Important COVID-19 Updates

Published Wednesday, June 10, 2020




Pirke Avot, one of our essential Jewish ethical texts, teaches: nothing is more important than community. Below you'll find the latest communications about how our JCC is responding to the COVID-19 crisis. 

You'll also want to experience our virtual J Network, a burgeoning collection of JCC videos, articles, links and resources. There is something new online every day.


COVID-19 Re-opening Communications


Friday, September 11: YAY! California

With COVID-19 cases continuing to decline in Orange County, we are excited to announce indoor fitness options are back at the J!

Here's what is happening at the J:
This Sunday we re-open our indoor Fitness Center.
  • You’ll be able to enjoy both indoor and outdoor fitness experiences
  • Keeping our community safe, please note indoors fitness machines are distanced and there is limited capacity
Our basketball courts open Sunday as well.
  • One hoop per person or family
  • Bring your own ball
Pickleball starts Monday, Sept 14, and is open Mon-Fri from 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
Youth Basketball is also returning Oct 18, K-8. Click here for details.
Extended Hours
Starting Monday, Sept 14
Mon-Thu 5:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
Fri 5:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sat-Sun 7:45 a.m.-6 p.m.
Members should continue to use the fitness entry at the far end of the parking lot.
We are excited to see you at the J!
Monday, July 13: We Are Making It Work

 Today Governor Newsom announced that most indoor businesses, including fitness centers, in California are again closing due to COVID-19.

We’re Making it Work
We are moving our most popular fitness equipment outside to allow our Fitness Center to remain OPEN with outdoor operations. We are incredibly lucky to live in So Cal, where an outdoor workout is a pleasure, and our Merage JCC has plenty of gorgeous outdoor space to utilize.
With safety modifications, things will look different, but you’ll still be able to get in a great workout. We are moving fast on this, and each day there will be new improvements. Please be patient as we move our operation outdoors. Here is what we have planned:
  • Installing additional tents outside of the Gym and large tents on the outdoor field allowing for safe, UV-protected workouts
  • Moving cardio equipment, free weights, and strength equipment outside under the tents
  • Providing shuttles to get you from our temporary entrance to our new spaces
  • Continuing outdoor fitness classes, including FITCORE, Sunrise Yoga and Spin
Hours of operation for outdoor fitness and the pool:
Monday-Friday       5:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday   7:45 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Note that Camp Haverim, Camp Yeladim, Aronoff Preschool and our pool remain OPEN as normal.
Thank you for being our partner as we navigate these constantly changing waters. Stay tuned for more updates.
Friday, June 12: Keeping our kids healthy at Camp Haverim

 We've eagerly awaited the opportunity to once again open the J's doors. This week we opened camp to amazing smiles, fun, and memories.

Next week we open up our aquatics and fitness departments.

As always the health and safety of our children, members, and staff are always our top priority. We've heard a few concerns, below are just some of the guidelines that keep our campers healthy and safe.

Keeping our campers safe and healthy:

  • Separate entrances and exits -- NO members or adults will use camper entrances
  • Members coming to the J to access aquatics and fitness will be directed to a new entrance at the end of the parking lot on the other side of the preschool -- throughout the summer member access to the J will be limited to the aquatics and the fitness areas. There is no access to Main Street, the theater, courtyard, or any rooms where campers are having their fun
  • Protocols and barriers are in place separating campers' entrances, hallways, bathrooms -- members and campers do not share spaces
  • Lifeguards and camp staff will ensure campers maintan unique space at the pool
  • While fitness and aquatics are open to our members -- all other adult cultural, educational and social programming remains virtual through the summer

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at any time!

Audra Martin
Director of Children Programs and Camp Haverim

Friday, June 12: Your Safety & Health #1

As you may have already heard, we are reopening our doors on Monday, June 15. This is the news that we have been waiting for and look forward to seeing you in the gym and at the pool.

With reopening comes several new policies and procedures. 

  • Wear masks unless vigorously working out.
  • Bring your own towel and water bottle
  • Arrive ready to work out or swim--no locker room access.
  • Bring your Merage JCC badge to check in
  • Wipe down equipment

Also, we will still be offering online classes and programs that will keep your mind and body fit.

See you soon at the J, ON-DEMAND or on ZOOM.


Thursday, June 11:  See you Monday!


We have been given permission by the County to reopen our doors. We have spent the last several weeks reviewing and implementing the new safety guidelines set forth by the CDC, State, and County. Our staff has been trained, and after a deep cleaning by a specialized company this weekend, we are ready to safely welcome you back to the J on Monday, June 15!

