COVID-19 Response

March 27, 2020 – Statement from Jill Madsen, CEO

The past month has been like no other in my over 20 years of community work, as we have entered completely uncharted territory with absolutely no compass.

Because of YOU, We’re Still Doing Good in Our Community

I have been awestruck by the ways our team has adapted to our new reality and continues to bring our Triangle community a rich array of programs and services during this challenging time.

  • Check-in calls are made twice weekly to dozens of isolated older adults to ensure they continue to receive much needed social touch points. The staff and volunteers who lead this charge are committed to giving these folks all the time and attention they need, encouraging a sense of community and belonging.
  • We have provided more than 30 bags of food to families in need in Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties each week, which includes fresh produce and hygiene products. That number and need continue to grow.
  • We created a “drive-through” at the J for weekly challah to assist in that needed sweetness as we bring in Shabbat while still social distancing! Now, folks can buy challah to donate to our Food Pantry.
  • Our social workers have moved counseling and case management services to a virtual platform and have provided services for over 40 individuals in need, just in the last few days.
  • And we’ve hosted countless programs on Facebook and via Zoom. Some highlights include…
    • First annual Jewish Authors Book Festival where 15 incredible Jewish authors, scholars, and filmmakers from around the country spoke about their work and art to over 100 people in the Triangle. Because we were able to pivot to an online platform, folks from all around the country were also able to join us!
    • Daily tips and food and fitness guidance from our Healthy Living department encouraged dozens of people in their own self care.
    • Multiple Group Ex classes were streamed live each day for people to move to, with an average of 82 people in each one, connecting, laughing, and engaging with one another.
    • Countless activities for elementary school-aged kids provided engagement, nurturing, and calm in this chaotic time. Nature Exploration and Virtual Scavenger Hunts with Mary, Theater and Show & Tell with Jack, Chocolate Chip Cookie Master Class with Jill, an amazing interactive Sports Sesh with Coach Mikko, and Storytime & Tot Shabbat with Amy and Madeline (and Kol and Azalea!)–all online-–with as many as 45 families participating in each.
  • And, because of those who continue to pay their membership dues and donate to our Annual Campaign, we’re able to continue to compensate all our employees so that financial insecurity need not weigh on our professional family in this time.

This work will not only continue, but will grow and evolve as our community’s needs require. Additionally, our staff is working hard to make our recorded programs and services available on our website so all can partake. Furthermore, many of our staff members are working behind the scenes to make lemonade out of lemons to ensure our building, programs, and services are even better for all of you the moment we are able to reopen!

Extended Closure, Membership Dues, and How You Can Help

Between Executive Order 117 and Durham’s latest Shelter-in-Place order, we will remain closed through April with the possibility of this extending. Additionally, based on the CDC’s recommendations to limit large gatherings of 50 or more people through May, assuming we are able to open in May, it will be with an adjusted schedule and programming plan. While the building will remain closed for the month of April, we are committed to offering as many programs and services as we can remotely, virtually, and while honoring social distancing.

We know this extended closure raises questions specifically for our Fitness Members. As noted, even as our building is closed we continue to serve the community, engage our members, and deliver a unique experience for all. That said, Fitness Members will have three options for their membership dues payment effective April 1st, 2020:

  1. Continue to support the critical work, inclusive mission, and professional staff of the JCC through your ongoing membership.
  2. Freeze your membership starting April 1st at no cost and activate your membership without penalty upon the building’s reopening.
  3. Cancel your membership, with 30 days’ notice required, and incur any applicable rejoining fees upon re-enrollment.

We understand that this decision comes down to more than just what you want to do, but rather what you need to do in this uncertain time. As always, we respect and support all our members, and thank those who are willing and able to support the community through their membership dues.

Should you need to freeze or cancel your membership, our Membership Director Rebecca Van Wagner is standing by to accommodate you. Your request to freeze or cancel must be received by Friday, April 3, 2020. If we don’t hear from you, we will assume you have elected to continue your dues. 

You have told us, in your voices and actions, that being a member of the JCC is more than access to a building. We believe that membership is about the connection to one another, a shared vision for the future, and an investment in the values we share and our community. During this interruption, we have worked tirelessly to better understand the financial implications of our community’s response to COVID-19. We recognize this is a challenging time, complicated by the pace of change and new information, while balancing the needs of a community and service to our mission.

Our staff is ready to field any questions, comments, or concerns you may have, but please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Thank you for your efforts to keep our community safe, and please be well.

