JW3 has announced it is shutting until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.
This came after Boris Johnson unveiled unprecedented measures to try to control the spread of Covid-19, including wide-ranging advice on social distancing – advising people against all non-essential contact and travel.
A spokesperson for the community centre, the epicentre of Jewish cultural life in north London, announced on Monday evening that the decision had been made to “safeguard the health and well-being of our visitors, members, volunteers, staff, teachers, presenters and performers are of utmost importance to us”.
The statement continued: “We are closely monitoring the situation and will continue to review policies and practices in line with official guidelines as they develop. We will refund any tickets purchased, or if you would like to support JW3 at this very difficult time, we’d love it if you would consider donating your ticket price or making a donation instead. We hope you’re all keeping well and really look forward to seeing you soon.”
In a video posted on Facebook, its Chief Executive, Raymond Simonson, said the community centre made a “really tough decision” but that it had “no real choice”.
“We are temporarily closing down JW3 to the public. If you saw the Prime Minister’s announcement earlier today, about pubs and clubs and social clubs and theatres, well that’s us. We’re kind of in that category.”
“It’s not been something we’ve been taking lightly, it’s not something we’ve wanted to do.”
He added that the centre’s team has spent “all of our time putting measures in place to ensure we can keep everyone who comes through our doors safe”, adding that up to 4,000 go to the site each week.
Simonson insisted the JW3 temporary closure “doesn’t mean we are going to stop doing what do. We have hunkered down.”
“We are planning and we are thinking and we are learning really quickly”, using technology to teach language classes remotely and putting on events through live-streaming”. He said JW3 is even considering inviting people in to perform in an empty hall, which would be streamed online.
Simonson said: “We might be closing down the building to the public but we are not closing down what JW3 does and what it stands for”.
He appealed to supporters who have been offered a refund for a cancelled event “whether you can donate that” to JW3.
This comes amid unprecedented closures in the Jewish community in a bid to tackle the virus, including restrictions to visitations at care homes, advice for the elderly to stay away from shul, and charities cancelling fundraising events.