The pandemic brought about unprecedented changes in the way people live and interact with each other. However, for ChiTribe, it was a testament to its proof of concept as a resource for the Jewish community. ChiTribe pivoted its calendar to include all events happening in the Jewish community and made sure that everything was included on its event calendar, including a comprehensive list of national events happening within the community. This required extensive manual input to ensure that everything from high holiday services, lunch and learns, happy hours, and more all included in one calendar. This effort helped to provide a sense of community and connectedness during a time when people needed it most.
ChiTribe adapted to the challenges posed by the global pandemic by pivoting to virtual programming and creating resources for other organizations to provide safe Jewish programming on Zoom and beyond. From March 2020 to April 2021, the organization saw 60,000 website visitors and 11,000 views of their high holidays virtual guide. During this time, they hosted 146 virtual events and had over 1000 participants in their virtual programs.
ChiTribe Virtual Programming 2020-2021
The virtual events hosted by ChiTribe during the pandemic included weekly gamenights, virtual Hannukah candle lighting, Shabbat Clusters, Virtual Happy Hours, and Comedy Nights. Beginning in March 2020, ChiTribe began hosting regular Shabbat calls called ChiTribe Binge of the Week to chat about what everyone was streaming and debate important topics like Tiger King, Shtisel, The Plot Against America, and Unorthodox.
ChiTribe Weekly Virtual Gamenight with Jackbox Games
After over 20 Mondays of game night beginning in March of 2020, ChiTribe continued virtual game nights on a monthly basis. During the pandemic, weekly game nights provided a much-needed distraction from the crazy world we were living in and engaged over 200 individuals. Since the pandemic, ChiTribe and Bonus Round Games have hosted gamenights in person for 20s and 30s in the city.
ChiTribe Pandemic Partnerships
In April 2020, ChiTribe hosted the Virtual Bar Mitzvah Bash DisDANCING with YLD, where people could dance indoors together while apart bar-mitzvah style. This creative event was a great way to engage people and make them feel a little better during the pandemic.
Virtual Chanukkah Candle Lighting 2020
During Channukah 2020, ChiTribe hosted 8 nights of candle lighting with the ChiTribe team and 7 other Jewish organizations in Chicago. This program was a way to engage the community in candle lighting together, though apart, from Instagram to Facebook.
- Thursday, December 10, 2020 – ChiTribe hosts candle lighting, Maoz Tzur, & Holiday Trivia Friday, December 11, 2020 Candle Lighting with Lakeview Moishe House and Hannukah Ukelele Sing-a-long
- Saturday, December 12, 2020 Havdalah and Candle Lighting with Rav Ezra and Silverstein Base Hillel: Loop
- Sunday, December 13, 2020 with Lauren Silverman and the Young Leadership Division of the JUF (YLD)
- Monday, December 14, 2020 Candle Lighting and Hannukah Mocktail creation with Uptown Moishe House
- Tuesday, December 15, 2020 Rabbi Rena Singer of Temple Sholom leads candle lighting followed by Trivia with ChiTribe and Makom Chicago
- Wednesday, December 16, 2020 Light Yourselves Up: An Interactive Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Workshop with No Shame On U Engagement Coordinator, Ellen Geis, and ChiTribe.
- Thursday, December 17, 2020 led by Rabbi Megan GoldMarche with Silverstein Base Hillel: Lincoln Park
Virtual ChiTribe Happy Hours
During the first year of the pandemic, ChiTribe hosted virtual happy hours for its community beginning with consecutive events in May and June of 2020. With the support of a generous donor, ChiTribe also hosted a speical comedy night with Brad Trackman on June 25th with over 100 people. These virtual events provided a much-needed source of connection and entertainment for the community during a time of physical distancing. As the surge continued into 2021, ChiTribe hosted a Virtual Purim Happy Hour in February of 2021 with comedy and games.
Virtual Shabbat Clusters
ChiTribe organized over 80 virtual Shabbat gatherings during the pandemic, bringing the community together every Friday night. With the help of dedicated volunteers, including Rebecca Schwab, Laura Levine, Ashley Gordon, Matt Weil, Shuva Brodley, and Shoshi Shapiro, the organization facilitated two rounds of virtual cluster cohorts that engaged over 200 individuals from a wider age range, meeting every other week and having a post-cluster virtual hang after dinner. The virtual Shabbat programming was designed and adapted by the ChiTribe team for virtual life, engaging over 100 individuals every other week.
ChiTribe has provided my link to the outside world during the pandemic. In the tumult of intense loneliness living alone and the fear and confusion of working in an industry kneecapped by an economic collapse, ChiTribe became a constant presence with weekly virtual Shabbat cluster dinners. I’ve made new friends and strengthened friends with those I’d had before. I’ve felt just as, if not more, connected to the Jewish community as before this entire crisis. ChiTribe enabled that.
Re-Entry Post Pandemic
In 2021, ChiTribe helped the community re-enter Jewish life through their hybrid program Post-Pandemic ChiTribe Clusters beginning June 1, 2021. ChiTribe Post-Pandemic Clusters were an important opportunity for people to connect virtually and in-person while creating a community based on shared interests. As more people became vaccinated and Jewish life slowly began to to return to normal, ChiTribe Post-Pandemic Clusters were a chance to meet new people and reconnect with the Tribe. There were 6 cluster groups led by ChiTribe volunteers to make this crazy transition a little easier.
ChiTribe: The Pandemic and Beyond
ChiTribe saw tremendous growth during and after the pandemic. During the pandemic (March 2020 to April 2021), the website had 60K visitors and 11K views just for the high holiday virtual guide. 146 virtual events were hosted with over 1000 participants. In the post-pandemic period (March 2021 to March 2022), the website saw a significant increase in views with 76K website views and 19K high holiday guide views. The organization engaged 300+ individuals in virtual programs 2021 before transitioning to in-person programming, including 5 happy hours, 6 post-pandemic affinity groups, 2 Hannukah parties, a schmooze cruise, and an in-person game night engaging over 750 individuals in-person.
In conclusion, ChiTribe played a vital role in keeping the Jewish community connected and engaged during the pandemic by providing a platform for virtual events. From virtual Hannukah to virtual Happy Hours, ChiTribe proved that it was proof of its concept and a resource that everyone needed during these challenging times.