Have you heard of Framily? It’s a mash-up of the words friends and family – as in you have friends who are so close they are more like family.

Over the summer – after months of being locked in our houses – my framily decided it was time to get together. Our younger kids missed out on sleepaway camp. Older kids missed out on college graduation. There were no spur-of-the-moment Target runs, going out for ice cream, or playing pick-up games. For the adults, no date nights, girls nights, or meeting for coffee.

Everything stopped, and I missed my framily.

One day in the summer we decided we needed a break. It had been too long. We needed to see each other.

We met-up at one of our houses, and there were rules. Outside only, no bowls of snacks (individually wrapped bags instead), nobody would get too close, and we would not stay more than an hour or so.

We created a safe space that we were comfortable with.

From my experience, our risk was well worth the reward. The night we came home, my girls were transformed. They had a new energy about them. It was invigorating to see! It did wonders for their mental health.

We continued our framily visits in the same manner a few more times. Each time it was like a healthy dose of mental strength for all of us. We got to relax and connect without a screen between us. Heaven!

When my mother found out about this, she was mortified. Not her comfort level. I could feel her finger pointing at me through the phone lines. She was not happy with me. Not. At. All. (Gulp.)

I took a deep breath and told her it was OK. It’s ok that we have different comfort levels. I told her I respect her and my father. I assured her of what she already knew: I would never do anything to put myself, my husband or our kids (her only grand-daughters) in danger. She knew that, but like most, COVID is constantly in the forefront of her mind. There is nothing I can do to change that–and I have no intention of changing that. All I can offer is my empathy and respect.

And to you, my dear JCC Framily: I offer you the same respect, empathy, and kindness.

Some of you are coming back to classes, workout in the fitness center, play pickleball, or meet with your trainer. You’ve read through our cleaning protocols, procedures, and have become savants with our reservation system. The J fits your comfort zone.

Some of you are not ready. Too many positive cases, too many risks. This side of my framily has opted for our virtual fitness classes and workouts. They have seen this go from classes filmed in our instructors’ living rooms, to the classes we have today–filmed professionally in our new virtual studio. We are aiming to give you a solid connection–almost as good as if you were here at the J.

We’ve filmed 50 classes from your JCC instructors, and added about 100 others from our wellness partner, Technogym. You have turned this from social distance–into social fitness! (More to come on this soon.)

Whether you are comfortable coming into the J or streaming classes from your home, we are all members of the same framily, and we are forever connected and here for each other.