West Nyack, NY – Breaking Tradition, Rockland JCC Will Open On Saturdays


    West Nyack, NY – The Jewish Community Center of Rockland has always remained closed from sundown on Friday until sunset on Saturday out of respect for the Jewish tradition of rest on the holy Shabbat.

    But beginning April 1, the JCC will open its fitness center and gym Friday evenings and Saturday, joining a nationwide trend among JCCs to be open to the community seven days a week.

    “The Board sought to balance the expectations and needs of a very diverse Jewish community with our need to run a financially viable and accessible organization that would be around for many years to come,” David Kirschtel, the CEO, and Joel Zbar, president of the board of directors, said in the e-mail.

    The decision came after a lot of soul-searching and debate. The board had twice before — once several years ago and then again a year ago — considered opening on Shabbat, but had voted against it over concerns that it might alienate some observant members.

    This time around, however, after much deliberation, the board agreed that change was needed. It wasn’t clear at this time whether any large donors would withdraw support, said Joshua Krakoff, the chief operating officer of the JCC.

    Though the JCC’s mission is to enrich and preserve Jewish heritage, not all its members are observant Jews, and its membership includes people of all religious denominations, as well as those who are not religious. Many members, especially those who work during the week, would appreciate being able to work out on Friday evening and Saturday.

    Under the new schedule, the Russin Fitness Center and the Eisenkraft Gymnasium will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and until 7 p.m. on Friday. There will be extended evening hours on Saturday from October to April. The JCC closes about 4:30 p.m. or an hour before sundown, depending on the season.

    In addition, baby-sitting will be available, special classes will continue to be held and the children’s gym will be open.

    However, in a nod to Jewish sensibilities, there will be no cash transactions or sales during Shabbat. Vending machines will be closed, no outgoing phone calls will be made or e-mails sent by JCC employees, and a special table will be set up in the lobby with information about Shabbat.

    If members want a spa treatment or a session with a personal trainer, they’ll have to pay in advance. No Jewish staff member will be forced to work during Shabbat.

    Full article at lohud.com

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    1. “No Jewish staff member will be forced to work during Shabbat.” They’re going to force goyim to work on Shabbat? That’ll open up a can of legal worms.

    2. This might have an impact in this way: a non-Jewish boss says to a Jewish employee “You can work on Friday night and Saturday! The JCC where I work out is open!”

    3. I don’t understand why places like this call themselves ‘Jewish.’. Change the name to “Rockland Mechalel Shabbos Community Center” because that’s more fitting .

      • Whats so hard to understand? Cuba, North Korea, Venuzuela, North Viet Nam all are called “the Democratic Republic of….” Cuba and North Korea – Democratic? Likewise the jewish name.

      • I must agree. As I have stated often I am not of the orthodox/observant community but still see this as a total slap in the face of the religion. People are free do as they please but to continue to call this a Jewish Community Center is just pushing the envelope too far….this is an embarrassment to say the least. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.

    4. not everyone is about being shomer shabbos. you self hating bloggers beg for foregiveness to HaShem Yom Kippor for being judgemental and B”N promise not to judge again. YOU ARE YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY, period.

      • I have asked it before and I am asking again now: why is “self-hating” considered the worst possible insult one can use here on VIN?

        In all honesty, I am utterly mystified.

      • not everyone is about being non judgemental. you self hating blogger beg for foregiveness to HaShem Yom Kippor for being judgemental and B”N promise not to judge again. YOU ARE YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY, period

    5. The JCC in the community where I live also has programming on Shabbos; yet, it is closed on Yom Tov. It makes no sense, since a large portion of the members are goyim, and some of them resent not being able to use the JCC facilities on Yom Tov. It makes no sense at all to have such a policy. I remember that there used to be candy machines in a bowling alley at the JCC. It was the gentile manager of the JCC bowling alley, who informed Jewish members that the candy in the machine was not Kosher for Pesach!