Wishing you good health and looking forward to seeing you all again,


Jill Madsen, CEO

Have questions about your membership dues during this pandemic?

Right now, as so much about the COVID-19 pandemic is in flux, our staff is working hard to implement plans that are fair and realistic, though, like the pandemic, they’re ever-changing. We hope to know more and be ready to communicate those accommodations soon. For now, we thank you for your patience. Please know that…

  • The Levin JCC is a non-profit organization.
  • Your membership dues continue to go to compensating all our staff, many of whom are still working behind the scenes, fulfilling our organization’s mission. We are continuing to pay both our hourly and salaried staff at every level.
  • As always, your dues also go to support the J’s initiatives to address food insecurity and financial loss in our Triangle community during this pandemic. As you read this, we are delivering groceries to those in need, supporting those who have been hit hardest in our community, and keeping people connected to one another as folks feel more isolated than ever.
  • We continue to innovate ways to deliver fitness, personal training, and healthy living guidance in our Facebook Group for Healthy Living at the J.
  • Similarly, programming for kids, teens, and adults will continue, all in online platforms! Visit us in those FB Groups, too: Programming for Kids, Teens and Families and Programming for Adults
  • It takes a lot to run a building like the JCC, including the amazing local small business owners and service providers who maintain and clean the facilities. As our building is usually only closed for a couple days out of the year, we’re taking advantage of this time and doing a major deep-clean of the entire facilities and, in so doing, continue to pay all the service providers during this pandemic. The facilities will be spic and span when we return!

Again, we thank you for your patience. Please hang tight until we’re able to tell you more.

Statement from CEO, Jill Madsen
Updated, as of March 13, 2020, 10am

The Levin JCC is committed to the safety, health, and well-being of our members, guests, and staff. We are always vigilant with our protocol and the measures that we take to minimize the transmission of infectious disease here at the J and throughout the community.

In just the last 24 hours, we’ve continued to stay informed and updated as to how to best serve and protect our community. We understand that it takes a village to keep everybody safe. With schools closing, and the great effort and thought that must have gone into that decision, we will also do our part to flatten the curve and stymie the spread of this pandemic. Based on this, and CDC’s and state and local health agencies’ recommendations to encourage social distancing, the Levin JCC will close today, Friday, March 13, 2020, at 6pm. We hope to reopen on Monday, March 30, 2020, at 5:30am, but will amend this goal as needed. In the interim, we are canceling all in-person programs at the J and are moving some of our programs to online streaming platforms.
While the building will be closed, we are still committed to fulfilling our mission: We serve as a vibrant hub where everyone belongs, nourishing the roots of local Jewish life. We provide opportunities that deepen connections, knowledge and relations to Israel; services for helping those in need; programs that foster healthy living; and pathways for charitable giving. While the doors will not be open to the community, these core tenets will still be provided.
See our mission in action:
Helping Those In Need
  • Staff and volunteers will virtually visit isolated older adults who usually have face-to-face visitors.
  • Food Pantry and Fresh Produce will still be provided to those clients we serve. Additionally, with school closures, families with school-aged children will receive weekly bags instead of the usual monthly. More information on how to be added to this food pantry recipient list is coming.
  • Special Passover packages will be delivered to our seniors to use and enjoy through their virtual Chaverim program.
  • Case Management services will be provided over the phone.
Opportunities to Engage
  • Fridays’ Storytime and Tot Shabbat will be streamed via FB Live.
  • Be on the lookout for virtual enrichment pop-ups from our fabulous staff providing creative things for our school-aged children to do at home.
  • Our Jewish Author’s Book Festival will be live streamed for folks to enjoy for free from their homes.
  • Upcoming Men’s and Women’s Groups will be streamed via FB Live.
Inspiring Healthy Living
  • Start each morning with a tip from Pam, Director of Healthy Living, on FB Live.
  • Watch for the schedule of your favorite classes and instructors hosted remotely via FB Live with creative ideas of using household items to continue your routines.
Over the next 72 hours our staff will be working on finalizing all of these logistics. Be on the lookout early next week for all of the details on how you can support and participate in various ways.


Update as of March 12, 2020

As we continue to learn from the CDC more about the best precautionary steps to take, we continue to add to these measures, specifically considering the size and scope of our programs and the age and health of our participants. To that end we are adjusting some of our programs and services.

Adjustments to Programs and Services
The most up-to-date location for all programs and cancelations is our website calendar.

