an inscription on the wall: "welcoming strangers -- let your house be open wide, pirkei avot"
Inscriptions on the wall in the main lobby of the JCC of San Francisco. (Photo/Joyce Goldschmid)

JCCs, other local Jewish institutions close facilities due to coronavirus

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As the coronavirus crisis rolls on and more and more events across the Bay Area are canceled — including services at most synagogues — JCCs as well as Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay and the San Francisco-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services are making major adjustments to their operations, some shutting down their facilities entirely.

JCCSF is suspending all operations beginning March 14. The fitness center will undergo a deep cleaning before reopening on March 16. All other programs and events are canceled through March 27.

The Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto will be closed for at least two weeks, beginning at 8 p.m. on March 15. “This is a terribly painful decision,” the OFJCC said an email to its community. Everything held in its building will be on hold, including the fitness center and preschool. “The role of the Jewish Community Center has always been to be the one place that people can gather, connect with one another, and exercise their bodies, minds and souls. It is a place where people welcome and take care of one another. That continues to be our mission. In the coming days, we will be working to find creative ways to keep connecting people with each other, whether that is through distance learning or exercise broadcasts or check-ins with isolated people in our community.

JCC of the East Bay in Berkeley has canceled all programs and will be completely closed to the public for a month beginning March 15. “At times like this, we have a rich history of taking care of one another and coming together,” the JCC said in an email to its community. “We will be working to find creative ways to keep our community connected and cared for.” It also emphasized the impact on its staff: “They are incredible and they are dedicated. The JCC East Bay is committed to offering them the highest level of support possible during a time of great uncertainty. We need to act on our values and ensure continuity for them, and for our community when we reopen.”

As of March 13, the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael is open, and leaders of the organization will announce what measures will be taken going forward by the end of the day. All public events have been canceled for the next two weeks.

The Peninsula JCC in Foster City is not closed. Friday late afternoon they released this statement: “As of now we are open to the community with modified fitness offerings and many programs and activities postponed, canceled or going digital to practice social distancing and keep people safe.”

Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay said in a statement that it is “rapidly shifting toward interacting with clients by phone or video chat wherever possible.” The agency also has canceled in-person events and groups, though some will be held virtually.

Similar measures are being taken by Jewish Family and Children’s Services, which serves four counties. It is also moving many services online, including one-on-one counseling and some group counseling. “For our seniors at home program, caregivers are being trained on CDC recommendations.,” JFCS said in a statement. “We have increased outreach calls to seniors to make sure that they’re doing well and are safe. This is a very stressful time for seniors so we want to make sure that we’re there for them.”

Contact your synagogue to see what arrangements have been made for Shabbat services. Most have canceled, but some synagogues will be livestreaming a candlelighting or full service.