    6. I hate to say it, but this represents in part a failure on the part of the frum Jews of Rockland County. We have thousands of frum Jews here, but their example has not been persuasive enough to encourage affiliated but not frum Jews to do a little Sabbath observance. Have you ever noticed that BT’s rarely come from areas where there is a sizable frum Jewish population? Most BT’s at Ohr Somayach are from place around the world where there are very few or no frum Jews. If our public behavior as a group was more inspiring, I guarantee you the JCC would honor Shabbos.

    7. 8. I am sorry to have to teach you something about Yiddishkeit but it IS about being Shomer Shabbos When your ne’emonis is questioned, the question is, “Is he a SHOMER SHABBOS?,” and NOT, “Did he exercise at the ‘Jewish’ center!”

      Its a MAJOR shanda, not to mention a chilul HaShem for this place to call themselves ‘Jewish’ yet be open on shabbos violating d’oraysas left & right.

      If I was a member there and they pulled this off, I would resign my membership in protest. I call on others who care about Torah U’Mitzvos to do just that!

      • you don’t have to teach me anything. am i yes or am i no shomer shabbot is not your concern. worry about yourself and don’t mind my midos. i was stating my opinion on the jcc operation. when you support jcc you can tell them how to operate. again, my opinion. shavua tov

      • Your knowledge (or lack thereof) of the realities of jewish community centers is only exceeded by your frequent postings on matters of hashgacha, which are typically incorrect and off-topic. The majority of their members of non-frum, normal yidden who simply work hard all week and come home to their families in the evening. They want a chance to exercise over the weekends. I’d be happy if they went to shul on shabbos rather than exercising but if the JCC is closed, they’ll simply join Gold’s Gym. Please get a life and stop trying to manage others’ lives. Perhaps you could better spend your time learning somthing about denei kashruth.

    8. No one is forcing anyone to use the JCC facilities on shabbos. I’ve been there several times and don’t recall seeing many in heimeshe lvush working out (although they desparately need to). The board of the JCC made this decision after surveying their members as to their preferences. If yidden want to use the facilities on shabbos or yom tov thats their decision. Don’t impose your midos on other.

    9. Same thing happened here in Baltimore. It is NOT up to the individual to decide about Shabbos. They should be forced to keep Shabbos under penalty of lashes!

      • If your serious, you need help. If you are being sarcastic, you also need nelp. The last time I check, whether or not to be shomer shabbos is a decision each yid must make. We could force yidden like you to make intelligent comments, but we live in a democracy so you can demonsrate your lack of common sense without restraint.

      • That’s not exactly true, and the difference is very significant. The JCC in Park Heights, which is surrounded by frum neighborhoods, is still closed on Shabbos and Yom Tov and maintains segregated fitness center and swimming hours. The JCC which used to close on Shabbos but started opening about a year ago is in Owing Mills which is populated by Jewish goyim, or Jewinos for those who don’t like the other term. Not a single frum person lives in Owing Mills. Both of these JCC locations used to have restaurants with reliable hechsher (Star-K), since Owing Mills started opening on Shabbos, they also replaced their restaurant with the hechsher from which only Jewish goyim would eat. I guess, you cater to your market, right and wrong don’t even enter consideration with them.

    10. The reformers of Judaism are at it once again. They water down halacha with excuses about individual rights then they throw in a few reasons pertaining to, Oh My G-d, NOOOOO, losing money! Next they tell you that we live in different times, we’re not in ghettos any more, we live in America!, etc. etc. You end up with a secular practice called Reform that no longer resembles Judaism but some Reform Guru will call herself “Rabbi”, get married to another woman and tell you that Reform is Judaism. As a matter of fact, Reform is not Judaism.

    11. Most of the frum people in Rockland County go to the Lifeplex on Route 59. The people who go to the JCC are primarily conservative, reform, non-affiliated or non-Jewish. Several years ago, the JCC moved from a location on Route 45 more convenient to the frum community to a location in West Nyack that is several miles from any frum community. Hate to say it, but they are playing to their constituency. All that being said, I agree that it should not be open on Shabbos or Yom Tov (and I would have felt the same way even before I became observant).


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