Please watch this video to better understand some of our new policies and procedures and some new guidelines that will ensure a seamless transition back into our facility. As you will see in the video, there will be a new entrance and additional fitness space so that we can maintain our FULL capacity. Also, we have included our new hours and a quick listing of what we are doing and what we need you, our members, to do!

We look forward to seeing you on Monday at the J.

Scott Braswell
Executive Director 


Thursday, June 4: We're Ready

From 2004, when our facility opened its doors, we made the commitment to serve the community with excellence surrounded by Jewish values. Every day we live the values of tikkun olam, repairing the world, kavod, respect, chesed, loving kindness, and kehillah, community. While these last few weeks have been filled with change, our commitment to our values and to you have not, and will not waver. 

What’s happening at the J
Each day we are in contact with local and county authorities about reopening timelines and procedures. We appreciate the measured approach California is taking to keep us safe. We eagerly anticipate the day when we welcome you, our members, back to our J.

It really can't be said enough— the health and safety of our staff and members is always our top priority and the COVID-19 pandemic has us raising our demanding standards even higher. You’ll note differences at the J:

  • conducting health screenings for our members and employees, per CDC guidelines anyone with a temperature greater than 100.4 will not be permitted to enter the building;
  • requiring face coverings for employees and members
  • taking steps to allow for social distancing, including utilizing different entrances into the facility
  • increasing cleaning and sanitization on a constant basis

Children’s Programming

  • Under stringent guidelines, Camp Haverim is opening in just days, June 8, and Aronoff Preschool is right behind them, opening June 15
  • Live basketball, performing arts, storytime classes and more are offered online on our website


  • We, too, are hearing that some pools have opened. Unfortuantely, it is our understanding that these pools are doing so illegally. We are in touch with the City of Irvine daily and will open our pool as soon as we are allowed to do so
  • Fitness centers are in Stage 3 of California’s Resilience Roadmap. We expect Governor Newsom to announce the guidelines for fitness centers to reopen soon and we are preparing to hopefully open fitness later this month or early in July
  • While we expect to open our fitness doors soon, we continue to provide you with over 20 live virtual group exercise classes each week, and a robust On-Demand library - all can be found on our JNetwork on our site

General Programming

We are excited to share many virtual programs with you including:

  • exciting cooking classes with Chef Liron, guest Chef Zov from Zov’s Bistro and cooking challenges
  • a unique one-of-a-kind opportunity with Jessie Eisenberg sharing his new feature film, “Resistance”
  • affinity groups to connect, including: Coffee Talk, Women’s Connection, Men’s Club, and News & Views
  • virtual games with poker, Canasta, and Mah Jongg
  • the very popular historian Don Schwartz brings back his Hamilton series

Make sure to visit our virtual JNetwork, follow us on Facebook at MerageJCC to stay in the know on upcoming programs.

We look forward to seeing you online and very soon at the J!


 Friday May 22: JCamps getting ready to open

First and foremost, we are committed to the health of our members, staff and community and continue to adhere to the health experts with the state of California and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). With their direction we are implementing a phased re-opening.

In addition to CDC health guidelines, we are implementing extra precautions to help our community stay safe and healthy. This includes extensive cleaning protocols and social distancing practices within our camps, classes, programs, and facility areas.

Camp Haverim will open June 8 and Camp Yeladim on June 15, both with limited spaces. Like you, we wait eagerly to hear from the health experts when we can open fitness, aquatics and other programming.

We expect it will not be long before we open up programming and welcome you back to the JCC!

 Thursday, May 14: Camp Haverim Update

Dear Camp Haverim Families,

I still find it challenging to grasp how quickly our lives have changed over the last few months.  We miss you here at the JCC and Camp Haverim. We are busy preparing to open and begin summer camp with all regulations and guidelines set by the state of California and the Centers for Disease Control.  We know things will operate differently. We also know that we’ll continue to be a place where our entire community can grow in spirit, mind, and body.

Our greatest priority has always been protecting the health and safety of all who attend and operate Camp Haverim.  In light of COVID-19, however, we are implementing additional protocols and procedures based on the latest recommendations of the CDC, the State of California Department of Human Services, and the American Camp Association.  We are retraining our staff teams and stocking our shelves with needed supplies.  This email serves as a first glimpse into what you can expect to see when Camp Haverim begins.

