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Friedberg JCC in Oceanside holds virtual programs, aches to re-open


Routines can be important — and many locals depend on the Barry & Florence Friedberg Jewish Community Center in Oceanside for their regular exercise and socialization.

Those normal routines have been shattered since coronavirus swept New York more than two months ago now. Aside from a daycare program for children of frontline workers, the JCC is still closed to the public.

“We’re the home away from home for people,” said Roni Kleinman, executive director of the JCC. “People wake up in the morning to come here.”

While its doors are physically shut for now, the JCC staff is still working to provide the community with virtual programs to keep active and connected. Each week, the JCC releases a schedule with dozens of activities, usually held via Zoom video conferencing.

The JCC offers online fitness classes, such as Zumba, yoga and cardio, discussion groups for adults and social services for those with special needs and disabilities. It also holds special online events; on June 2, the JCC is hosting a “sip and paint” painting workshop event via Zoom.

“The staff here is unbelievable,” she added. “They’re creatively thinking out of the box and doing everything they can possibly think of and reaching out to members for input.”

In addition to its virtual support groups, Kleinman said the JCC is also working on partnering with social workers for one-on-one virtual therapy sessions. Participation in some services require a JCC membership. The weekly schedule is posted at friedbergjcc.org/virtual-jcc.

“It's important for people to have an outlet and a connection,” Kleinman said. “This has really taken a toll on people, from oldest to youngest, so it’s nice for them to see familiar faces and have a routine.

Since late March, the JCC in Oceanside has offered daycare for children of essential workers.

Also, the JCC’s early childhood program has its own programming, keeping its students engaged while they remain at home. Children are also meeting via video conferencing with their teachers.

Meanwhile, Kleinman is eager for the JCC to be up and running again in the future. Without membership fees, JCC has “taken a significant hit,” she said, losing a portion of its funding. The JCC is asking for monetary donations online to help stay afloat.

“We’re waiting for the governor’s word,” Kleinman said. “As soon as he tells us to go, we’ll be here. It’s not going to be the same as it was three months ago, but we’re preparing for it.”

The JCC is in the process of procuring sanitizers, masks, cleaning equipment and signs with special public health directives for patrons for when the facility eventually re-opens.