For questions about membership and programs, click here.
Press inquiries ONLY: click here.
Please do not send general questions to this address.
The Fitness Center Reopened Today
September 21, 2020
Dear JCC Members,
We have officially opened! We've been counting down the days until your arrival in the JCC Fitness Center, and it's been wonderful to reunite with the members we welcomed back today. Our center is polished and bright, the music is on, and our staff can’t wait to motivate you toward new exercise goals. Make your reservations and come on home!
To get started, you'll need to follow two easy steps. First, set up your JCC Mindbody account if you don’t already have one. Second, make reservations for your upcoming workouts (required for entry) to secure your preferred workout time. In advance of your session, you’ll receive an email with a link to an online health declaration that you’ll need to complete before arrival on the same day as your workout, and display the confirmation on your phone when you check-in at the JCC.
Reminders for Your Visit:
- Arrive at the JCC’s 76th Street door and queue up outside at your reservation time, ID in hand
- Make sure you’ve completed your health declaration in advance of your arrival
- Please wear your mask at all times. Per state guidelines, bandanas, buffs, and gaiters are not acceptable face coverings
- You will receive a quick, contactless temperature scan at check-in
- Come prepared to work out, as our locker rooms and showers are unavailable
- Please bring a refillable water bottle and your own hand towel
- Practice social distancing and follow all JCC signage and protocols
- Wipe down equipment before and after use, wash hands, and use available hand sanitizer
Please also review our reopening web page, which contains everything else you need to know about the JCC’s health and safety protocols. And if you haven’t watched it yet, check out this short video we’ve created about your new JCC experience.
Note that the JCC Fitness Center will close at 4 pm on Sun, Sep 27, and remain closed through Mon, Sep 28, in observance of Yom Kippur.
Our Membership team is in the process of restarting all Health Club memberships for October. Please note that after October 1, Health Club membership is required for access to the JCC, as well as for free access to virtual drop-in group exercise classes. If you wish to keep your membership on pause, please fill out this form. To continue taking advantage of virtual drop-in group exercise classes while your membership is on pause, you may purchase a JCC Class Pass.
We’re pleased to let you know we have received guidance from the Mayor's office on the reopening of indoor pools. The JCC Health Club is in the midst of a phased reopening to ensure sound operations, adhere to capacity guidelines, and keep the health and safety of our community as top priority. With the newly issued guidelines, we are formulating a timeline for restarting our aquatics operations, and will keep you posted.
Other questions? Email our Membership department and we’ll answer as soon as we can. Your patience is appreciated—as you can imagine, our inboxes are overflowing at this exciting time, so it may take up to 48 hours for us to reply.
The day we’ve long awaited is finally here. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Rabbi Joy Levitt
Fitness Center Reopening: Make Your Reservation Now
September 15, 2020
Can you feel the excitement? We’re just under one week out from the start of our phased JCC Health Club reopening on Mon, Sep 21. Health Club members, you’re just six days away from resuming your exercise goals in the 4th floor Fitness Center. We know it may feel funny at first to enter our building with lots of safety protocols in place, but our staff is ready and waiting to boost your energy, comfort, and confidence. We can’t wait to reunite with our JCC fitness family!
As I mentioned in my last email, we have been doing a great deal of preparation in anticipation of our reopening, and you can read all about those plans and important member protocols on our reopening web page. You can now make reservations (required for entry) for your first workouts back in the Fitness Center, and view a sample of our health declaration, which you’ll receive by email in advance of each workout and which you’ll need to sign before every visit to the JCC. If you intend to book a fitness center reservation soon, please set up your JCC Mindbody account if you don’t already have one.
We’re also proud to share a special supplementary review of our building preparations, created with Kahn Architecture & Design, here. If you want to learn more specifics about JCC cleaning protocols, systems upgrades, or air quality, we encourage you to browse this document.
Our Membership team is hard at work beginning the process of restarting Health Club memberships effective October 1 (your first nine days after reopening are on us). For monthly paying Health Club members, automatic monthly billing will resume on October 1 for the month ahead. For annual Health Club members, your membership will be extended to cover the period of closure. Those who aren’t ready to resume can remain on pause (as will Pool and Basketball memberships, pending reopening of these areas). Please note that after October 1, a Health Club membership is required for access to the JCC, as well as for free access to virtual drop-in group exercise classes. If you wish to remain entirely virtual, you may purchase a JCC Class Pass to continue drop-in virtual group exercise access.
Finally, please take four minutes to watch the video we’ve created for you, linked above and here. It’s a quick overview of the experience you can expect when you come to the JCC for your workout, featuring some familiar JCC faces (including my own!).
We’re thrilled to be able to open our doors to you. Want to know anything else? Email our Membership department or call 646.505.5700 and we’ll answer as much as we can as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience—it’s a busy and exciting time.
We’re almost there! We look forward to seeing you in person on Amsterdam and 76th!
Rabbi Joy Levitt
Introducing the Wechsler Center for Modern Aging
September 10, 2020
Even more than all the programs we offer at the JCC, I'm inspired by the friendships that are made every day in our 60+ community, most of which started with a simple hello at a class or event. This is why we are here. This is why older adult programming is so central to our mission.
