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שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם ~ Shabbat Shalom, 24 Adar, 5780

What Does the Coronavirus Crisis Mean for the JCC Movement?

Dear Friends of the JCC Movement,

As we continue to monitor the evolving realities of the COVID-19 crisis, I want to update you on the devastating impact it is having on the JCC Movement and its Jewish Community Centers and Jewish Community Camps (JCCs) across North America.

At this moment, the overwhelming majority of North America’s JCCs have closed their doors for periods still to be determined and discontinued all in-person programming and events—most for the foreseeable future. As a testament to their professional staff’s commitment to continuing to serve the 1.5 million members and families of every faith, age, and background who come through their doors each week, JCCs are quickly generating an enormous reservoir of meaningful, online programming and other creative content to help them stay connected. From online fitness classes to family engagement activities, adult education, and more, JCCs in communities throughout North America are rising to meet the programmatic challenges virtually, while providing food deliveries to homebound seniors and childcare for medical professionals, first responders, and other essential workers.

In the nonprofit, faith-based sector, JCCs are a $1.6 billion economic engine in communities across the continent. An average of 79% of JCCs’ earned income comes from program fees and services, none of which are being collected while the facilities remain closed. The vast majority of JCCs’ expenses—between $1 and $1.1 billion—are personnel costs. As a result, every JCC is facing monumental financial challenges and an imminent threat to its solvency. JCC Association of North America recently signed onto an open letter to Congress coordinated by the National Council of Nonprofits that advocates on behalf of nonprofit organizations for $60 billion in relief funding as part of a $1 trillion federal stimulus bill currently being written.

During the last two weeks, JCC Association has been supporting JCCs by convening leadership webinars and video conferences on public health, risk mitigation, labor relations and human resource law, and security and under-utilized facilities, as well as dozens of virtual gatherings organized by professional cohort (early childhood education, camping, inclusion, senior services, etc.). We also are developing a comprehensive library of resources in individual program areas, all of which can be shared across the JCC Movement through our intranet site, JCCA.me. We also are compiling virtual programming from growing numbers of JCCs that independently have made their content available to the entire field.

In the coming days and weeks, we will continue to provide all manner of support and resources to every JCCs to ensure that they, in turn, can serve their communities at a time when their programs and services may be more necessary than ever. Earlier today, JCC Association’s Board of Directors announced that it is suspending dues for all 164 JCCs, enabling us to take every JCC into our embrace as we make our way through these uncharted waters together. This suspension represents the equivalent of a $3 million contribution to our centers and camps.

We also are stepping-up our advocacy efforts on their behalf with government, philanthropic and organizational leadership on the local, national, and continental levels. We are taking this step not only to maintain the more than century-long history and tradition of our civic and social network that has supported Jews and non-Jews in all facets of life but also to safeguard today’s JCC network so it can fulfill its crucial mission—to build Jewish communities and enrich North American Jewish life—today and for generations to come.

Now, more than ever, please consider donating to your local JCC or to JCC Association of North America.

As always, and especially in today’s world, we are extremely grateful for your support. Thank you and Shabbat shalom.

Shabbat shalom שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם

Doron Krakow

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