Momentum. We can feel it. We know a little something about rebuilding and rebirth after a significant challenge and we see the signs. With the encouraging and hopeful news that Connecticut’s vaccination rate is amongst the highest in the nation and loosening restrictions, the community is beginning to open up with many congregations finding safe and creative ways to resume in-person events and services. Hybrid and in-person programs are ratcheting up and membership in our JCC is beginning to bounce back.
Of course, our Jewish community never ceased in providing meaningful programs, worship, services and activities during the pandemic. Many of the accommodations and adjustments made to ensure that community bonds would continue have been enhanced as we discover a new normal. There have been silver linings during the pandemic; discovering new ways to maintain connections from afar is certainly one of them.
I am reminded of one of the most powerful lessons we learned in the wake of the fire that devastated our JCC building. When we opened our temporary fitness center on Research Drive in Woodbridge just weeks after fire, we expected that members would run to their favorite treadmill, elliptical or bike, and get back to the business of exercise. But that wasn’t what happened. Rather, people ran to one another. They embraced. They smiled. They found a spot to sit and catch up. They missed one another. They missed the intimacy of community.
We are working every day to reopen more and more of our community building and campus to ensure that once again the Beckerman/Lender Jewish Community Building on the JCC campus will be your home away from home as we commit to maintaining our vibrant virtual footprint to service all—near and far. When you return, you will notice some physical changes and enhancements that are underway. The Vine Family Auditorium is receiving a top-tobottom renovation complete with a new ceiling, floor and wall panels. The Community Room is also receiving a facelift with a new ceiling, floor and refreshed walls. Both rooms will be ready to host expanded programming and events. Concurrently, the new security desk and entryway is under construction, creating a safe, bullet- and intruder-resistant system to keep our members, visitors and staff safe. We are also creating a new picnic grove area next to the building to support increased outdoor programming and space for the community to enjoy. We are so thankful to our community for their support and devotion during this challenging time. We are thankful to the federal government for making the Payroll Protection Program available to us, literally enabling us to keep our doors open.
We are thankful to the national Jewish community that provided a significant zero-interest loan. And we are especially thankful to the Beverly Levy Early Learning Center families and JCC members who stuck with us through thick and through thin. During times like these, we are reminded of the generosity of spirit and the kindness and caring nature that makes the Jewish community of Greater New Haven so special. We know that we will go from strength to strength, and that we will not just survive, but thrive. Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for enabling our Jewish Federation to be your partner in strengthening our Jewish community for today and tomorrow.