The JCC has been a home away from home for older adults for more than two decades. Even before the building opened, we were holding programs in rented spaces (trust me—I was there!). Our goal has always been to help people find purpose as they grow older and to honor their wisdom and talents.
It is with great excitement that I announce the new Wechsler Center for Modern Aging, which seeks to reimagine older adulthood in a Jewish communal setting as a time of expansive possibility, purpose, community engagement, mutual support, and blessing. While we have understood the importance of such a center for some time, we are particularly proud to launch this new project during these challenging times, when social connectedness—a cornerstone of healthy aging—is so difficult.
Please join me to commemorate the launch of this center, which will include a number of special events and key initIatives, including:
- A Virtual Celebration of the launch on Thursday, October 15
- The first all-virtual Symposium on Positive Aging on Monday, November 16
- Programs that reflect the latest key research and best practices in the field of aging
- A permanent virtual center, in parallel to programs in the building, encompassing current and new programming, fostering social connections, and poised to embark on new innovations, so individuals may participate with ease from anywhere
- New efforts to make sure older adults feel supported when they face challenges, including the recently-formed Caring Initiative
- A focus on technology tutorials and a variety of learning opportunities to expand technological fluency, encouraging connection to friends, family, and an ever-changing virtual landscape
- The inaugural 16 Over 61 Awards, which will honor 16 individuals who exemplify the mission and values of our new center
None of this would be possible without the generous support of Dana Wechsler Linden and Larry Linden, who have listened to our goals for the new center and responded with a resounding “Yes!” Dana's enthusiasm has rippled throughout the JCC over the past few months, and we are proud to partner with her in building a best-in-class center for modern aging. While her support helped launch the center, we hope that our community will sustain it. Please click here to make a gift in honor of this exciting new initiative.
The pandemic has brought new urgency to our work, as we seek to provide ways to build community when we cannot be physically together. We have been inspired by the ways our older adults have “come together” during this challenging time, and we are more convinced than ever of the need for our new center. We hope you will join us in celebrating this important new phase for the JCC.
In gratitude and friendship,
Rabbi Joy Levitt
JCC Fitness Center Reopening Date
September 2, 2020
Dear JCC Members,
I'm thrilled to announce that the first phase of the JCC Health Club reopening will begin on Monday, September 21, with the 4th Floor Fitness Center. This will follow the start of the school year for The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School, which begins classes on September 16. We’ve missed our community dearly and can’t wait to begin welcoming you back to the building, in phases, with your health and safety as our highest priority.
Over the next three weeks, we will be refining our operations and conducting final checks to make sure the JCC meets or exceeds all New York State guidelines and New York City Department of Health inspection requirements, and complies with CDC-approved cleaning and sanitization processes. We have begun recalling Health Club staff for training and they can’t wait to see you!
What to expect
Our Fitness Center will reopen with modified operating hours, viewable soon on a dedicated web page. We eagerly await more information from the city on the timeline for indoor pools, which do not have permission to open right now. The gymnasium, showers, steam room, massage services, and on-site group exercise classes also remain on pause until further notice. Limited basketball court access and personal training services are expected to resume soon. We’ll keep you updated every step of the way.
New health and safety standards
New entry and exit protocols will be employed to manage reduced capacity, facilitate social distancing, and reduce traffic crossover. Fitness reservations will occur within 90-minute workout blocks separated by 30-minute closed periods for deep cleaning after members exit the floor. You’ll observe enhanced and frequent cleaning and disinfection throughout the building all day, every day. You’ll see hand sanitizing stations on every floor and throughout the Health Club. You’ll see signage enforcing mask requirements and reminding you to remain six feet apart from your fellow members, and floor mats to encourage distancing. Machines in the Fitness Center will be marked and spaced appropriately, with certain cardio machines moved into our 4th floor studio to offer you the greatest number of options. Wayfinding and etiquette signage will help to ensure your experience is safe and smooth.
Online reservations: coming soon
In accordance with government mandates, a timed reservation and health declaration is required for all JCC Health Club visits. In advance of our reopening, you’ll be able to schedule your workouts in the Fitness Center for the week ahead via the JCC website or the JCC/MindBody app. Closer to your workout time, you’ll receive a short health declaration survey in which you’ll be required to answer questions related to your health status and acknowledge the risks associated with visiting the JCC. Samples of both the reservation and health declaration process, and more details about reservations, will be available in advance of reopening.
New building entry and arrival procedures
All Health Club members will enter through the JCC’s 76th Street door near the corner of 76th and Amsterdam Avenue. Masks are required for entry and at all times in the building. Please bring ID and proof of your reservation, which can be displayed on your phone. Upon arrival, you’ll be subject to a contactless temperature scan, and a brief check-in with a JCC Health Club ambassador, who will direct you to the 4th floor via the nearby designated stairwell or elevators.
To exit the building after your workout, you’ll be directed back down the stairwell or the elevators, then out the same way you first entered—via our 76th Street door.
Planning your visit
As locker rooms will be intended only for bathroom and sink use (showers won’t be available upon reopening), we ask that you arrive prepared to work out. We request that you reduce your time in the building by exiting promptly after your workout. Please bring your own water bottle; you’ll be able to utilize our hands-free water refilling stations. We also ask you to bring your own hand towel as laundry service will be unavailable at this time. Small pouches will be permitted on the fitness floor to carry your essentials. More details about what to expect and how to prepare for your visit will be available on our website soon.
