The Jewish Community Center. (Courtesy of JCC Facebook)

The shutdown of “non-essential” businesses in Michigan forced the organization to make critical cost-saving decisions.

The Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit has temporarily laid off over 95% of its staff, effective Sunday, March 29. 

This decision came as a result of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, which requires non-essential businesses to close their doors.

Brian Siegel, chief executive officer of the JCC, told the Jewish News that since the state required the closure of health clubs, sports facilities, child care centers and other places where people congregate, it effectively shuttered all of the JCC’s revenue-producing building operations.

These operations include the Pitt Child Development Center, the Florine Mark Health and Fitness Center, Kenny Goldman Basketball and the Inline Hockey Center.

“Unlike the majority of agencies in our community, the JCC relies fundamentally on the earned income generated by these programs,” Siegel said. “It was incumbent upon us to take all cost- saving measures possible so we can return to our role as a critical engine for building Jewish community in Detroit by collaborating to create world-class education and engagement programming as soon as the current crisis abates.”

Siegel would not give a number of how many employees the layoffs affected, but internal sources give an estimate of more than 200 people.

With the temporary layoffs, employees from the JCC are able to apply for unemployment benefits, both from the state and under the CARES Act from the federal government.

The CARES Act, or “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act”, was passed by Congress on Friday, March 27 to provide emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families and businesses affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

“We are heartened by the fact that the CARES Act passed by the legislature, when coupled with the State of Michigan unemployment benefits, will provide meaningful financial support to our affected staff,” Siegel said. “The few employees remaining had meaningful reductions in their salary.”

Employees will not have to re-apply for their positions once the JCC re-opens, according to Siegel.


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