May 18, 2020 UPDATE:
Dear JCA Family,
Over the past 9 weeks, we have learned so much about our community and about its resiliency and capacity for change. As difficult as the last two months have been, all of us have proven capable of far more than we might have anticipated when this began.
The JCA’s programmatic structure and offerings have been tested by the challenges we have faced, but rather than retreating from our work, we have stepped forward and learned to do things differently. We have rededicated ourselves to the commitments we hold dear: taking care of those in need, sharing the comfort, wisdom, and inspiration we find in Jewish life with those of all ages, and maintaining cherished connections between dear friends, families and neighbors.
Together with the other public, community-facing organizations throughout Portland, we are still in the process of planning for reopening. When the JCA is able to open its doors, you will be the first to know, and we can’t wait to greet you from a distance when the time is right. Thank you for the many ways you support the strength and ongoing capacity of this unique and wonderful community.
L’hitraot (see you again),
Molly Curren Rowles
JCA Executive Director
April 24, 2020 UPDATE:
When the JCA closed our doors, we knew that the process of reopening would be complex. Following city and state guidelines, and to support the safety of our community, the JCA facility will remain closed until May 18th. We will continue to carefully monitor changes and developments, and to communicate via our website, social media, and email as our plans for the spring and summer take shape.
We want to thank the many donors and friends whose commitment to the JCA inspires us every day. Like many other nonprofits in Maine, we recently received a “Payroll Protection Program” grant through the CARES Act, which will allow us to maintain our existing staffing structure through June.
Though the building is closed, our programs are not; staff are continuing their work virtually in so many ways, and whether it is through food, diapers, or referrals provided by KJFS; PJ Library online activities; community-wide virtual programs; or regular check-ins by phone or Zoom with teachers, friends, and neighbors, we will maintain our services to you through this challenging time.
Many people have questions about Center Day Camp and whether we can open this summer. Our staff are working diligently with state and local authorities, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control, JCC Camps, the American Camp Association, and Maine Summer Camps (MSC). Everyone is dedicated to ensuring safety as our primary goal; at the same time, we know how important Camp experiences are for children. If there is any way for us to open camp, with or without modifications to schedule, structure, or size, we will do so. We anticipate being able to make a decision in late May or early June. In the event that we are not able to open, we are already developing high quality, unique and fun virtual camp experiences together with other JCC camps around the country.
Lots of us who are in Maine right now have learned to look forward to the daily briefings by Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah. In addition to his incredible depth of medical and scientific knowledge, he has steadfastly reminded us to navigate this crisis as human beings, attuned to our emotional needs and the importance of remaining connected even though we are physically apart.
While this distancing is painful, our community is a balm, and it has been wonderful to ‘see’ many of you at the statewide Shabbat, the Yom Ha’Shoah memorial and film discussion, and in classes and social gatherings. We hope you join us next week for the worldwide Yom Ha’atzmaut event, and at other new programs being offered virtually throughout May and June. If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. J staff are here for you and will be happy to hear from you.
L’hitraot. We’ll see you soon.
Molly Curren Rowles
MARCH 23, 2020 UPDATE:
The JCA’s Board and Executive Director have voted to extend the closure of the JCA and the Goldman Family Preschool through April 27th.
Our teams are creating online opportunities for engagement and connection that we hope to maintain throughout the closure. In addition to those focused within the Goldman Family Preschool, please also check out our new JCA Virtual Experience, and keep checking back for more.
Dear JCA Community,
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the temporary closure of the JCA, including the Goldman Family Preschool, beginning March 16th, for two weeks, through March 30th. In light of the unique dynamics of this global pandemic, and in solidarity with the community, we are closing in order to support “social distancing” which we understand can help reduce the rate of transmission to ensure that all can access the medical care they need.
It feels so strange for us to maintain separation at a time when we all want to be together, but we need to support our public health professionals and first responders. Today, our commitment to Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) requires that we adapt in this new way. We will continue to monitor the situation and assess the appropriate timeframe for reopening as soon as possible. Staff will work from home for now, and there is much to keep them busy, as we will seek to create virtual opportunities for meaningful connection, learning, and fun, as well as sharing ideas for activities that adults, families, and kids can enjoy at home. Please listen to the J’s Spotify playlist, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and here at mainejewish.org for updates and new efforts. Please also feel free to be in touch if you have an idea for something we could do or that you would like to virtually collaborate on.
In the event that closure of our building is extended, we know there will be many questions about how closure affects program related fees and enrollment expenses. We will share an update on those topics as soon as responsible and clear decisions have been made. We are hopeful that our members and donors will continue to support the JCA in any way possible during this period of time, so that we can ensure the JCA remains prepared to meet the needs of our community for years to come.
The KJFS food pantry will open on a modified, drive-through pick up basis for the day this Tuesday to distribute food and diapers; boxes have been made up already and we can ensure that social distancing is practiced throughout. We are planning to close KJFS to the public at the end of the pantry day on Tuesday; Diapers are being transferred right now to City of Portland storage for distribution via WIC (for now just to public health nurses and case workers – not the general public) and the family shelter, but we will continue to participate in the broader food and diaper distribution system currently in development.
We are fortunate to live in Maine, a place of great natural beauty and vibrant community, and our appreciation of our surroundings and one another grows during challenging times. We are faced with a situation that we cannot control or change, but we can stay true to the knowledge that inspires us to take care of ourselves and others. What we do today may seem small, but our integrity of purpose will bear fruit in the health and prosperity of the community that we love.
In Hebrew, we say L’hitraot – we will see you later, we will see you soon. We look forward to gathering virtually in the weeks to come, and to spending time together in person as soon as possible.
Molly Curren Rowles
JCA Executive Director