St. Louis Jewish Community Center President and CEO Lynn Wittels announced Monday night that the J would shut down at 6 p.m. Tuesday and remain closed until at least April 3 because of concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.
She explained that she wanted to give parents and caretakers 24 hours to make other arrangements for children enrolled in the J’s daycare center as well as people in its adult daycare.
“Most people erroneously think of the J as only a fitness center,” she said. “And while that is a part of what we do, we serve a lot of community needs with our programming. We wanted to continue that for as long as we could.”
She noted that while childcare centers in Missouri were not required to shut down, the J closed its daycare facility “out of a sense of civic responsibility.” She added that many of the J’s cultural and outreach offerings, such as the New Jewish Theatre and Jewish Film Festival, have postponed their upcoming events, though she hoped the Meals on Wheels delivery program would be able to continue without interruption.
She also hoped that J members would be willing to donate their membership fees, which would go toward paying J employees. “We are committed to paying our staff at least through the April 3 date,” she said, adding that members also have the option to “freeze” their membership at no charge. And to exercise buffs concerned about missing their daily workouts, Wittels said J staffers were exploring how to offer online fitness classes to their members.
Similarly, Jewish Federation of St. Louis "has decided to make prudent alterations to our normal activities with the best interests of the community, our volunteers and our staff in mind,” Brian Herstig, president and CEO of Federation said in a statement. “While the Kaplan Feldman Complex will remain open, we are postponing all public Federation events at least through March 31.”