly. This is the right step to be part of our collective community efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. It is our responsibility to safeguard our staff, members, and community by closing our doors for this period of time. This will play a small role in the greater community efforts to slow the rapid transmission of the virus, while protecting the most vulnerable around us.
At this time, we do not have any known staff or members who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. With that, we urgently remind all staff and community members that it is imperative to follow protocols for personal protection, for prevention, as well as to lower the risk of transmission to others. Please remember the importance of social distancing, washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, and remaining home if you are sick.
As is our mission, we intend to care for one another in these difficult times. We remain deeply thankful that we have each other. JCC Greater Boston staff will be immediately working on implementing online programs and resources to connect with our community during this period of isolation.
We are so grateful to all of our members and users for their support of our programs and services. You provide the ongoing resources we need to move forward and care for our staff and our community during this challenging time and beyond.
As we move into next week, Program Directors will be in touch with specific details for program areas including Aquatics, Early Learning Centers, Camping, Discovery Club, Family Programming and Health & Wellness. They will share more specifics on our temporary closure relative to their program areas, as well as information regarding the availability of access to JCC Greater Boston programming during this time.
Our website and Facebook page will continue to provide current information over the coming days, and our online doors are open. Please be in touch with our membership department at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions as they will direct your comments to the appropriate department. You will receive a response within 48 hours. We are deeply grateful for your understanding, partnership, trust, and support as we navigate together this rapidly changing situation.
As Shabbat approaches, we give gratitude for the JCC community we have built and will work to protect, together. This poem is a particularly powerful reflection on the collective impact we can have on supporting one another, even if from afar.
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20
Louis J. Grossman
Chair, JCC Greater Boston Governing Board
Updated March 6, 2020
Dear Community Member,
JCC Greater Boston is committed to our responsibility of keeping our community of members, guests, and staff safe. We are remaining vigilant with our protocols and measures to minimize the transmission of all infectious disease and are following the ongoing COVID-19 situation closely.
With the constant flow of information all around us — both fact-based and hearsay — rapidly evolving, we want to share more about our efforts to keep our community healthy and informed. As many schools, public, and private organizations in Massachusetts have done, we are following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) recommendations and do not deviate from these guidelines. According to the latest information from these agencies the current risk to Massachusetts residents remains low.
Business as Usual with Extra Cleaning and Awareness
Though we have a response plan should the situation worsen, as of today our operations are proceeding as usual, with additional precautionary measures in place. For many people, especially children and families and isolated older adults, JCC Greater Boston is a place of community, socialization, and support; all building and program closures will be weighed seriously and with an awareness of and sensitivity to the most vulnerable among us.
We have posted throughout our facilities instructions on best hand washing practices. Thorough hand washing is one of the most impactful ways everybody can aid in our public health. In addition, we will be installing new hand sanitizer stations over the next week.
Our cleaning personnel and staff are clear on procedures for cleaning and disinfecting our facilities. In addition, staff are cleaning and disinfecting the equipment in the George Schultz Fitness Center and the Winn Family & Wellness Wings at the Leventhal-Sidman JCC, at our four early learning sites, as well as all high-use surfaces and equipment/supplies throughout our facilities.
Continued Vigilance and Transparent Communication
We continue to monitor the situation through our contacts and resources at the CDC and MDPH, as well as local public health agencies as appropriate. We will continue to communicate as the situation evolves throughout our community.
We maintain our commitment and diligent efforts to mitigate exposure to and transmission of any and all infectious diseases within our community, including but not limited to influenza, norovirus, COVID-19, and the common cold.
Travel Impacts and Recommendations
On March 4, 2020, the CDC issued an updated Travel Health Alert for all United States residents that instructs all travelers returning from countries with a Level 3 alert to stay home and monitor their health for 14 days after returning to the US as well as avoid any non-essential travel to Level 3 countries.
In addition, CDC guidance recommends travelers from countries with a Level 2 alert to monitor their health and limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning to the United States.
As of today the countries categorized as Level 3 and Level 2 are:
- South Korea
This list may change and we are monitoring those potential changes closely, and making decisions around access to our sites accordingly. We will keep our community informed as this evolves.
Our Shared Roles in our Community’s Health
We ask that everybody be mindful of our whole community and shared responsibility to one another. Please follow these CDC recommendations:
- Practice good hand washing techniques
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing/sneezing
- Properly dispose of used tissue in designated trash cans
- Please stay home if you or your close family members are sick
JCC Greater Boston staff are ready to field any questions, comments, or concerns you may have. Thank you for your efforts to keep our community safe.
Updated Saturday, February 29
Dear JCC Greater Boston Community,
We understand that many of our members may have questions and concerns regarding the recent outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and how it may impact our local community. Please know that as of now, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health the risk to residents in Massachusetts remains low.
At this time, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s recommendation is that schools and businesses continue to follow regular precautions to prevent the spread of all the usual cold and flu viruses. If other recommendations are made, we will update our community immediately.
The precautions we already take to protect against colds and the flu also help protect against COVID-19. These precautions include education about hygiene and reminders for members, staff, and volunteers to:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and, if unable to wash, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
- Cover coughs and/ or sneezes with a tissue or sleeve (not hands)
- Avoid people who are sick and stay home/ keep children home when sick
The Novel Coronavirus is an evolving situation that we are monitoring closely. We will continue to update you when new information becomes available. Thank you, as always, for your consideration and doing your part to help in keep our community healthy. Please be in touch with Member Relations with any questions, and/or see the CDC's website for more information.
Please reach out to me personally with any questions.