NEW YORK, NY — A larger number of Jewish Community Centers are opening on Saturday mornings (a time of worship for Jews), but more are closing by sundown on Fridays, which is when Shabbat (a day of worship) begins, according to a recent survey by the Florence G. Heller-JCC Association Research Center.

In 2002, 10 percent of JCCs were open on Saturday mornings, but that percentage rose to 23 percent in 2006. On Friday nights, 38 percent of JCCs now close before sundown instead of a set closing time each week, an increase from the 28 percent who did so in 2002.

Sixty-six percent of JCCs are open for at least part of Saturdays, according to the study. Executive directors from 110 of the 188 JCCs in the United States and Canada responded to the Web-based survey and stated that within the last four years, more than 40 percent of JCCs have either lengthened or shortened their operating hours in accordance with the Shabbat and other holiday observances. The study found that local JCCs' volunteer leadership made decisions about a facility's operating hours after they conducted research, had discussions with staff and drafted policies.

JCCs' operating hours vary by region. On Saturdays, 72 percent are open in the Northeast; 83 percent are open in the Southwest; 70 percent are open in the Southeast and 60 percent are open in the West. The region with the most JCCs open on Saturdays is the Midwest with 93 percent.

In Overland Park, KS, the JCC of Greater Kansas City recently joined other JCCs by extending its Saturday operating hours by opening at 7:30 a.m. rather than in the afternoon. The task force decided to make the change, which was effective on Oct. 1, to remain competitive with the other clubs and recreational sports leagues, says Cary Minkoff, executive director.

“In some segments of the Jewish community we had a little bit of pushback, but we expected that to be the case on one level or another,” he says. “Overall, it's been very positive.”