We recognize that this is a period of transition for everyone in our community. Whether you’re ready to start working out in the Fitness Center or prefer to stay virtual, your JCC Health Club membership has you covered. You’ll be able to schedule reservations while continuing to enjoy your free/discounted access to virtual JCC programs—including our popular group exercise classes. More information about membership activation and billing is forthcoming, and no action is required on your part yet. (Please note that pool and basketball memberships will remain on hold until the JCC pools and basketball courts reopen.)
We know you have questions! Rest assured, all JCC rules, regulations, and procedures will soon be available for you to read on our website. As we receive new information and guidelines from the city, we’ll be sure the website reflects the most current information to help you plan for your return to the JCC. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please email our membership department.
Stay healthy and stay tuned!
Rabbi Joy Levitt
P.S. It takes the generosity of our members to keep the JCC going strong. Please consider donating to our Emergency Fund. Thank you for your support.
What Does It Mean To Be a Neighborhood?
August 21, 2020
What does it mean to be a neighborhood? For 20 years, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan has worked hard and well with the synagogues, schools, businesses, cultural organizations, and all of you to make the Upper West Side a place that excites and engages, a place where families have felt safe. At the JCC, our values literally hang on the walls, as if to say, “This is what we stand for, even when we can’t quite get there.”
COVID-19 has challenged all of this. With businesses struggling, houses of worship pivoting mightily to virtual prayer, our beloved JCC still waiting to fully open, rising unemployment, and so many leaving the city, our neighborhood is sometimes hard to recognize.
The city’s decision to relocate 600 people from homeless shelters into Upper West Side hotels was motivated by a need to de-densify overcrowded conditions that could lead to virus hotspots. This decision has polarized our community and severely challenged the agencies that run these shelters.
In fact, we are less divided than online comments and social media would have us believe. We can all agree that homelessness in our city is a serious problem. We can all agree that shelters must not become COVID-19 hotspots. We can all agree that children should be able to walk safety to and from school. We can all agree that people should be able to take a walk without being harassed.
We all want the same thing: a safe and comfortable neighborhood. All of us should be working to make sure that the service providers in the hotels have what they need to keep their residents safe and occupied, and that our partners in law enforcement have the tools they need to keep the streets safe. All of us should be demanding that our elected officials make sure that there is open and honest communication as they navigate these challenging times.
In response, I have joined the community advisory board that has been created at the borough president’s urging. I have also spoken with Captain Neil Zuder of the 20th Precinct to discuss ways we can work together to ensure the safety of all.
What can you do? Here’s my short list.
- Resist gossip. I have asked the Department of Homeless Services to respond to concerns raised by members of the community and to answer our questions truthfully and clearly. In the meantime, if you hear something, try not to share it unless you know it’s true. We are all anxious enough without making things worse by spreading unsubstantiated rumors.
- Educate yourself. The city homeless crisis is complex and in many ways intractable. Here’s a video featuring the head of Project Renewal, one of the city’s oldest and best providers of shelters (and the agency managing the relocated shelter at the Lucerne Hotel).
- Communicate your concerns to our elected officials. The only way our city works is if we all are part of the solution. Here are links to the Mayor’s office, the Department of Homeless Services, our city council member Helen Rosenthal, our State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, our State Senator Robert Jackson, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
- Click here to read the letter that Gale recently wrote to the commissioner of the Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services, signed by all of our elected officials.
- Attend the Community Board 7 town hall on Monday, August 24. Click here to register.
- Call 911 if you see a crime or are concerned that one might be about to happen. Call 311 if you see something that, while not a crime, is inappropriate behavior on the street. The Police Department has told me that they depend on full reporting in order to do their jobs well.
- Check out the web page of The Joseph Stern Center for Social Responsibility if you are interested in offering volunteer assistance to the providers of the shelters. In the coming days, we will be learning how we can help. Your synagogue or church may also have resources—check them out.
What does it mean to be a neighborhood? It means looking out for one another, working with business leaders, government, religious and cultural institutions, and resisting the temptation to leave our values at the door. We are in the middle of a national health crisis, and we must do everything we can to reduce our fears and remain committed to each other and our community. We must remember that this crisis will end, and there will be much work to do to rebuild our neighborhood and our city.
The JCC is ready to join with partners in our neighborhood to do the work that strengthens the city we love. We hope you will join us.
Rabbi Joy Levitt
The JCC is Getting Ready
August 18, 2020
Dear JCC Members,
We are pleased to let you know we have received preliminary guidance from the Governor's office on reopening fitness operations in the JCC. As you know, the JCC Health Club has been hard at work planning for a smart, safe reopening with the health of our community in mind. We are eagerly awaiting more information from the Mayor's office and, with these combined government guidelines, will be formulating a precise timeline for reopening the fitness center, gymnasium, and pool.
We are currently reviewing our plans with our team of experts to make sure our Health Club meets or exceeds the guidelines while awaiting the city's instructions. We've established new protocols, developed an online reservation system, and re-mapped spaces to support social distancing. You can expect temperature checks, mask requirements, new directional traffic patterns, enhanced CDC-endorsed cleaning and disinfection protocols, and much more.
