March normally brings about the promise of Spring, the excitement of the NCAA basketball tournament, and preparations for Passover. Instead, we find ourselves grappling with the uncertainty of what will happen in the coming weeks and days. To say this moment in time is like no other I’ve been through would be an understatement.
For most of us, we have never experienced anything to this magnitude in our lifetime. We may have watched movies and television shows about “mysterious” illnesses that completely upended society, never thinking something like that could actually happen. And yet here we are.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our government has implemented closures and restrictions in an effort to slow down the spread of the virus. Many businesses and organizations are closed, including schools and universities, bars, restaurants, stores, and rec centers. For businesses and organizations that are still open, some have had to make the difficult decision to cancel and postpone events, suspend the operation of certain departments, or require their employees to work from home.
The Federation and its agencies are no exception. Effective at the end of business today, our Early Childhood will be closed through at least April 3rd. This decision was made with great consideration and guidance, and did not come easily. While we are saddened by this decision, we know that the health and safety of our preschool families and staff are of the upmost important.
Although our day-to-day operations may look different right now, there is still a lot of work to be done. Jewish Family Services is mobilizing to ensure our most vulnerable community members’ needs are met. Many of our staff are meeting (virtually) with other JCCs and Federations throughout the U.S. to create long term plans for circumstances that may occur in the coming weeks and months. And, many of us still have day-to-day tasks that need to be done.
One thing that is critical during this time of social distancing is that we maintain a way to stay connected. While we are not able to physically come together as a Jewish community, we wanted to create a way to take that concept and mold it into something that can work in our present world.
With that in mind, we are working to create a “Virtual Community.” This community will include things such as a Jewish book club, Jewish film discussions, a tech series, PJ Library, etc. – in which you can participate from the safety of your home. We will keep you abreast as more pieces of our Virtual Community comes together.
I hope you and your family remain resilient and healthy during this trying time. If you – or anyone you know – needs help, please contact Tara Feiner, Jewish Family Services Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-610-1555.
I want to leave you with this amazing quote one of my colleagues sent me yesterday. It was in an article on “Grown and Flown.” It reads “When the Apollo 13 oxygen tank failed and the lunar module was in danger of not returning to earth, Gene Kranz, the lead flight director overheard people saying that this could be the worst disaster NASA had ever experienced—to which he is rumored to have responded, ‘With all due respect, I believe this is going to be our finest hour.’
Imagine if we could make our response to this crisis our finest hour. Imagine if a year or two from now we looked back on this and told the stories of how we came together as a team in our community, in our state, in our nation and across the world.
Your contribution to the finest hour may seem small, invisible, inconsequential—but every small act of ‘not doing’ what you were going to do, and ‘doing’ an act of kindness or support will add up exponentially. These acts can and will save lives. The Apollo 13 crew made it their finest hour by letting go of the word ‘I’ and embracing the word ‘we.’ And that’s the task required of us. It can only be our finest hour if we work together. You are all on the team. And we need all of you to shine in whatever way you can.”
May we go from strength to strength.
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