We know for many people, especially children and families and isolated older adults, the J is a place of community, socialization, and respite; thus all building closures or program adjustments are weighed seriously and with an awareness of and sensitivity to the most vulnerable among us. However, ensuring our entire community’s health and safety is just as important. Based on this CDC-advised rationale, we feel it is prudent to make the following adjustments at this time:

Storytime & Tot Shabbat: Starting on March 20th, Storytime and Tot Shabbat will be live streamed via FB Live instead of hosted in person at the J. We hope to resume in person in mid-April. To join the FB Group where the live streams will happen, click here and request to join.

Large events with 50+ attendees like Passover Palooza on March 15th, Ignite: The Courage to Lead with Kara Medoff on March 27th; Clergy Conference on April 6th; and the Aging and Thriving Conference on March 29th will be cancelled and, hopefully, rescheduled for late spring or early fall.

Jewish Authors Book Festival, in partnership with Beth El Synagogue, will be live streamed instead of in person. Many more innovative details about this event will be communicated soon.

Men’s and Women’s Groups on March 20th will be cancelled. We are working to make possible a live streaming option for a joint group on April 3rd. Stay tuned.

Memory programs including Memory ClubMemory Makers, and Musical Memories have been cancelled until further notice. We are working to reschedule sessions later in spring. In addition, we will also be providing participants materials to be used at home during this hiatus.

Chaverim Seder will be canceled. Our staff and Rabbi Greyber are exploring options to live stream and/or record the seder. Special Passover bags and holiday outreach will be coordinated by JFS for participants.

We are no longer cooling and packaging our baked goods in the atrium, to limit exposure to any airborne illnesses. Now, only one staff person is in charge of all the food packaging, which takes place in a separate, sanitized room. We will keep baking challah and babka for the foreseeable future.

The Fitness Center is pausing spa water. Please bring your own full water bottle to the gym. Drinking fountains can be found in the hallway and water bottles are for sale at the J Cafe. Additionally, we have put all locker keys in the lockers themselves to decrease touchpoint.

The J Cafe is pausing fills and refills of personal travel cups and mugs and only serving drinks in our single-use to go cups.

More information will come soon with directions on how to participate remotely in our programs. At this time, all other programs and services will remain as is. Should additional changes be made, we will communicate right away.

If you’ve been in our building recently, you’ll notice the specific steps that we are taking in our ongoing effort to prevent the spread of illness within our community:

Highest Quality Antiviral Cleaning Agents

Our cleaning personnel has transitioned to use the highest level antiviral cleaning agents to properly disinfect the entire facility on a daily basis. We always use high quality products to keep our facilities sanitized and clean; the new products we’re using kills the COVID-19 virus much more quickly, so we can more effectively and efficiently sanitize the facilities throughout the day.

Thorough and More Frequent Sanitation of Facilities

Our staff is being reminded and retrained on procedures for sanitizing toys in the Childcare and Kids’ Club rooms, equipment in the fitness center, as well as high-use surfaces and equipment/supplies throughout the facility.

Proper Hand Washing Instructions in All Bathrooms

We have included in every bathroom directions for thorough, virus-killing hand washing practices. That graphic, designed to be easily understood by the people of all ages that frequent the J, is below. Thorough hand washing will be one of the most impactful ways everybody can aid in our public health and hygiene efforts.

Continued Vigilance and Transparent Communication

We continue to monitor the situation in North Carolina and the Triangle area and will maintain our commitment and diligent efforts to mitigate exposure to and transmission of any and all infectious diseases within the J community, including but not limited to influenza, norovirus, COVID-19, and the common cold.

Business as Usual, with Extra Cleaning and Awareness!

Though we have a response plan should the situation worsen, our business operations will proceed as usual, with the above precautionary measures in place. For many people, especially children and families and isolated older adults, the J is a place of community, socialization, and respite; all building closures are weighed seriously and with an awareness of and sensitivity to the most vulnerable among us.

How Can You Help?

We ask that everybody be mindful of our whole community by practicing good hand washing technique, covering your mouth and nose during coughing/sneezing, properly disposing of used tissue in designated trash cans, and staying home if you or your close family members are sick. In addition to COVID-19, influenza, norovirus, and even the common cold are easily spread and, at best, uncomfortable, but, at worst, dangerous.

Our staff is ready to field any questions, comments, or concerns you may have, but please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Thank you for your efforts to keep our community safe, and please be well.