JW3 closes 'until further notice' amid coronavirus outbreak

Community centre will refund tickets but would 'love it' if people donated to help it through 'very difficult time'


JW3 is to temporarily close its doors to the public "with immediate effect and until further notice" over concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

The Jewish community centre in North West London added that it would refund any tickets but would “love it” if some considered donating the ticket price or making a donation to support it “at this very difficult time”.

The centre have encouraged staff to work from home, though this isn’t possible for some and were working towards making some of their activities accessible online.

Raymond Simonson, chief executive of JW3, told the JC that the move was “very much temporary”, adding: “We can’t say at the moment how long that will be, because nobody knows… We’re saying ‘it's for now’ and reviewing it on a daily basis.

“It’s a decision that we certainly haven’t made lightly, not one that we really wanted to make because in the last couple of weeks we’ve had so many people that come in say to us ‘thank you for staying open’.”

He added that following the latest government advice, JW3’s nursery would remain open, as would the Gateways educational programme.

Mr Simonson said the government had left JW3 and the wider events and hospitality industries “in the dark” concerning financial support, but that he did not want to criticise them too much as the situation was “something unprecedented; none of us know.”

It comes as New North London Synagogue announced it would suspend all shul activity in light of the Governmentr’s latest advice about avoiding "non essential contact" to stop the spread of coronavirus.

In a statement, the shul said that all services would cease, cheder would be cancelled until further notice, and families scheduled to have Bar/Bat Mitzvahs in the months until August would be contacted to discuss options.

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg said no decision “has left me with a heavier heart".

He added: "It feels symbolic that we should have to send it in the very week in which read the Torah portion Vayakhel, which describes how Moses gathered the Children of Israel together.

“But that must be our inspiration: we will find ways to look after each other, remain connected, learn Torah, pray and seek out what is sacred and beautiful in life, despite the fact that we cannot gather in person."

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