We plan to open Camp Haverim as scheduled on June 8th.  Camp will undoubtedly look different when we are permitted to open. Our talented team has been hard at work, creating a safe experience within the new parameters. We will ensure that all campers safely enjoy exciting adventures, begin new friendships, and can have another memorable summer.

Upon our opening, all campers and staff will be screened prior to the start of each day to ensure they are healthy.  Anyone exhibiting a fever or other symptoms of illness will not be permitted to attend camp programs.  Visitors will need special approval to be onsite.  More frequent hand washing breaks and stations will be made available, and enhanced disinfecting procedures are being implemented. 

This year, parents and guardians will remain in their cars during camp drop- off and pick up, with our staff accompanying campers safely to and from designated locations.  Camper groups will be smaller than in previous years, and activities, where staff and children are spaced further apart, will be employed.  Physical distancing will be in effect. Staff face masks will be required, as mandated by Orange County and the State of California. Plexiglass shields are being installed at our camp desk for everyone’s safety.  We have also adjusted our air-handling units to ensure an even higher turnover of fresh air into our facility. We are confident that while different, it will still be an awesome experience for all our campers this summer!

We will be contacting families who have already registered for camp to discuss their enrollment and plans for the summer beginning next week (week of May 18th).  If you are interested in registering for Camp Haverim, please contact the camp office at 949-435-3400 ext 268, or at for more information, and we will be in contact with you shortly.

We thank you all for our patience as we continue to monitor the situation, and prepare to open Camp Haverim for Summer 2020.  Your continued support of the JCC and Camp Haverim is appreciated.

We look forward to another memorable summer at Camp Haverim!

In Good Health,


Audra Martin
Camp Haverim Director


COVID-19 Precautions and Closure


Thursday, April 9: JCC remains closed


Carefully adhering to State of California and CDC public health recommendations, the temporary closure of our JCC has been extended. We look forward to welcoming you back to the JCC just as soon as health experts tell us it is safe to do so. In the meantime, stay connected with us at our J Network


Friday, March 27: Closure extended
Dear Friends,
Just a few short weeks ago, this new reality was unimaginable. Our Merage JCC is empty and eerily quiet. 
While our doors are shut – we are still hard at work in an effort to continue to provide our members with the excellent programming you expect from our JCC.
J Network
We’ve gone digital and launched J Network, with a collection of JCC videos, workouts, cooking and camp challenges, articles, links and resources. There is something new online every day. Experience one of your favorite speakers on video; live cooking, virtual camp, kids science experiments, basketball and trivia challenges; dozens of workout videos for all ages and stages; and more.
Building Opening
We are committed to opening our doors as soon as it is viable. Nevertheless, we will wait until public health authorities advise us that it is safe to do so. Our staff will pick right up where we left off: providing excellent programs, bringing the community together. 
As a nonprofit organization, our ability to re-open our doors, sustain our amazing staff and plan for the future is 100% dependent upon our community staying by our side.We respectfully ask you to consider paying your monthly dues if you are financially capable at this time.
Membership Freeze
Given the crisis and closure, if you do not wish for us to charge your card, we will temporarily suspend your membership before the next billing cycle, tentatively resuming your membership July 1. If circumstances change and we open earlier, we will be in touch and resume membership accordingly. Click here to request a freeze.
Thank you
Thank you to our wonderful community and Board members for all the support we’ve received. As Pirke Avot, one of our essential Jewish ethical texts, teaches us nothing is more important than community. We will continue to explore every opportunity to keep us all connected and healthy.
We have a team on standby to help you access our programs. Email if you need help with Facebook or Zoom. In addition, we are reaching out to our members, making sure they are o.k. and offering support – grocery pick-ups and kind words. If you know a member we should be in touch with, please let us know at
Friday, March 27: We've gone virtual
Join us for fitness classes, online learning experiences, activities and valuable resources and links.


Sunday, March 15: Temporarily closed

The Merage JCC is CLOSED  


Aronoff Preschool, PrimeTime and cultural arts, Spring Break programs, fitness and wellness classes, and all other activities are closed and cancelled for the next two weeks.

Thank you to our members and community for your patience and trust as we work together through these unchartered waters. You have the Merage JCC’s unwavering commitment to do all we can to help you and your children. We remain optimistic that this situation will change and we’ll move on together – in the not too distance future.

Thank you to our JCC staff who are working tirelessly to support our members and community. 


