JCC Women Adapt to Covid With Zoom


Zoom meetings transformed the way millions of people communicated during the coronavirus pandemic, and the Ocean-side JCC Zoom is still connecting members who wish to enjoy one another’s company virtually.

Members of the Barry & Florence Friedberg Jewish Community Center have met in person for months, but the JCC’s Women’s Talk group still follows a hybrid meeting model, allowing certain group members join in discussions by Zoom.

The women’s group has met at the JCC for nine years, giving older women in the community a time to socialize and share engaging discussions in a morning talk.

Lisa Charschan, the JCC’s director of adult services, said the Zoom meetings are invaluable for connecting members, particularly those who are unable to leave their homes during the pandemic.

“It’s a sweet group, and what I love about it is that they’ve been consistently meeting, and they form these friendships that they didn’t have before,” Charschan said. “They talk about women’s issues and current event topics, and the beautiful thing about it is that since Covid started, they were meeting on Zoom right away . . .People who are still at home can Zoom in and join the discussion so nobody is really left home alone.

“They feel a part of things if the weather is bad if they’re not feeling like going out,” she continued. “The snowbirds who go down to Florida can now Zoom in and talk as well. So we’re really not losing membership because they are still being active without physically coming into the building.”

The discussion for the week fit the holiday theme as the group engaged in a conversation on gratitude. Many group members expressed gratitude for their mothers and fathers. They also discussed acts of kindness that were performed by strangers and fashion trends for adults ages 50 to 70. And the group delved into the details of the Kyle Rittenhouse case.

Gerri Schaffer has served as the group’s moderator for the last nine years. “We have been meeting since 2014, and I develop questions based on all different types of topics, except politics,” Schaffer said. “We have a separate political group that meets on another day. We go for an hour, and we agree to disagree, but Zoom is one positive thing that came out of Covid.”

Different members have come and gone throughout the group’s weekly meetings. Mitzie Berger spoke about how the group has influended her life positively. “We have fun here,” Berger said. “My husband died 20 years ago, and I was looking for a place to go, and my friend recommended I come here, and I love it and I can’t live without it.

“During the pandemic,” Berger said, “they were gracious enough to supply the Zoom for us, and then it turned into going back to the classes now, and we even had one member Zoom in while she was in Israel.”

Berger continued on the positives of the discussion group and the JCC, noting, “I always say that the best place to meet someone is to come here. The JCC is a place to make new friends. I’m 88 years old, and they gave me a place to live and be a part of.”