Meanwhile, The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School is busy preparing for a strong start to the nursery school year. Together, our Nursery School and Health Club teams are closely coordinating to ensure the health and safety of every child, adult, and staff member at the JCC.
Rest assured, your JCC membership remains on pause until we reopen the building, and we hope you'll continue to enjoy our virtual programs. As always, if you have any questions about your membership account, please email Membership.
We will update you on Health Club reopening plans as soon as we are able, and we look forward to welcoming you back to the JCC.
Rabbi Joy Levitt
Reopening the JCC
July 22, 2020
We hope this finds you and your families healthy. We miss seeing you in person and feeling the energy you bring to our building every day. It’s been a time of much uncertainty for everyone, but one thing is certain—we can’t wait to welcome you back.
We plan to reopen the building in early September starting with Fitness + Wellness operations. In order to maintain the highest standards of health and safety for our members and staff, we've established new protocols, re-mapped spaces to support social distancing, and reviewed our plans with a team of experts (including a physician, a hygienics consultant, and architects) in order to reopen in accordance with all CDC and New York City/State guidelines. As other JCC programs and services return to the building, we will keep you updated.
You’ll notice a number of changes in the reopened JCC, including:
- An online reservation system to reserve your workout time
- Touchless temperature checks and health declarations
- Mask requirements and social distancing regulations
- New and enhanced CDC-endorsed cleaning and disinfection procedures
- Limited capacities in Health Club facilities to allow for distancing and deep cleaning
- Contactless check-in and new lobby + elevator protocols
- Guided directional traffic patterns to promote minimal contact
- Separate building entrance and exit points
- Hand sanitizing + wipe stations and other healthy hygiene supports
- Clear, concise signage reinforcing safety protocols and wayfinding
- PPE requirements and training for staff
- Health and safety ambassadors to ensure a smooth experience
Look for more detailed communication from us in the weeks ahead that expands on the points above, including a webpage dedicated to reopening plans and protocols.
Your membership remains on pause, and you have not incurred any charges during our closure. Monthly billing will resume when we reopen the building, and monthly-paying members will be notified in advance. Annual memberships will be extended to cover the time period of closure.
The financial impact of COVID-19 on the JCC has been severe and we have had to rely on the generosity of our community more than ever. Thank you to those that have chosen to donate your membership dues or contribute to our Emergency Fund. There’s still time to help! Donate your monthly dues if you're able, or, if you're an annual member, let us renew your membership, without the extension, on your original anniversary date. These forms of support will help us reopen strongly and safely, and ensure that our staff and operations can continue to serve you. To donate your dues, or renew on your original schedule, please click here. If you have any questions about your account, please email our membership team or call 646.505.5700.
Thank you for your patience and loyalty. Your belief in the power of community to get us through tough times is what keeps us strong. When it comes time, we look forward to being reunited with you in the building.
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. Best wishes for a continued safe and healthy summer.
Rabbi Joy Levitt
As the Week Ends: July 3
July 3, 2020
Behind each magical JCC moment are unique and amazing people who make it all happen: our program team, marketers, fundraisers, audiovisual and technology staff, and so many others. Due to the financial impact of COVID-19, we’ve had to lay off or furlough 35% of our staff. It has been by far the hardest time in our institution's history. Each of these staff members has been a valuable asset to the JCC; each will be sorely missed.
We know these colleagues well. We have deep respect for their work; we know each other's families; we partner on important projects; and we dream together about all the ways we can make this community stronger. Just as we will feel their absence, we know that you will as well, either because the phone may ring an extra time before we answer or because there’s a program at the JCC that you love that may not run in the months ahead. I know that many of you have built relationships with people on our team, and I know you will miss them. We are all grateful to the departing staff for their incredible service to this community.
Which brings me to tomorrow, and the next day, and the days after that. The JCC you’ll see moving forward will be one marked by grit and ingenuity. We have always aimed to do work that is timely and relevant, to create joyful moments in Jewish life, and add meaning and value for so many people in our community. We will continue this work, even as we know it will look different. As we prepare to reopen the building as soon as it is safe to do so, your opinion is valuable to us. Please use this form to share your thoughts. How can we continue to play a role in your life?
Without your continued financial support, we would not be able to do the exceptional things we’re doing now. Our Emergency Fund was set up to keep bringing you virtual programs, to support our staff, and to enable us to safely reopen the building. I am committed to doing those things, now more than ever. Whether those programs bring seniors together in a game of bridge, encourage members of our Adaptations community to learn social skills, empower those looking to stay in shape while stuck indoors, or provide a fulfilling summer for kids deprived of camp, we’re determined to keep them coming.
As we head into Shabbat, please know that I remain fiercely dedicated to strengthening our community. The JCC has proven that it is so much more than a building. You’ve told us, through your stories of friendships made, lessons learned, and moments celebrated, that the JCC has always mattered and that it still does. Times are uncertain, but community is not.
Please stay well. I can’t wait to see you soon.
