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Shabbat Shalom

Posted by Brian Schreiber on June 26, 2020
June 26, 2020

As I walked into the office just after 7:30, I was greeted by music coming from the patio outside of Levinson Hall. What did I see? Creativity and a new way to do spinning in a socially distanced way. Two creative spinning classes got another 20 people back to the JCC this morning – several with tears of gratitude in their eyes. Why? Because we are trying to create some form of normalcy and routine at an increasingly non-normal and non-routine time for so many. Here’s a pic from this morning, complemented by an outdoor group ex class in the South Hills at the same time.

Swim lanes at both branches have been 100% filled each hour of every day since we opened that service eight days ago.   For those not comfortable venturing out or coming here in person, we held an additional 61 classes that served more than 800 people in the past week.

I want to be frank.  I am extraordinarily proud of our staff in every aspect of the JCC for going above and beyond to get things up and running. Our protocols have been rock solid and adherence to the procedures just about perfect. But it is a very anxious time for everyone. I acknowledge this and know we have to keep making space for our staff to unwind, catch their breath, and maintain their deep sense of resilience.

We  are experiencing a modest spike in positive cases in Allegheny County and we cannot create a “bubble” here at the JCC  – just ensuring our health screenings, keeping groups small and self-contained, ensuring physical distancing, wearing masks and encouraging our members and staff to report potential exposures for review (which they are) and being transparent communicating with folks along the way. At any moment, something can change and we will deal with it. For the JCCs in areas of high spikes (Florida, Arizona, Texas), they have been “open source” sharing with us and how they are keeping their JCCs going under extreme pressure – closing classrooms or small groups while maintaining operations in general after a positive case is discovered. We are not there yet – but learning from those who have. This “open source” communication within the JCC network is, by far, the best I have seen it in my 21 years here – even better than the 2018 bomb threat scare that impacted our field (feels like a lifetime ago).

What keeps me going?

The appreciation of the community we are serving.    I have never been stopped in the hallways, called, or emailed more than I have in the past three weeks with people expressing their appreciation and support for everything we are doing to keep going and the consistency to practice. We can’t provide any guarantees, but we can make a difference in what we can control and find our own unique coping skills for the daily unknowns.

We’re up to 12,000 grab and go or home delivered meals distributed (shout outs to the Federation Emergency Fund and some private donors for their continued support), and 2,000 meals distributed to school-age children through the PA Summer Food Service Program (and I bet almost none of you knew we have been doing that for close to 10 years!)

Our first four days of day camp have also gone exceptionally well at all three sites and I can’t wait to get out to our sites next week.  See pics below from all three camps (notice the six foot squares for the dance routine laid out at Performing Arts Camp).

One final note: With all going on internally here, our Center for Loving Kindness continues its platform – both online and in person. For those of you comfortable venturing outside, I invite you to participate in the UPstander work (please click for new #CFLKConnectingCommunities UPstander Opportunities) that is at the core of who we are as a Jewish institution – our history, experience and core values — dedicated to community benefit.

Wishing you and your families a Shabbat Shalom,


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