JERUSALEM - Despite sudden restrictions due to the outbreak of the coronavirus that prohibited public gatherings, Jodi Samuels — founder of Jewish International Connection New York and JIC Israel — didn’t skip a beat.
Samuels, like many other not-for-profit directors, immediately turned to technology to remain effective and helpful at a time when new members needed her support the most. Samuels started hosting JIC’s Torah classes, dating programs and other events online. In fact, Samuels added a new series of classes about COVID-19, taught by Samuels’ husband, Gavin, who is a doctor.
“At first I was concerned that we would not reach as many people as we usually do and that some members of our JIC community would feel lonely or isolated,” Samuels said. “However, we have been able to expand our reach one hundred times as people from all around the world have participated in our online events.”
Some of JIC’s special online events during the pandemic have included a comedy show with Jewish comedian Talia Reese and somber sessions in honor of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day and Memorial Day for soldiers and victims of terror. The touching meetings featured survivors and family members of victims. Hundreds of people tuned in live. And since its airing, one talk has been viewed 22,000 times already.
Though the coronavirus crisis has been challenging, Samuels sees the silver lining in having have members of both JIC New York and JIC Israel be able to attend the same events and in being able to reach.
“Previously we had been limited to inviting teachers based on their physical location and now we realize we can have some of the best teachers teach from anywhere,” Samuels said.