If we had to name one silver lining in everyone staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be that people are finding ways to stay connected and involved in their community.

This past weekend, the East Valley JCC held our first-ever event open to anyone in the world who wanted to come. People who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to travel to an in-person event were able to attend this one and the approximately 200 attendees who joined us spanned from California to New York and even Scottsdale.

The April 26 event was “Unorthodox Uncovered” and the featured guest was actress Michal Birnbaum from the hit Netflix series “Unorthodox,” who answered questions about the popular show in a Zoom session from Israel where she was staying with her family. Karolyn Benger, her sister-in-law and wife of EVJCC CEO Rabbi Michael Beyo, moderated the Q&A session.

Like most organizations throughout the world, the East Valley JCC is turning to Zoom and other online platforms to stay connected with the families and individuals served in the pre-pandemic world.

It’s a learning adventure we’re all in together, from navigating technical difficulties and time zone differences to the learning curve that comes along with learning new programs.

When we held our first online class on Zoom back before Passover – transitioning an Open Beit Midrash class from in-person to online – we included basic instructions to how to use Zoom because it was so new to so many. Today, as we are approaching nearly two months of staying at home, people of all ages have attended all kinds of Zoom meetings – from classes, happy hours and international events to Passover seders and shiva gatherings.

However, if you’re still hesitant to use Zoom, feel free to be in touch with someone at the EVJCC to walk you through it so you can join us in future programs. (Send a note here if you need some guidance.) Once you learn the basics of logging in, here are some other tips: At the bottom of the Zoom screen, there is a picture of a microphone and a video. It’s a good idea to make sure you are muted once the Zoom session starts so everyone can hear the speaker and if you’re not comfortable being on camera, you can hit “Stop Video” rather than point the camera at the ceiling.

It may also be helpful to know that you can switch between a view of the speaker or a gallery view on the top right of your screen. To get that community feeling, it’s fun to see who else is on the call, but once the program starts, you can select the speaker view on your screen to avoid distractions.

If you missed “Unorthodox Uncovered,” don’t worry, Zoom sessions can be recorded so we have it for you:

If you still have questions about the topic of life in a Ultra-Orthodox community, Rabbi Michael Beyo, who spent the majority of his life living in haredi communities, will be available to answer your questions this Sunday – same time, same place – as last Sunday, at 1 pm. on Zoom. For details and to register, visit evjcc.org/unorthodox.

To read more about the April 26 program, check out the current issue of Jewish News: “EVJCC event takes deep dive into ‘Unorthodox’ with actress Michal Birnbaum.” As a public service during this pandemic, the Jewish News is providing free, unlimited access to all its articles so you can read about that and other community news even if you are not currently a subscriber.

We hope to see you on Zoom soon! (And also in person once it’s safe to do so.)

-Leisah Woldoff