Rabbi Joy Levitt
June 18, 2020
Tomorrow night, as I sit down to Shabbat dinner for the first time in many months with some of our children, our discussion will not begin with the usual banter or even with predictions about when the city might reopen. Tomorrow night's dinner will begin with the recitation of the Emancipation Proclamation, which I must admit I have not read since high school. We will do this because it is a tradition on Juneteenth, a holiday that marks the day that Union Soldiers declared that the civil war was over and that the enslaved were free. The reading will be followed, I am sure, with a discussion in which our grown children interrogate us on how we have used our pulpits and privilege to advance the cause of racial justice. And while our answers will not satisfy them—and shouldn't satisfy us either—the conversation itself will mark an important moment, when we communicate again to our children (because the story must be told and retold) that our justice commitments and our Judaism are inextricably linked by a tradition that demands that we fight for those who are not yet free—because once we were not free and because we are expected to understand that every person is created in God's image.
Whether you celebrate Shabbat or not, whether it is your tradition to celebrate Juneteenth or not, I urge you to take time tomorrow with your friends, your families, or in your own quiet reflection, to deepen your understanding of this day, which Governor Cuomo has just declared a state holiday, and to commit to acts of justice.
Tomorrow night at Shabbat dinner, we will make Kiddush and bless our children, mindful that we have never worried that the color of their skin puts them at risk from the very people sworn to protect them, and with a deeper appreciation now of the anxiety that accompanies Black and Brown parents every day. We will make motzi over the challah and we will have our Shabbat meal. And before we conclude, we will recite the Kaddish for Black Lives.
For Rayshard Brooks. For George Floyd. For Breonna Taylor. For Ahmaud Arbery. And for so many more.
Rabbi Joy Levitt
We Look Forward to Seeing You,
with Executive Director Rabbi Joy Levitt
June 9, 2020
June 3, 2020
We are grieving and we are stunned by the horrific, public murder of George Floyd and by the injustice, violence, and uncertainty that has gripped our city and our country. We mourn the tragic deaths of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, David McAtee, and countless others. May they rest in peace. And may we not.
May we not rest in the illusion that this happened somewhere else. May we not get comfortable with the false belief that this murder is unusual. May we not become numb to the pain of mothers who cry for their sons, sisters for their brothers, children for their parents. Those who have enjoyed the privilege of white skin carry responsibility for the racism that is tearing apart our nation. Through negligence and silence, we have become accessories to the injustices committed against people of color in our nation.
When I was ten years old, I saw my mother cry for the first time. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that these were tears of joy—over the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which contained provisions barring discrimination and segregation in education, public facilities, jobs, and housing. I remember asking my mother if this meant the end to discrimination. She struggled to find language that would be comprehensible to a child about how this very important law did not, in fact, mean the end of discrimination, though perhaps it signaled a beginning.
Activism dominated my high school and college years, with demonstrations against the war in Vietnam, for civil rights and women's rights, the beginning of LGTBQ activism, and the fight to end the oppression of Soviet Jews. Our generation thought we were pretty powerful. We thought we ended segregation; the war ended; we believed women were liberated; and that we had at least begun to secure the rights of Lesbian and Gay people. Soviet Jews were allowed to leave. We were proud of the work and went on with our lives. Now it seems so shortsighted.
Because here we are. With the modern-day lynching of Black and Brown people by police, and the systemic racism so pervasive in so many aspects of our lives, not just in law enforcement, my mother's words are prescient. I don't mean to suggest that nothing was accomplished back then; only to say that it is abundantly clear that laws, while necessary, are not sufficient to move a society out of its refusal to accept responsibility for the stain of slavery, the lynchings that followed, the segregation that divided us further, and the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people that is our modern-day slavery.
And now here we are. The murder of George Floyd did not happen in a vacuum. It is on all of us to understand how we got to this terrible point in our country and work in partnership with communities of color to stop it. This is a moment when the Jewish values we hold dear must be lifted up by each of us. This is a time to donate to organizations fighting racism, to vote for those who commit to work for all who live in our country, regardless of the color of their skin. This is a time to join with others in the Jewish community and beyond who are working tirelessly to speak out against the taking of Black lives. This is a moment to learn, to care, to scream from the rooftops: Black Lives Matter. This is a time to scream from the rooftops: Not in my city. Not in my country. Not on my watch. This is not a time to expect others to do the work. I know that. This is on me and on many of you; I hope you will join me.
Rabbi Joy Levitt
We Miss You
May 7, 2020
I miss you. Every one of you. Those of you who swim and those of you who study. Those of you whose children giggle on the roof and those of you who play bridge. I miss the talk in the elevators and my training sessions in our fitness center. I even miss my trainer, which is saying a lot for this reluctant exerciser!
But it fills my heart to see the ways in which you are showing up. You're asking how you can help. You're emailing us to let us know what you need. You're reaching out to each other. You're supporting our Emergency Fund. Thousands of you have been coming to classes and concerts and our Lunch and Learn sessions. You read names of Holocaust victims with us overnight and celebrated Israel's birthday with music, cooking, and conversation. I am blown away by all of it, and beyond grateful.
As the weather warms and you begin to walk the streets of the UWS, you'll begin to see changes in the windows of our building. We want to share your messages of hope and gratitude for all to see. I think we can all use beauty and hope in the moments ahead. What are you grateful for right now? We want to know. Let us know by filling out this form and we'll display your words in the windows. Feel free to sign your name or make your words anonymous—either way, it's gratitude that will help us get through these challenging times.
