As I write this message, our city is collectively absorbing the seriousness of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. The NBA has suspended its season, Broadway is dark, museums are temporarily shuttering, and the Archdiocese of New York has closed school for all children within its network. Those with underlying health conditions or who belong to groups at higher risk for illness are understandably feeling anxious. Even laissez-faire “seen-it-all” New Yorkers are facing the reality that our daily routines will be interrupted for some time. Collectively, we are mentally preparing for the reality of social distancing – which is surely the opposite of what it means to be a New Yorker.
It feels as though the world has turned upside down.
In light of this, we have made the difficult decision to suspend Manny Cantor Center programming until further notice. Our entire center will close at 6pm this evening, in order to do a thorough and deep hospital-grade sanitizing of our building, and to protect the health and safety of our members. We will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in our area, as the safety and health of the MCC community is our top priority.
Despite our closure, we will continue to do our part to help this small corner of this world to (hopefully) feel a bit more “right-side up.” Though we are suspending day-to-day activities, we plan to continue to provide program content via digital channels through our MCC Goes Virtual initiative. Please be on the lookout for communications from MCC staff about program-specific digital engagements. Visit our website as well in the coming days for a schedule of online classes, activities, and community building opportunities. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay connected.
We are committed to continuing our work of creating community here on the Lower East Side, in good times and in harder times, in person and virtually.
Earlier this week, Jewish communities around the world celebrated Purim, a holiday dedicated to the ways that human beings can survive and even thrive when the world makes no sense. To make a long story short, the Purim story is the tale of a clueless, narcissistic king who can think only of himself, a racist villain who plans for the destruction of an entire people — and the two ordinary folks, Mordechai and Esther, who save the day. By the story’s end, the king has been schooled on what is right, the villain has been quashed, and the hero and heroine are celebrated for their triumph.
When the world feels upside down, it is our own efforts and our connections to each other that will right it. Over these next weeks, I look forward to all of us at MCC making this happen together. Together, we will make the world right-side up.
Rabbi Joanna Samuels
Manny Cantor Center