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COVID-19 Member Updates

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A Message from Barak & Randi - April 24, 2020:

Dear Members,

We are all living in a time like no other, as the COVID 19 pandemic has impacted our lives, our community and our economy.  All of us have been forced to make very hard decisions—decisions that shape our ability to sustain ourselves and serve the community we hold so close.

Over the last few weeks, we have made heartbreaking decisions.  This week was very difficult as we furloughed nearly 100 full time JCC employees, including all of our preschool teachers.  Faced with an indefinite closure, we had no choice but to reduce our workforce in all departments.  

Our staff is part of the JCC family.  The JCC Board of Directors approved our desire to pay both the employer and employee portion of our furloughed employees’ medical insurance to provide them with additional cash relief. Thanks to our partners at The Associated, we are able to make this happen. In addition, our HR department is providing guidance to help navigate the unemployment system.  We are working closely with our Associated sister agency, Jewish Community Services, to connect our staff with support services available in our community.

A team of 43 JCC staff has been retained to plan for summer camp, open our Rec Park and to make sure we will be ready to reopen our schools, fitness centers, pools and Gordon Center when we are legally permitted to do so.  This team will also continue to implement our Virtual-J platform so that we can provide a place of virtual community, outreach, engagement, and enrichment for all of you.  The hundreds of emails and positive feedback we have received regarding our virtual fitness offerings, youth, preschool and arts programming has sustained us. We are grateful to the thousands of members still supporting us by turning their monthly membership payment into a tax-deductible donation to the J.

The JCC, in collaboration with all of the Associated network agencies, applied for funding as part of the Federal CARES Act.  Unfortunately, we were notified by our bank that funding ran out while our loan was in process.  We are hopeful we will receive funding in this round.  

While we are heartbroken for our staff, we remain laser-focused on our commitment to do everything we can to meet your needs.   During this unprecedented time in the Baltimore JCC’s 166 year history, we stand resolute in our commitment to all of you. 

Please stay safe and healthy.  Your continued support means the world to us, our staff and our community.

Warm regards,

Randi Buergenthal, Board Chair
Barak Hermann, CEO


A Message from Barak & Randi - March 26, 2020:

“A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness.” --Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi

Dear JCC Members,

In this time of uncertainty, we are all looking for a bit of light—a connection, a friend that we can rely on, a respite and some semblance of a routine. At the J, we are more committed than ever to shining a light of hope into our community. We want you to know that your J is here for you:

  • Your Virtual J community is a place where you can continue to depend on the J for fitness opportunities, wellness advice, activities for youth of all ages and even arts and culture engagement, all designed to keep you and your family healthy and entertained. Stay connected with us at
  • If you have young children, tune in for virtual classes in cooking, music, movement and more!
  • Join us for weekly pre-Shabbat gatherings online and stay tuned for our Passover Seder offerings, including a virtual Seder with Sara Shalva, our Chief Arts Officer, and her family.
  • Coming in April...Charm City Bluegrass Presents: Digi‐Fest streaming LIVE from the Gordon Center with a variety of local, regional and national artists. Presented in partnership with WTMD and Union Craft Brewing.

We are adding to our online offerings each day, so be sure to let us know what you would like to see, as your J community is just a click away at:

Please help us so we can be here for you, with the staff, programming and activities you have come to depend on:

  • Your membership dues ensure that we can continue to operate and open with the services and programs that you have come to count on. For each month that you maintain your membership while we are closed, you will receive a $25 J gift card to thank you for your continued support. Redeem your gift cards for camp, select Gordon Center events and more. Beginning in April, your membership fee will be considered a tax-deductible donation, and we will be happy to provide you with a letter for tax purposes.
  • Can’t afford your monthly payment? We are here for you. Please let our membership team know so that they can help you work out a solution. Simply contact or call: 410.559.3512.
  • Share our emails and social media content with your friends so that they can enjoy our virtual activities as well. If they become a JCC member when we re-open, we will give you a $50 J gift card as a referral fee.
  • Consider a donation to The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. By supporting The Associated, you are helping to support the JCC and other agencies who serve vulnerable populations throughout our community. Your help is especially needed to combat food insecurity, isolation and mental health and unemployment in our community. Even $5 or $10 can make a difference. Donate here:

We are one community and we are here to support you. If you need guidance, resources or assistance, please contact our sister agency, Jewish Community Services (JCS) at the JCS Access Line, 410.466.9200 or email

Together, we can all be the light in this time of darkness. We will get through this and come together to celebrate and share brighter days soon. Thank you for your continuous support.
Our very best to you and your family.

Randi Buergenthal, Chair of the Board
Barak Hermann, JCC CEO
JCC of Greater Baltimore

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A Message from Barak & Randi - March 13, 2020:

Dear JCC Community,

We have made the difficult decision to close the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, the Gordon Center For Performing Arts, the Weinberg Park Heights JCC, and the Downtown Baltimore JCC effective this Sunday evening, March 15 through Sunday, March 22.  We will use the coming days to determine ways to best serve our community as we make decisions on a weekly basis. Our program department staff is currently working to develop virtual programming that engages our membership and the entire community during this difficult time. 

We want to be clear: we are not aware of any additional reports of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Baltimore County or in our JCC communities.  However, we are taking this step to safeguard the health and well being of our community.  We are following the recommendations of the CDC and health experts who say that the most prudent decision at this juncture is to practice social distancing. 

We believe this is the right action for now.  At the JCC, we take pride in our ability to bring our community together in meaningful ways.  It is our intention to continue to build and engage our community in a virtual way.  We invite you to join us as we begin streaming group fitness classes, kids programming,  a Shabbat community experience for our Early Learning Center families and more.   Please continue to follow us on Facebook and at for updates, new online efforts, and other helpful resources. We will surely be in active communication.

During this process, we are actively reviewing how the closure of our buildings affects program related fees, enrollment expenses, and membership dues. We are continuing to pay all of our staff their salaries and benefits as well as our regular scheduled hourly employees. It is very important to our Board of Directors and the Executive Team that our staff continues to be compensated during this unprecedented time. We promise to share an update on those topics as soon as a responsible and clear decision has been made. We are hopeful that our members will continue to support the JCC in any way possible during this period; in this way, we can ensure that the JCC can take care of our staff and remains prepared to serve the entire community for years to come.

As a part of the JCC community, we are sure that we will all support one another and commit to identifying ways to lift one another up – it is the reason why our community is so special.  We know that in due time, our JCC doors will re-open and we will welcome everyone back to a safe and busy Weinberg Park Heights JCC, Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, Gordon Center for Performing Arts, and Downtown DBJCC.  We are appreciative to The Associated, our sister agencies and our numerous community partners who stand beside us during this time.

Please reach out to us to let us know how we can be of support.  We plan to share an additional update no later than Thursday, March 19.  As difficult as this decision has been, we are most grateful for your support.  Thank you for being a part of the JCC community.

Wishing you and our community the very best,

Randi Buergenthal, Chair of the Board
Barak Hermann, JCC CEO
JCC of Greater Baltimore