We're continuing to think about the weeks to come, mindful that your health and safety are our first priority. As we await the day we can reopen, we're thinking about every aspect of our building and every possible way we can adapt so we can be together safely. Mostly, we're thinking about chesed—that hard-to-translate Hebrew word that describes a way of being in the world that exudes lovingkindness. It's a JCC filled with chesed to which we aspire, one in which you feel cared for and safe, in which the warmth of tradition can easily reach you, even from six feet away.
Stay well. Stay with us. We give you community and you give us life.
Rabbi Joy Levitt
P.S. To read responses to Rabbi Levitt's request, click here.
Our thoughts are with all of you now as you care for yourselves and your families during these very difficult days. Here at the JCC, we have had to make hard decisions in order to safeguard our community as we navigate this unprecedented time. We had hoped to reopen on April 20, but it is now apparent that this will not be the case. We will be in touch as soon as we know that it is safe to reopen. We are as eager to welcome you back as you are to return.
The closure has meant drastic reductions in revenue, specifically in program and membership fees, and has required major staff and programming adjustments. About 400 of our beloved staff have been furloughed, and everyone else has taken pay cuts. We remain committed to serving our community, especially those who are most vulnerable, including isolated older adults and people with special needs. This is why we have created the JCC Coronavirus Emergency Fund.
The goal of the fund is to quickly secure donations that will help us get through this crisis. Funds will be used to support staff, allow us to stay connected to you through online programming, and sustain us so that we may open our doors again. This has been the hardest moment in the JCC's history, and we need your support now more than ever. Please give what you can. Every dollar counts, and thanks to the generosity of some of our donors, every gift you make to the Emergency Fund will be matched dollar for dollar, so your gift will have double the impact. Please click here to make your matching gift.
As many of us prepare for Passover and Easter this week, we hold on to the values that unite us. Spring will come, and with it, the promise of growth and opportunity. We are a resilient community, and together we will get through this. It won't be easy and it won't be quick, but as I watch the generosity displayed by every health worker, every police officer and firefighter, every person sewing masks, buying groceries for neighbors, or calling isolated seniors, it's abundantly clear: Love is bigger than a virus.
Please take care of yourself and let us know if we can be of service to you or a loved one.
With fierce determination and heartfelt wishes for health and strength,
Rabbi Joy Levitt
I hope this email finds you and your loved ones well. Though we cannot physically be with you, please know we see you. We see your anxiety and isolation, and we see your creativity and generosity being expressed throughout our great city. We are doing our utmost to respond to you, and we will continue to do so as our extraordinary staff builds our virtual JCC every day.
I am writing to let you know that our building will be closed through Sunday, April 19 as we continue to monitor the state of our city, our schools, and the health of our community. We will update you on our plans accordingly.
We realize some of you have questions about your membership and program enrollment, and we appreciate your patience as we've prioritized the JCC's many pressing needs. You will be hearing from us separately very soon. Our strength comes from your incredible support and participation, whether through membership dues or class fees. This period of closure is financially challenging, and our staff is working around the clock to support your needs.
Programs that have begun to meet online—including JCC Nursery School, specific young children/pre-nursery programs, Ulpan classes, and several of our ongoing programs—will continue to meet as they have this past week.
Please look for the "Daily Roundup" email each weekday, which can help structure your day with activities and opportunities to stay engaged in the world through wellness, art, film, Jewish learning, and more. Also keep an eye on our Virtual JCC page for upcoming and ongoing opportunities. We're grateful to those of you who have let us know how much this means to you and to your families.
Making sure our community stays strong and supported is of utmost importance to us at this time. Please let us know if you need a caring connection or are able to offer help by filling out this form. We have a cohort of staff and volunteer leaders who are eager to be in touch with you in the days and weeks ahead.
- In one week we connected with over 1,000 people—young, old, and everyone in between
- Each day our nursery school teachers "meet" their students in virtual classrooms to continue to play and connect in new ways
- 160 Ulpan (Hebrew language learning) students meet up in structured classes online
- Each one of our communities of young adults with special needs met up throughout the week in chatrooms to stay connected and provide each other the support that they so need at this moment in time
- We have been offering ongoing health and wellness classes, including daily meditation five mornings a week at 7:30 am and four afternoons a week at 5:45 pm
- We ended the week with a wonderful pre-Shabbat concert by acclaimed klezmer clarinetist Michael Winograd
Over the past two weeks, we are aware of six people on our staff, board, and in our JCC community that have tested positive for COVID-19. We are pleased to report in each case, those people are doing well and recovering quickly. In each situation, we have been in direct touch with the communities or people who have been in direct contact with the individual who tested positive to make them aware of the particulars of their own potential exposure.
Difficult times require tremendous efforts. As we continue to move our community to a virtual platform, we need your support. Please consider making a donation to ensure that we can continue to serve our JCC family during the days ahead.
Stay home and stay healthy.
