Local community center adapts cultural programs during COVID-19

Local News

Their virtual Newman Levy speaker series covers a range of topics, from sports to humanitarian aid

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Jewish Community Center embraced the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and took the opportunity to connect with a larger community than ever.

Program Director Gon Erez of the Jewish Community Center said they are virtually hosting continuing cultural programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Newman Levy speaker series began three years ago and covers a wide range of topics each month, from sports to Tikkun Olam, which means repairing the world.

Over the past year, the JCC has had to switch to a virtual format because of COVID-19.

“Now everything is on Zoom; you just log in, people are watching from home, it makes life a little easier but then again, you lose a big chunk of the mission that we’re here for,” Erez said.

Erez said older members of the JCC have faced challenges using Zoom, but the group is continuing to adapt.

This speaker series isn’t the only cultural program that the JCC moved to a virtual format. They also offer creativity classes, virtual cooking lessons and tours of Israel online.

Erez explained one silver lining to moving virtual. Although scheduling virtual events can be challenging, he said, it brought the community together with other centers.

Sunday’s speaker is also being shared with centers in Memphis, Houston and England.

“One of my missions here is to teach about the Jewish life, about Israel, to educate the people, the Jewish community and the broader community, our JCC members and the high school students in the town,” he said. “So having the opportunity to bring this to other communities, someone that I personally found myself, it’s double power as they say.”

Lt. Col. (Res.) Eyal Dror will be discussing his work within a unit of the Israel Defense Forces that provided humanitarian aid to Syrians Jan. 31 at noon. Dror worked with the Good Neighbor Directorate, assisting Syrian citizens victimized by the civil war.

To register for the Newman Levy speaker series, visit the JCC’s website.

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