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

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    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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