Rabbi Joy Levitt
We are writing to let you know that we have made the difficult decision to close the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and JCC Harlem through March 27. We want to be clear: We are not aware of ANY new reports of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan (and there were no reports at JCC Harlem). We are taking this step because we are listening to health experts who say the best way to keep everyone safe is to practice social distancing. We want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Because so much of our work at our buildings is about bringing people together, this feels like the right time to think out of the box (quite literally) and serve our community beyond our buildings. We are so proud of the community we have built—our thousands of older adults who are here every week, our hundreds of adults with special needs, our cancer care and Parkinson’s participants, along with thousands of infants and young children and everybody in between—and we are committed to keeping everyone who walks through our doors safe and healthy.
Sometimes the right thing to do is also the hard thing to do. We know that now more than ever, many in our community will feel more isolated as a result of our decision. We are committed to our core values and we know we are MORE THAN JUST BUILDINGS. As we write this letter, our staff is mobilizing to create opportunities real and virtual for us to stay connected. We are thinking about a volunteer corps to support our seniors, zoom meditation and stress reduction classes, Jewish learning online, cooking demos, free streaming of our films, group fitness classes on our Youtube channel, and much more.
To our JCC Members and enrolled program participants: please know that we take seriously the investment you make in your and your family’s JCC participation. We will communicate directly with you as soon as we are able regarding your membership or missed programs. As our staff is occupied prioritizing health and safety and reorganizing certain operations, your patience is appreciated.
There is so much we don’t know and yet what we know is also powerful. We know that we are responsible for one another. We know that at times like this, generosity expands our sense of well-being. We know that when we are kinder and more caring, we not only help others but feel better ourselves as well.
In the past week, we have seen an outpouring of support for our JCC and, frankly, for us personally. Whatever other communities of which you are a part, we urge you to let them know you are grateful for their work. You should never underestimate how much your words matter. And when you have a criticism because we don’t always get it right, please be mindful that here, your words matter as well. Don’t hesitate to help us do better; we rely on your feedback.
Most of our staff will be working remotely during this time. We want to give a huge shout out to them. They are the most dedicated folks we have ever seen and are balancing their own health concerns, travel issues, and family challenges along with the rest of us. We are all stronger for their commitment and dedication.
At the end of the day, the board of directors and the staff made this call together. We did so with tremendous thoughtfulness and care for the community and staff. It is in just these moments when we understand how important the community/professional relationship really is, and ours is quite extraordinary. We want to publicly thank the members of our board (click here for their names) for their constant support as we navigate these choppy seas.
We hope to have better news in the weeks to come. We are a resilient community and we know we will get through this—together. In the meantime, please do everything you can to stay healthy and ensure the health of those around you.
Rabbi Joy Levitt
Sheryl J. Kaye
Chair, Board of Directors
We are writing to let you know that we learned today that a child who was in a program at the JCC on Saturday night has since tested positive for COVID-19 along with her mother. Both mother and child are currently asymptomatic and doing well, and we appreciate their quick and honest communication with us. All parents with children in that program have been directly notified of the specific situation.
Out of an abundance of caution, the Board of Directors of the JCC has made the decision to close the JCC tomorrow (Wednesday, Mar 11) and Thursday, Mar 12 in order to do a thorough and deep hospital-grade sanitizing of our building. It is our expectation that we will reopen on Friday; should that change, you will hear from us.
While the Department of Health has not asked us to close any part of the JCC, we believe this is the right decision as we navigate these uncharted waters. Our concern for your health and safety is always uppermost in our minds.
The JCC is more than a building. It is the heart of our community and we are here for you even when we aren’t physically open. You will be hearing from us with suggestions about how to stay engaged and connected with the many resources we have available. Our staff will be working diligently to help you find good films, podcasts, articles, and lectures worth taking a look at, and making suggestions about how to stay healthy and connected.
Please email us if you have any questions. We will stay in touch as more information becomes available. We are deeply grateful to those of you who have called or emailed with your support for our work during these challenging times. Now it’s time to call the people you love, hold the people you can, and remember that together we will get through this. We remain committed to the community we are building—one filled with chesed/lovingkindness and connections to one another.
Rabbi Joy Levitt
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions. If you don't see the answer to your question here, send us an email and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
What steps is the JCC taking to ensure the building is clean?
- We are consulting with health agencies, including the New York City and NY State Department of Health, as well as the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who provide guidance about actions to help prevent the spread of any respiratory disease.
- We have stepped up our hygiene and cleaning practices, including the frequent cleaning of commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs, handrails, and table tops, as well as locker rooms and fitness equipment, with a combination of alcohol-based and hospital-grade cleansers.
- You will see more hand sanitizer stations around the JCC as well. We have introduced additional disinfectants throughout the day as an extra precaution. In addition, the JCC is piloting a new daily cleaning protocol using a special sanitizing machine that will be used on every floor of the building.
When should I stay home?
- The CDC and NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene recommend that you stay home if you have a fever and/or flu-like symptoms and see your healthcare provider if appropriate.
- The CDC recommends that older adults and those who have chronic illness or are otherwise immunocompromised should stay home as much as possible, avoid those who appear ill, and avoid large gatherings.
- The Department of Health & Mental Hygiene is asking New Yorkers who return from the following countries to self-isolate for 14 days as a precaution: China, Iran, Italy, South Korea and Japan. Please note, other countries may be added to this list and it may be updated based on current news.
- To return to the JCC, you must be fever-free or symptom-free for 24 hours unmedicated.
What steps should I take to avoid becoming ill?
