Community update - From the desk of Judy Alperin Diamondstein

As winter arrives today, it brings with it cool, crisp and bracing air that feels clean as we breathe in and brings a rosy glow to our faces and while some find winter to be a time of great activity, perhaps skiing down a mountain or snowshoeing through the wilderness, others find it a time to hibernate and rest while awaiting the rejuvenation of spring.
Winter is the perfect metaphor for this moment in time in our community.  The winter months will provide the opportunity for our building to receive the care that it needs in the aftermath of the fire.
I wanted to provide you with an update on what has been happening since the fire.  Each day that passed we began to understand that the damage was much more significant that we had originally thought and that rather than it being contained to just one area of the building, the water and smoke  has wrought damage throughout our 100,000 square foot structure.  The air quality in the building was poor and the remediation work so extensive that we have relocated all staff of the Jewish Federation, Foundation and JCC. 
Within 3 days, and with the help of the community, we were able to resume operations of Yeladim Early Learning Center and Afterschool programs at Congregation B'nai Jacob.  With the help and generosity of Orange Park & Rec, Woodbridge Park & Rec, Hopkins School and Albertus Magnus, our members who participate in aquatics, recreation and fitness programs were minimally disrupted.  As of yesterday, a lease was signed for 4 Research Drive, the new temporary home of the JCC Fitness Center and the administrative offices of JCC Day Camp, membership, PE, fitness and program departments.  Today a brand new floor for Zumba and other exercise classes was installed along with TV's and preparations are under way for weight and cardio equipment to be moved on Friday.  While there will not be shower facilities available, early morning hours will begin at 5 am to provide a bit of extra wiggle room for travel time.  We expect to open to all on January 2, 2017 just in time to start New Year's resolutions!
Jewish Federation, Foundation and JCC administrative offices have been relocated to 1764 Litchfield Turnpike in the Woodbridge Office Park.  While we still do not have internet and phone access, we expect that to be restored by the weekend and hope to be more accessible. 
We are currently expecting that we will be displaced from the JCC building for at least 6 months; probably longer.  It is important for you to understand that almost our entire lower level, with the exclusion of the racquetball courts, has experienced significant damage.  All of the flooring throughout, including our double gymnasium has been or will be removed.  Much of the drywall was affected in total or in part.  All ceiling tiles throughout the building have been or will be removed.  All contents are being evaluated to determine if they can be cleaned and salvaged or are a total loss.
We believe that there was some structural damage to a support beam/expansion joint that was located directly over the fire area.  This is significant and will have to be addressed.  Given the extensive smoke damage, HVAC systems must be cleaned and repaired.  We experienced plumbing issues when pipes burst due to the fire.
The list of issues extends much beyond what I've shared today, but we want to share as much as we can with you so that we can all have a baseline understanding of what lies ahead.  We are determined to turn this challenge into a great opportunity for our community. 
Unfortunately we will not have the luxury of time to navigate our next steps due to insurance concerns.  What we do know is that while we have insurance coverage, we are sure that it will not be enough to cover the need necessary to execute a forward thinking vision. 
We are asking those of you who have yet to make your pledge to the Jewish Federation's Annual Campaign to do so as soon as possible and at an increase if possible.  The Annual Campaign is the backbone and the safety net of our Jewish community.  It needs to be strong every day so that when the unimaginable happens, like a fire in the central address of the Jewish community, the Jewish Federation can respond quickly and responsibly.  Because, after all-it's always something...that's why there's Federation.
In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to do our best to update you through multiple modalities.  You may hear from us by email, phone, social media, or maybe even smoke signals.  We will do our best to try to reach out in as many ways as possible so that you feel like you have your finger on the pulse of what's happening. and will continue to be go to places for information.
In closing we want to ask your help in one more important area.  We know that we do not have contact information for every member of our community.  Please feel free to share this email and any other communication with your friends and family so that together we can move forward into a better tomorrow.
With continued appreciation for what makes Greater New Haven so special and best wishes for a most happy and joyous Chanukah,
Judy Alperin Diamondstein
Chief Executive Officer