Sunday, March 15: Closure through March 29
Dear JCC Members and Friends,
As the situation with COVID-19 continues to change rapidly, we must be part of the solution and not part of the problem. The most important thing we can do is to work together to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
After consulting with our medical committee, we have made the difficult decision to close the Merage JCC effective at 6 p.m. today, March 15 through March 29 While we do not have any reported cases of individuals within the Merage JCC community who have tested positive for COVID -19, we are listening to health experts who are urging a dramatic reduction in activity.
We are so proud of the community we have built and realize that this decision can lead to many in our community feeling isolated. Please respond to this email if you would like us to reach out to you personally by phone, as we want to make sure everyone in our community feels supported. Our staff is currently mobilizing to create virtual opportunities to engage our membership from group fitness classes live on Facebook to cooking demonstrations on our Youtube channel and other virtual experiences that will engage our entire community. Stay tuned over the next few days and make sure you check out our web page for constant updates.
To our JCC Members and enrolled program participants: please know that we take seriously the investment you make in your and your family's JCC participation. We will communicate directly with you as soon as we are able regarding credits or payments of postponed/canceled programs. As our staff is occupied prioritizing health and safety and reorganizing certain operations, your patience is appreciated.
Many of our staff members will be working remotely during this time, but everyone here remains committed to building our incredible community. Please join us in continuing to thank them as we are a stronger community because of their commitment and dedication.
We will continue to provide regular updates, and we hope to see you all in a few short weeks back here at the Merage JCC. Please continue to follow the advice of experts and do everything you can to stay healthy and ensure the health of those around you.
Be well, 
Scott Braswell                    Irv Chase
Executive Director              Chair of the Board
Friday, March 13: Postponing March and April events

Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that gatherings of more than 250 or gatherings that do not allow social distancing of six feet per person should be postponed.

The Merage JCC understands that for you, our families, we serve a critical need in caring for your children and offering a place to continue to exercise during this stressful time. In consultation with our board, medical committee, the CDC, OC Health Care Agency, and the CDPH we will continue to evaluate our operations daily. We commit to keeping you up-to-date if we should have to adjust our operations in the future.  

Due to the Governor and CDPH directive, we are postponing, for the remainder of March through April, the following events:

Preschool events including Grandparents Day & All School Shabbats

PrimeTime Adult classes, lectures, and events including Great Jewish Americans, Mah Jongg, and Gentle Yoga

Cultural Arts and Center For Jewish Life events including the Israeli Film Series and our Reflection Series (Yom Hashoah, Yom Ha'atzmaut)

The Celebration Ball, originally scheduled for May 17, has been postponed until the fall. A new date will be announced soon.

For an up to date listing of the programs that have been postponed please see our special COVID-19 page on our website.

We want to reassure all of you that we have a COVID -19 response plan, that we will continue to follow as this situation continues to evolve rapidly. This plan was developed with our medical committee using guidelines from the CDC, OC Health Care Agency, and the CDPH.

We have taken additional measures as part of our COVID- 19 response plan to continue to keep our community safe and healthy outlined below:

 Added additional housekeeping staff to continuously sanitize our fitness floor, fitness studios, and the preschool

All of our employees with high touch roles including security and our fitness floor staff are now wearing gloves at all times

Increasing the frequency of deep cleaning the preschool, children's areas, fitness center, and fitness studios

We are a resilient community, and we know we will get through this-together. In the meantime, please do everything you can to stay healthy and ensure the health of those around you. 
Tuesday, March 3: Keeping our community healthy
Dear JCC Members and Friends,

At the Merage JCC, the health and safety of every person who walks through our doors is our top priority.  We continue to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation and are in communication with the CDC, our own medical committee and local health authorities. Currently, the Merage JCC is operating under normal procedures. However, just as we ask our preschool families to keep their children home when they have a fever or flu-like symptoms, we ask that you do the same.
In addition, we are undertaking strategies to mitigate risk, out of an abundance of caution, including:
  • Placing additional hand sanitizing stations throughout the building
  • The cleaning staff are increasing frequency of wiping down high touch surface areas and door knobs
  • Equipment in the fitness center is being wiped down more often and we have placed more cleaning wipes throughout the fitness center
  • Signs with proper hand washing protocol have been posted in the bathrooms around the building
  • We are in close contact with various agencies and participated on webinars with the CDC and will take additional actions as recommended and warranted
The Merage JCC will remain vigilant and will continue to take a proactive approach to keeping our community healthy. We also ask you to do your part to ensure the health, safety and well being of the Merage JCC community by washing your hands regularly and staying home if you have a fever or have flu-like symptoms. Please visit the CDC for more information on COVID-19.
Scott Braswell                   Irv Chase
Executive Director             Chair of the Board