Q: How’s it going at the MJCCA after reopening?
Jared: We are so happy to have the Marcus JCC back open!
Our fitness offerings and outdoor pool have been very welcome offerings to the community during our Stage 1 opening! We have loved seeing bodies being challenged and hearing so many children splashing in the pool! It’s been terrific hearing from so many people in the community that they are making new memories at the JCC in the pool, on Lake RB as they go in the boats, and just feel safe at the JCC as they venture out of the house.
Stage 2 (on June 29) will see Summer Days at the J in-person camp program, July at the J in- person preschool program and small group recreational programming like Intro to Golf, Fitline Jr., Kickball and Flag football,to name just a few. We know this will be very important for families as they begin to return to work and require safe activities for their children.
Every day seeing people on the Zaban Park campus warms all of the staff’s hearts. The Marcus JCC is more than just buildings and campuses; we are truly a home away from home.
Q: What were the most challenging considerations that had to be thought through before reopening?
Jared: As health and safety are always our first priority, we wanted to be as prepared as possible. We consulted with CDC and health professionals, sat on countless webinars and endless conference calls. We also had to think through so many different areas of our business: residential camping, day camping, preschool, fitness, professional offices, etc. The COVID-19 pandemic required us to raise our demanding standards to an even higher level with new protocols for the current circumstances, such as physical distancing, health screenings, enhanced disinfection, use of masks, and installation of UV light in our HVAC systems, just name a few.
Q: What have you learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that you’ll use going forward?
Jared: The best lessons we learned were how to be nimble and agile, how to be flexible and how to pivot. When we closed our doors on March 13 and didn’t reopen them until June 1, we moved all of our programming online – quickly, almost overnight. Preschool teachers doing “circle time” and bedtime stories on Facebook Live, Zumba classes and meditation online, trivia, arts and crafts, music and yoga all became signature virtual programs that our community looked forward to – from their bedroom or backyard!
The Lisa F. Brill Institute for Jewish Learning brought meaningful classes to learners all over the city who were hungry for a way to connect. Book Festival presented famous authors like Phil Donahue, Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda right to your living room! Our active mature adults may have been more active on Zoom than they were playing pickleball, and our Blonder Dept for Special Needs participants have conquered Zoom and Facebook and have had talent shows and their SOAR Banquet virtually while staying connected daily so they aren’t isolated. Rabbi Glusman has brought beautiful, spiritual moments of prayer and song to our homes for Passover Seders and Shabbat.
The Marcus Jewish Community of Atlanta is always your home away from home; and we learned it can also be your home while at-home. I am humbled that our dedicated essential staff found a way to engage and inspire tens of thousands of Atlantans during this most unpredictable time. This is ingenuity – creativity – and dedication – at its best.
I always knew it, but the Marcus JCC has THE most dedicated staff around. While at home, caring for young children themselves, our staff provided virtual classes, virtual workouts, virtual everything for YOU because we are all in this together. I am beyond proud.