- Wash your hands frequently and vigorously for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, especially after touching public surfaces. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid handshakes, hugs, and high fives.
- Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, sleeve, or your elbow.
- Immediately dispose of used tissues and wash or sanitize your hands.
Are programs being cancelled?
- While a limited number of programs have been canceled, as of Mar 9, there is no plan to widely cancel JCC programs. As we move forward, on a case by case basis, some may need to be cancelled, postponed, or rescheduled.
I'm sure you've each received many Coronavirus-related emails and news updates, but as the week comes to a close, I wanted to reach out to let you know the latest on the steps we are taking.
First, please know that you—our community—are on my mind and in my heart. We are "in this" with you and working closely with our staff and lay leadership to (1) pay attention to the ever-changing situation and (2) adapt our programming and cleaning practices in ways that minimize the transmission of germs in our building. We also continue to be in close communication with the New York City and New York State Departments of Health, and appreciate their support and clarity as questions come up.
A few specific notes:
- This Saturday's (Mar 7) R&R Shabbat program is cancelled. It will give us an opportunity to do a thorough cleaning of our building from L3 to the 8th floor.
- The fitness center, gymnasium, and pool will remain open, and other weekend programs will continue to operate as scheduled.
- As you may have heard, out of an abundance of caution, many neighborhood Purim carnivals (including the one scheduled for this Sunday at JCC Harlem) have been cancelled. That doesn't mean you can't use the time at home to celebrate. Whip up some delicious hamentaschen (s'mores-flavored!), check out this fun Purim piece in the Daily News, or invite your neighbors along and start up a wild and crazy costume parade in your hallway. It's the UWS...why not?
And here are some helpful resources for you:
As we face this outbreak, individuals and communities need to strike a balance between vigilance and the need to go on living our lives. This is hard to do, but important. Please take a deep breath, make a phone call to someone who might be more isolated, and let them know that they are not alone. Understand that everyone expresses anxiety in different ways—so be patient and kinder than necessary.
As the situation changes and there is more to say, we will continue to be in communication with you.
Rabbi Joy Levitt
As public attention worldwide focuses on the novel coronavirus outbreak, and with the news of the first confirmed case in New York City, we know that this may be causing some unease, and want to let you know about our response at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan.
We consult with health agencies, including the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, as well as the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who provide guidance about actions to help prevent the spread of any respiratory disease. We also reference policies and practices of organizations such as the New York City Department of Education, and we reflect on our own past experiences with other diseases, including flu outbreaks such as novel influenza H1N1.
At the JCC, we are stepping up our hygiene practices, including the frequent cleaning of commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs, handrails, and table tops, as well as locker rooms and fitness equipment, with a combination of alcohol-based and hospital-grade cleansers. You will see more hand sanitizer stations around the JCC as well. We are introducing additional disinfectants throughout the day as an extra precaution.
This is a good occasion to review what each of us can do to help our community remain healthy at all times. We are all in this together.
- Keep others healthy – We are in the business of welcoming people into our space, so it feels strange to say “stay home.” But if you or your child have a fever and/or flulike symptoms, please do remain at home and see your healthcare provider if appropriate. We are asking the same of our staff. It is good practice to cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, using a tissue or sleeve, and throwing tissues in a bin immediately after use.
- Keep yourself healthy – Wash your hands frequently and vigorously for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, especially after touching public surfaces. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Keep working out – Please remember to wipe down equipment in the fitness areas before and after using. Disinfectant wipes are available on the fitness floor and in all studios.
In addition to prevention, I also want to emphasize the value of chesed, or kindness. During stressful times, people may incorrectly direct their fear toward others. I want to remind us all to counter stigma by learning and sharing facts. Viruses do not target specific racial or ethnic groups. We stand together at the JCC with all of our New York communities.
Thanks for joining us and doing your part to help keep the JCC a healthy and safe environment. We welcome you to upcoming weekend activities—our fitness center, aquatics center, gymnasium, and community spaces are open and thriving. We will continue to carefully monitor and plan for changing conditions, and will share updates with you as soon as they become available.
Rabbi Joy Levitt
The process of renovating the 7th floor has begun. We anticipate this project being complete just after Passover 2020.
We've heard from many of you about how the environment impacts your experience at the JCC, and hope that the addition of items such as smart boards, new chairs, and improved lighting and sound will positively affect how you learn, connect, and enjoy being part of this community. That matters to us, and we're pleased to be spending January through April preparing for the decades ahead.
What can you expect during construction?
It's our goal to minimize the inconvenience and ensure you continue to get the most out of your programs. One elevator will be dedicated to transporting project materials in the mornings from 6-8:30 am. Elevator doors will not open on the 7th Floor during construction/renovation work.
What can you expect after construction?
Smart boards, new chairs, new lighting and sound equipment, as well as a Beit Midrash and Library flexible enough to become one large space, or two or three smaller ones, with the addition of soundproof, movable walls. The Makom meditation space will enjoy improved sound mitigation and storage.
Questions or comments?
Click here to leave your question or comment in a form, and we'll respond to you as soon as we can.
We know that construction of any kind can be an inconvenience, but we look forward to welcoming you back into these spaces after Passover. I hope you'll agree that the renovations make a difference in your experience, and that your future here is worth investing in.